Not All Persistence Games Persist

Those in the slot world know all about the minutiae of game mechanics and how the various kinds of persistence games perform at various levels. The rest of us may need some more explaining, and that’s where Brendan Moore (l.), director of slot performance & analytics at Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, can help.

Not All Persistence Games Persist

If you’ve ever caught yourself on a slot machine chasing a chubby pig or a pot overflowing with gold coins, you’ve played a persistence game. Persistence style games come in different flavors, but at the highest level, there’s two kinds worth mentioning: True Persistence and Perceived Persistence. In 2021, we saw True Persistence as the attribute du jour, while recent game design has emphasized Perceived Persistence (these are also sometimes referred to as “metamorphic”).

True Persistence games increase time on device because players are awarded with equity on the screen through features like Progressive Free Games or Cash on Reel prizes. Some persistence games like Aristocrat’s Cashman Bingo and IGT’s Scarab run on a single cycle. When a bingo is generated, any unclaimed credit values accrued are lost and the cycle is restarted. With Scarab, after the 10-game cycle is complete, a new cycle is started.

Other games like Light & Wonder’s Cash Falls and IGT’s Wolf Run Eclipse are continuous persistence cycles—meaning there’s almost always equity accrued on the screen or a different pot to chase. However, the nuances don’t end here. Cash Falls is a short-term persistence cycle while Wolf Run Eclipse cycles have a larger start-to-end gap with several cycles to pursue.

According to Figure 1, True Persistence games provide similar performance to the competitive set with a similar degradation rate. We’ve found that these games are best suited in high traffic areas of the slot floor. This is so that the Persistence cycle is refreshing as much as possible and to minimize time players balk at play if the values are at near reset.

Figure 1: Performance of New Core Video by Persistence Type
Source: EILERS-FANTINI Game Performance Database

Referring again to Figure 1, we find two interesting takeaways: 1) True Persistence games hit below zone average after only 5 months on the floor. 2) After 8 months on the floor, True Persistence games do worse than the average new core video. Needless to say, there are exceptions – Aristocrat’s Buffalo Ascension, a True Persistence game where the player spends resources growing the reel matrix, is doing very well just about everywhere.

On the other hand, Perceived Persistence games are purely Persistence cycles that are supplemented by visual/audio indicators—in other words, there’s no change in Return to Player (RTP) from spin to spin. In Bao Zhu Zhao Fu games, Aristocrat masterfully draws players in as their spins grow the sparks on the three animated firecrackers above.

With the firecrackers about to explode, it seems each wager is likely to provide a lucrative bonus unlike traditional bonuses that require 3 to 6 scatter symbols. Contrast this with a True Persistence game where players can mentally calculate their ROI and whether it’s worth it to stay on the game—and oftentimes, it’s an easy decision for a player to cut their losses.

Perceived Persistence games generate significantly higher performance relative to their True Persistence counterparts and competitive set (see Figure 1). Games with any Perceived Persistence mechanism clocked in at 64 percent of the EILERS-FANTINI Top 25 New Core Video in the July 2023 report. This number was even higher in February, at 76 percent of the list.

But why are Perceived Persistence games so popular? One reason is because they’re typically paired with a number of pots to chase. Each pot can trigger a bonus, and in many cases, the bonuses can be triggered simultaneously (we call this “Feature-in-Feature” or “Feature Combo” internally). Thus, it may not be the Persistence mechanism itself but rather its symbiotic relationship with the pot chase.

Another theory for the success of these games is that they’re able to deliver excitement to the player in exchange for time on device without sacrificing additional RTP. RTP is a finite resource so game designers can keep the returns in bonus features while still generating excitement in the base game through Perceived Persistence elements. Compare this to a traditional slot without a base game feature where a player could go hundreds of spins without any meaningful action.

In the world of smartphones, slot machines are not only competing with other slot machines but also with text messages, Tik Tok and Facebook. Persistence features help keep the player engaged. With the demonstrable success of this technique, we predict this feature becoming increasingly mundane throughout the rest of 2023 and into 2024 although True Persistence games may fall out of favor.

Note: Games with market entrance data of 12/01/2021 or later are included. Class 3 Core Video Reels only. Games with both Perceived and True Persistence attributes are classified as True Persistence games.

The EILERS-FANTINI Game Performance Database tracks almost 400K slots internationally. Our Game and Cabinet Performance Reporting is free to participating operators. Additionally. We track these attributes along with many others in the Eilers & Krejcik Game Attribute database available to Premium Subscribers. If you would like a demonstration or would like to receive EILERS-FANTINI Game Performance Reporting, contact Brendan Moore at for inquiries.

Articles by Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is slot analytics manager at Eilers & Krejcik Gaming LLC. Contact him at to learn more about participating in the Eilers & Krejcik game performance database.