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Lotsa Slots, Lotsa Lies: Predatory Advertising in the Mobile Game Industry

by Dude Dudunsparce



Lotsa Slots is a free slots game on the Google Play and Apple Store. While there are many slots games available, this one is special because of its outrageous ads on YouTube. I have seen many different formulas for these ads, and each revolves around two basic concepts: free coins and large jackpots. One example (and the one I’ve seen the most) goes like this; A woman comes up to a car and asks if a man in a suit is the CEO of the game. He responds by saying, “10 trillion!” while handing her a briefcase. She asks the same question again, and he says, “another 10 trillion!” The woman gets tired of this and throws the briefcases down, saying that she has too many coins and can’t spend them all. This leads to the meat of the ad where the CEO explains that this game has plenty of opportunities to get free coins and a high chance to hit large jackpots in as fast as 10 spins.

The ad ends with the woman who was initially mad about having so many coins being happy that the game is like this. Most other ads of this variety have a similar formula, mainly with a setup where someone is mad they have too many or not enough coins, and the CEO goes over the main selling points of their game. Other than the information about coins, the game advertises no ads and there being no need to top up by buying coins or other things in the game. These ads made me wonder if there truly was a slots game like this, so I decided to download the game and give it a try.

At the start of the game, I got 5 million coins, which is interesting because ads start the game with 2 million. You also get another 40,000 coins from a daily gift. I picked one of the three slots that you start out with and began spinning. On my first spin,, I got a “Big Win,” which just means I won a lot of coins and not a jackpot. I did hit my first jackpot fairly quickly, but it took much longer than the initial ten spins as advertised. To give the game some credit, you do get a lot of free coins and high payouts. Still, I ran out of coins on the third day. If you run out of coins, you have the option to top up or continue spinning with more coins that the game gives you. This sounds nice, but they only give you enough coins for one spin at the minimum bet of 20,000 before bombarding you with pop-ups detailing how to buy coins.

Illustration by Maia Hadler, Art Director

This brings us to the first major problem with the game and a lie from the advertisement. There are several ways to top up, giving you more coins, power-ups, or other useful things to help get through the game. It’s obvious that Lotsa Slots is meant to tempt players with potentially billions or trillions of coins off of next spins so they keep buying coins at every opportunity to increase their bet amounts. It makes the most sense to me to bet a smaller amount to save coins and have more chances to hit a jackpot, but the game heavily incentives players to bet higher amounts by locking bonuses and even certain jackpots behind higher bet amounts. The entire purpose of this is to make consumers run out of coins faster and to increase the number of coins it seems like the player is winning. If you bet 1 million coins and win 2 million coins, the same ratio would apply if you bet 2 million coins. This artificially makes it feel like betting more coins is worth it. While there are chances at higher jackpots by betting more coins, this chance is very low and leads to less coins overall.

Another key feature of the game is a million side activities going on at all times. As you spin, you level up and unlock new features in the game. This includes live events that go on for 3-5 days at a time, clans that people can join to get coins from other players, and even caring for a dragon that players hatch from an egg. This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to opportunities for earning daily free coins. Getting free currency sounds like a good thing, but many of these opportunities are locked behind playing the game for at least an hour, combined with winning or betting a specific number of coins. Sometimes there are rewards for logging in daily, and the game will alert you about missing some coins. The worst part here is that many of these extra features let players pay real money to increase the number of coins they can get from them, again trying to push winning more coins at all times. While the gameplay outside of the slots has many confusing aspects, the slots themselves also have unique gimmicks that can be hard to understand.

At the beginning of opening a slots game, you get a sentence or two explaining the gimmick before being left to figure out the rest on your own. For example, the slot called “moolah” is farm-themed and lets you get bonus coins by collecting water and growing plants. There’s also a minigame on every board that players can unlock by getting three specific symbols at the same time. For the moolah slot, the minigame puts you on a board with colored spaces. Players then spin a wheel with colors adjacent to the board and move to the corresponding space they land upon. Each space gives you more free spins once the game is over, such as a wild reel (a line on the slots completely full of wilds) or another screen to win on. Once you reach the end of the board, you’ll activate your remaining free spins with wilds and multiple screens at the same time. This is yet another way to make it feel like players are winning a lot of coins because these happen pretty rarely and usually only bring consumers back to their initial coin profit prior to betting, if that.

I wanted to see how Losta Slots compares to other similar games, so I downloaded the number 1 casino slots game from the Google Play Store, Quick Hit Slots. This game has a similar formula to Losta Slots with players receiving a lot of free coins at the start of the game and from outside factors. The slots themselves are not as complicated, which helped me actually understand what counts as a hit and why. I also haven’t seen many minigames here; there were mainly opportunities to get free spins with occasional multipliers. Admittedly, it was harder to play Quick Hit Slots because I won much less. I played both games for about a week, so I hesitate to think this isn’t just related to luck. Either way, both slots games use similar tactics to coerce money from players.

Slots games are devious examples of predatory advertisement and gameplay in the mobile game industry. They clearly value profits above the actual mental health of their players. I could imagine someone being addicted to gambling through online slots games and spending hundreds of dollars with no chance of making the money back. All of this, just for some online points without no real meaning. Even when I was playing, I was tempted to buy coins or power-ups for the low price of $1.99. Seeing your coin amount increase is deceivingly exciting, and these games both understand and prey on these feelings. While most free mobile games are focused on earning money, slots games are easily some of the worst examples.

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