One Year On • This Week in Gambling

One Year On • This Week in Gambling

What we’ve learned so far and what might be next!

It’s been a year now since Hacksaw Gaming launched Wanted Dead or a Wild. So what better way to mark the anniversary, than by examining what it is about this slot that keeps drawing players back for more?

Is it down to the game’s theme? The gaming mechanics? The bonus features? There’s got to be a reason why this slot has continued to grow in popularity month on month since release. So here at Slot Gods, we thought we’d take a look at what it is that’s made Wanted Dead or a Wild such a hit with players, as well as taking a look at what might lie ahead.

A slot that players can’t get enough of

If you haven’t already experienced the game play of Wanted Dead or a Wild, then you’ve been missing out! But don’t worry – you can check out our review of the Wanted Dead or a Wild slot, which includes a video of the game in action. You’ll find no shortage of places to play, whether you want to try some demo games or play for real.

This is a slot that’s been trending on BigWinBoard for months on end – and it remains the only game from 2021 to have held firm on its position in their charts. In fact, BigWinBoard seems to have recognized the potential of Wanted Dead or a Wild from the moment it was launched. The slot was a runner up in the BigWinBoard Awards 2021 Slot of the Year, which is astonishing for a game that was only released at the tail end of September that year. And it must have been the game itself that helped Hacksaw Gaming to achieve a nomination for Game Provider of the Year at the same awards ceremony.

What’s behind the success of Wanted Dead or a Wild?      

It would be fair to say that Hacksaw Gaming is one of the newer developers to arrive on the scene, but it aroused interest amongst players from the outset. A diverse portfolio of games has already presented a few player favorites, including Chaos Crew and Forest Fortune.

But nothing had prepared any of us for the launch of Wanted Dead or a Wild! The game was an instant success with players, and continues to draw in new fans a year on from its official launch date. So we’ve taken a long, hard look at the perfect storm resulting in the slot powerhouse that is Wanted Dead or a Wild!

The Wild West theme is popular right now

Fashions come and go, and not just when it comes to clothes! Films, TV shows and even games, all have their moments in the sun, followed by periods of relative obscurity. So whereas there was a seemingly endless choice of Wild West programs and movies throughout the 1960s and 70s, it all kind of tailed off during the 80s and beyond.

But suddenly the western cowboy theme seems to have become popular with directors again. And according to the SEGA Nerds website, this current resurgence in popularity doesn’t just equate to movies but gaming too. The iGaming world has become particularly enamored of the genre recently, with the article giving a direct name check to Wanted Dead or a Wild, alongside Tombstone RIP, Deadwood and Money Train.

Wanted Dead or a Wild is a great game title!

One of the most attention-grabbing aspects of this slot is its name. Reminiscent of the Dead or Alive and Dead or Alive 2 slot games, the slot’s title tells you straight away that this is a game based around a lawless gun-toting western genre.

But instead of being Wanted Dead or Alive, as you might reasonably expect, the developers have switched it to ‘a Wild’. Not only does this reinforce the Wild West theme, but it also introduces the Wild slot symbol as being a major part of game play – and what slots fan doesn’t love a Wild?

The one symbol that can stand in for all others, the Wild is the slot player’s friend. So right from the outset, Hacksaw Gaming are drawing your attention to the fact that additional wins could be within your reach when you spin the reels of this slot!

The game’s design is outstanding

Slot players know not to judge the mechanics of a slot by its design. Some of the most boring-looking slots can deliver thrilling game play, whilst we’ve all come across games that promise a lot, but deliver very little. But Wanted Dead or a Wild manages to tick just about every box when it comes to game design.

There are no photo-realistic graphics or awe-inspiring animations to interfere with the gaming mechanics. Atmospheric – and occasionally eerie – background scenes forgo the usual saloon bars and one-horse town scenes that you’ll find in other games. The action here takes place among barren landscapes, which allows the reels to take center stage.

A design ethos that appeals to all players

It’s no easy task for an online slot to appeal to a wide variety of tastes, but ti’s something that Wanted Dead or a Wild somehow manages to pull off. The game has a clean and simplistic look and feel, particularly during base game play. But there’s enough going on – particularly during the bonus features – to make it a sure-fire hit with the masses.

The soundtrack is atmospheric and immersive

More than one commentator has singled out the game’s soundtrack for particular attention. This is something that slot developers often struggle to get right. At one extreme we have the generic game sounds that hark back to the earliest days of the one-man bandit slot machines. At the other are epic soundtracks, usually related to TV and film tie-ins.

