The Rise of the Bonus Buy Feature in Video Slots

For decades, slot machine players have been at the mercy of the spin cycle, repeatedly hitting that spin button and waiting patiently for the reels to hopefully line up the right symbols to trigger a bonus round or big win. However, in recent years a new feature has been gaining popularity among video slot developers and players alike – the Bonus Buy.

What is a Bonus Buy?

A Bonus Buy allows players to bypass the base game spinning entirely and go straight to the bonus round or free spins mode by paying an upfront fee. This fee is usually 70-100x the cost of a single spin but can be higher for particularly lucrative bonus rounds.

The first slot to really popularize this Bonus Buy concept was Bonanza by developer Big Time Gaming in 2016. In this mining-themed game, players could pay 100x their stake to trigger the Free Spins bonus round instantly instead of relying on hitting the right scatter symbols through normal gameplay.

Why Use a Bonus Buy?

At first glance, paying such a hefty premium to access a bonus round that you could potentially trigger for free may seem counterintuitive. However, there are some compelling reasons why many slot enthusiasts have embraced the Bonus Buy option:

  1. It eliminates the grind. For players who only have a limited bankroll or time to play, a Bonus Buy allows them to jump straight into the most exciting and lucrative part of the slot without potentially spinning through hundreds or thousands of dead spins first.
  2. Better odds and potential. While not guaranteed, bonus rounds and free spin modes typically have higher payout potential than the base game due to increased win multipliers, extra wilds or other advantageous extras. Buying your way in can put the odds more in your favour.
  3. Convenience and control. Having the option to purchase the bonus round upfront allows players to better control their session and budget instead of mindlessly spinning until they hit it big or go broke.

Not Without Controversy

While slots with Buy Bonus have grown in popularity, they remain a contentious issue among some players, casinos and gambling regulators. Critics argue that they increase gambling harm by further obfuscating the house edge and real cost of playing. Some regions like the UK have banned them entirely over fears that they make it too easy for players to quickly drain their bankrolls.

Proponents counter that Bonus Buys simply package a common advantage-play technique used by slots enthusiasts into an upfront and transparent option. They also argue that Bonus Buys incentivize developers to focus on creating truly exciting and rewarding bonus rounds instead of dull base gameplay.

Slot Developers Fully Embracing Bonus Buys

Despite the controversy, major online slot developers have been rapidly integrating Bonus Buy functionality into both new releases and upgraded versions of popular classic titles. Pragmatic Play, Push Gaming, Nolimit City and Relax Gaming are just a few of the studios now producing slots with buy-a-bonus options.

An emerging trend is multi-level Bonus Buys, where players can purchase not just the main bonus round but optionally pay even higher fees to start with additional advantages like more free spins, higher multipliers or even the bonus round re-triggering infinitely. This tactic is designed to offer more enticing choices to whales willing to plunk down hefty sums for a shot at massive wins.

Whether you love them or loathe them, Bonus Buys are here to stay and likely to only become more prominent as slots developers continually seek new innovative ways to attract players and pump up the adrenaline and win potential. Players will have to decide for themselves if the allure of shortcutting to the big bucks bonuses is worth the premium price of admission.

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