Unlike most other websites that claim to ‘review’ slots, we test and evaluate games with the best interest of the players in mind and not just to entice readers to play the games. Moreover, we have a long-standing policy of never accepting commission or payments from game developers if it risks getting in the way of us maintaining an unbiased stance in our reviews. With no obligations towards those who create the games, we’ve taken the task upon us to write honest reviews in an effort to help our readers make educated decisions. Our integrity and reputation as an independent and unbiased source is something we value above anything else.
In spite of our sometimes exceptionally candid criticism, most game developers still take great interest in Bigwinboard and are more than happy to be featured on the site. Not only due to the high credibility it enjoys in the industry, but because developers tend to appreciate the input we, and our community, provide them with in their continuous effort to improve their games. Moreover, Bigwinboard’s score system has become somewhat of an industry gold standard.
Unscrupulous developers, meanwhile, may be happy to fly under the radar in the hope of escaping any negative publicity. If you don’t find certain providers featured here, the reason could be a lack of quality, or worse, that they’re frauds. One of the requirements we have for reviewing games is to be allowed full access for testing purposes before the games go live. This must be done with no legal demands made against us that in any way might be used to influence the outcome of our reviews; this includes pressuring us to sign any form of contracts or forms. Doing so might lead to the loss of accreditation status and even result in blacklisting. You can find a list of all our accredited game studios here. Game studios should know that any threats made against us, be it legal or through the loss of client area access, will be communicated to our readers, as such activity could be an indication of a company having something to hide and ultimately be harmful to our readers.
If you don’t see us reviewing games from a certain provider, the reason could be one of many, although usually, it boils down to the quality of the games. If providers deny us access to their games, we might also cease to give them any front page exposure or stop covering them altogether. Beware, some providers will happily pay websites and casino streamers to paint their products in a positive light – learn to see through it and do proper research.
What we review
We understand that not every player is the same. Some like to try new games while others stick to old proven favorites. There are recreational players who don’t worry too much about variance or RTP; they only regard it as a form of entertainment. Then you also have the hardcore gamers who are into high variance and high risk, who love the thrill of chasing big wins. Because of this, we need to keep an open mind and see the big picture when reviewing the games. That is also why we allow a test panel to try the games before we settle on a final score. All our reviews are concluded with a summary and personal reflection.
The following are some of the key factors we take in consideration when we test new slots:
- Balancing – Does the game give you some play time or is the mathematical design unforgiving. Low-quality games tend to be straight-out cash grabbers, but some providers have mastered the art of keeping their games fairly well balanced even when highly volatile.
- Playability – Annoying cut scenes? Bad sound engineering? Slow win count-ups? Clunky and sluggish gameplay? These are factors that can have a substantial impact on the overall experience.
- Variance – Most providers try to cater to a wide audience by producing a mix of low, medium and high variance games. In some cases, we’ve seen games that have been designed to behave like high variance slots but have the potential of low variance slots. Not the best combination.
- Bonus frequency and RTP – How long do we have to wait in between the features? Some providers are known to have significantly lower bonus frequencies than others. RTP is also a crucial factor that we look at. As a general rule, an RTP of 96%+ is still considered to be the average and anything below that number is typically viewed upon as negative by the casino community. However, we do understand that tough regulations have had a major impact on the industry, causing a loss in revenue, which in turn may be causing the RTP to creep downwards. This is not necessarily the game providers’ or casino operators’ fault, but a direct result of stringent regulation.
- Originality – A slot doesn’t necessarily have to be innovative to be good. There are even examples of clones that outshine the original. What we don’t like, however, are lazy providers who systematically clone and re-skin their own (or others’) games.
- Potential – For years now, there’s been a demand for increased potential and high variance brought on by massively successful slots such as Bonanza and Dead or Alive 2. Unfortunately, there are still providers out there who genuinely seem to believe that 20x is an “epic win”. It’s not. On the flip side, this is an entertainment industry, and a good game does not necessarily need to have ridiculous potential or brutal volatility in order to become successful.
Many providers utilise what’s known as flexible RTP (payout percentage) which allows operators (casinos) to choose from a range of predefined RTP settings. Please be advised, we review the games based on their highest RTP setting and we want to urge readers to keep that in mind when reading some of the conclusions brought forward in our reviews. The difference in ‘performance’ between a 96% version and a 92% version can be significant.