It’s rare to find a game with a soundtrack that highlights action on the reels, and that manages to maintain interest. Wanted Dead or a Wild comes with musical flourishes straight out of the iconic ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ film starring a young Clint Eastwood. Elsewhere there are other hints of Ennio Morricone and his ‘spaghetti western’ musical accompaniments.

It’s a real plus point for Hacksaw Gaming that they’ve managed to create a slot soundtrack that players aren’t rushing to mute. Unlike most other slots, this game delivers music that never tips over into irritating.

The features have been well thought out

All slots players love a free spins bonus round, so that’s a given with Wanted Dead or a Wild. The Great Train Robbery free spins feature awards 10 free spins, complete with Sticky Wilds, which are especially popular with fans for the extra winning opportunities they provide.

The Duel at Dawn feature also awards 10 free spins, only this bonus round comes with exciting Multiplier Reels. Landing special VS symbols heralds the start of a battle between gunslingers, each of whom comes with an attached multiplier. The winner awards his multiplier – which could be worth up to 100x – to that reel, and to any related wins.

Re-spins are the players’ favorite

But according to an article by Yesbets, it’s the Re-spins feature that has really helped to raise the profile of Wanted Dead or a Wild. Although this mechanic has been around for a while, it was the release of Money Train 2 by Relax Gaming that ensured it would captivate players. And once again, Wanted Dead or a Wild takes a good idea and improves upon it, with a twist on the usual gaming mechanics.

Rather than awarding the usual fixed jackpot payouts associated with a re-spins bonus, Hacksaw Gaming decided on a different approach. So although there’s still the re-spin counter that resets to 3 with every bonus symbol that lands, the symbols collected are Sticky Wilds and Multipliers.  Players still have the uncertainty associated with this mechanic, but a new element is added into the mix.

Once no more re-spins have been awarded, the game progresses to the Showdown part of the bonus. Now three free spins are awarded, during which all those collected Wilds are released back onto the reels. The collected Multiplier applies to all winning combinations, which has the potential to create some huge wins!

You can Buy the Bonus

In some jurisdictions you can Buy the Bonus when playing Wanted Dead or a Wild, which is an incredibly popular feature with players. Now you don’t have to wait through seemingly endless spins in the hope that a bonus feature might spin up onto the reels. Just click or tap on the Buy the Bonus button, pick one of the three bonus features, pay the price, and it’s yours!

Each bonus comes with its own volatility rating, so you can assess the likelihood of recouping your stake. Great Train Robbery free spins have medium volatility and cost 80x your current wager. Duel at Dawn free spins come with very high volatility and a cost of 200x your stake. If you’re feeling exceptionally lucky you might prefer to go with the highly volatile Dead Man’s Hand respins, which will cost 400x your stake.

Obviously, there’s absolutely no guarantee that you’ll win back the cost of the spin. But the ability to activate the feature of your choice, exactly when you want to play it, continues to make Wanted Dead or a Wild a massive hit with players.

Streamers can’t get enough of it

We came across a blog post based around analytical data showing how Wanted Dead or a Wild has grown in popularity month on month. And this is almost certainly down to the streaming community on Twitch and YouTube, who offer up live slot game play to an enthusiastic audience.

This is PR heaven for the game developers, since no additional marketing is required. Online followers watch their favorite influencer spinning up insane winning combos and can’t wait to grab some of those potential payouts for themselves! Meanwhile the influencers love the fact that they can control game play to a certain extent, with a little help from a well-timed bonus buy.

Take a look at any streaming service offering online slot content, and it’s a given that you’ll find Wanted Dead or a Wild prominently displayed among the listings. This is a game that could have been made for this ready-made audience, since it looks superb, sounds great and has the potential to deliver the big wins that everyone is chasing.

So what does the future hold for Wanted Dead or a Wild?

So far, Hacksaw Gaming have been playing their cards close to their chest about what’s next for Wanted Dead or a Wild. But as we’ve seen with previous popular slots, such as Dead or Alive and Money Train, an enthusiastic and appreciative audience makes a sequel seem like a no-brainer.

But why stop at Wanted Dead or a Wild 2? How much would we love to see a Wanted Dead or Alive Megaways, if Big Time Gaming would provide Hacksaw Gaming with the necessary licence?

Slot Gods or not, we can’t unfortunately predict the future.  All we can do is wait and see – and keep our fingers firmly crossed for some sort of sequel that lives up to the reputation of the original! Wanted or a Wild!