First of all, let me apologize to the Trekkie community: I wouldn't have used this Vulcan proverb if it wasn't a perfect fit for the point I'm trying to make. Over the last century, pokies have become incredibly widespread. The reason for them to be so much appreciated by the operators is simple: they are incredibly versatile. If you try free online casino and online pokies games at the Online Pokies Fun website, you'll see that pokies are available in the greatest diversity. No matter if it's a desktop or a mobile device, pokies are there in an incredible variety - an almost infinite diversity in an almost infinite combination of bonuses, features, and side games.
Reels, rows, and win lines
The original pokie machine built in the late 1890s by a San Francisco mechanic had three reels, a total of five symbols placed randomly on them, and a single win line. Over the years all of these have expanded. Today's average video pokie machine has five reels, three rows, and up to 243 ways to win. I say "average", because there are many variants with many different setups available online.
There is a complete category of pokies built to "simulate" the classic ones played in Las Vegas, with three reels, and all the traditional symbols - sevens, BARs, fruit, and bells. There are others that operate with five or six rows, and up to 1024 win lines. The pokie with the most win lines I've ever tried had 100 - it was an interesting concept, but not a viable one, that's for sure.
Side games and jackpots
One common element in today's pokies is the "Free Spins" feature. Most of them have a Scatter symbol, not bound by win lines, that is used to trigger the free games. These symbols are rare, and at least three of them have to land on the screen to trigger the side game. Many pokies also come with bonus side games, often associated with jackpots. These are either triggered randomly or need to be activated by a certain combination of symbols landing on the screen. This is one part of the pokies where developers have absolute creative freedom - I've seen racing games, first person shooters, wheels of fortune, and many other side games used for this purpose.
Jackpots are perhaps the most attractive feature of pokie machines. These are massive amounts paid out by the game, either at random, or as a result of a bonus game of the type I described above.
Another aspect of the pokies that gives developers a lot of creative freedom is their look and feel. Developers look for inspiration for their games in all the places. Although there are many preferred themes for pokies - the riches of Egypt, the lucky symbols of Ireland, and a few others - developers dress up their games in the most diverse "clothes" you can imagine. Cars, sports, music, fishing, movies and TV shows are all among the themes that have been used for creating online pokies. There are not many themes left unexplored by the casino game industry. Given the rate at which new pokies are released, I hope we won't run out of themes very soon...