Scores are not written in stone
Although reviews are snapshots in time, slots are not video games and require a different approach when reviewed. Whilst the visual elements rarely change, the mathematical model that powers the game may. For example, a slot may have its RTP lowered or go through re-certification due to other changes to the mathematical model, essentially qualifying it as a new game. Generally, a score is a reflection of where the game was around the time of its release, but due to the reasons mentioned above, the score may be subject to change at any time. Moreover, several factors may be taken into account post-release, such as the frequency of big wins, if there is a general agreement in opinion among players that greatly contradicts our score, or if the game behaves differently in a live environment compared to demo play. It’s never about our own egos; the most important thing is that players find value in the reviews and that the reviews help guide them in their decision making process of where to spend their hard earned money.
Bigwinboard Review Scale
Slots reviews don’t just boil down to “good game” or “bad game”. Bigwinboard reviewers, which includes both hardcore gamers and recreational players, are dedicated to thoughtful, well-considered criticism that takes several factors into account. The final score is a point of reference, but if you really wish to understand whether a slot is for you or not, you will find what you’re looking for in the content of the review itself – including demo play in many cases.
Bigwinboard.com uses a 20-point scoring system with 0.5 increments. The examples here are meant to clarify and describe what those scores most often mean to us. Scores are a helpful summation to the reviewer’s opinion, but it’s worth to accentuate that they’re not the review itself. A final score may be subject to change after a game has been released as the live performance of the slot can end up giving us a better understanding of it.
- 0 – 1.5 (Abysmal): Broken or offensively bad, possibly even rigged. Horrible value. A clear indication to stay far away.
- 2 – 2.5 (Terrible): In best case scenario, and if in a good mood, we might find one nice thing to say about it, but still far from being worth your time or money.
- 3 – 3.5 (Bad): A slot that has fallen short of its goals with very few qualities. Don’t waste your time.
- 4 – 4.5 (Poor): An entirely awkward or derivative effort. There is little to no reason to play this slot with so many other good slots to choose from out there.
- 5 – 5.5 (Mediocre): Disappointing or flawed.
- 6 – 6.5 (Fair): A slot of mediocre qualities. Other slots likely do it better, or its unique features aren’t executed as well as one would expect.
- 7 – 7.5 (Good): There’s something to it that there is to like, but can still only be recommended with major caveats.
- 8 – 8.5 (Great): A well-executed slot with superb features, great potential and compelling visuals.
- 9 – 9.5 (Superb): Extremely brilliant. This is far and away one of the best slots we’ve ever played and recommended to everyone who’s into gambling.
- 10 (Essential): A game that has simply been unheard of, that is of exceptional quality, and that could possibly even be an industry game changer.
In almost all cases, slots are reviewed before they go live. In reality, some slots are not final at launch, or even a few weeks after launch, once bugs are patched out and other issues are dealt with. Whilst a final Bigwinboard review is mostly final, there are some cases where we will want to revisit a slot down the line and update the score, or even the review itself, to reflect the times.
It is also true that, once a slot has been released, our opinion of it may change as the time invested into playing it increases, thus allowing us to gain a better understanding of the mathematical model. To some extent, we also listen to, and factor in, what the casino community has to say. If there is overwhelming negative criticism, we may inspect the game even closer and make necessary changes if need be. Don’t forget that you can use our commenting section to voice your opinion!
Source Protection & Confidentiality
Bigwinboard.com is not just a reviewing site; it’s also an independent news site. Source protection is a right accorded to journalists under international law that prohibits authorities, including courts, from compelling a journalist to reveal the identity of an anonymous source for a story or article. The right is based on a recognition that, without a strong guarantee of anonymity, many would be deterred from coming forward and sharing information of public interests with journalists.
It’s not uncommon for industry representatives to try to pressure us into revealing our sources about how information has been found. This is typically done by expressing concerns about potential ‘leaks’. Whilst we sympathize with that concern, representatives must understand that we are a news site and that we always protect our sources. Moreover, a person who represents a game studio today may go on to become a competitor tomorrow, therefore we do not discuss our sources with outsiders.