Let’s go back in time for a moment. Do you remember the first television; that box-shaped device with barely any channels, antennae, and a black and white screen? The first films at the cinema were also shown in black and white, and above all were silent. What about the first mobile phone? (which looked nothing like the light, nifty gadgets glued to our hands on a daily basis) – they’ve developed into palm-sized personal computers! Thanks to technology everything around us has evolved. Slot machines are no exception. The first ever video slot, for example, had three spinning reels with ten symbols per reel, and if the right symbols lined up on your screen, you won flavoured gum and candy. The symbols on the reels dictated the flavour, for example, landing three cherries got you cherry flavoured gum. When slot machines became legalised, cash prizes were finally up for grabs.
Today’s slots are becoming more and more like video games with the installation of several fresh features designed to take user experience up to the next level and give players more stimulating ways of winning. The addition of more reels to give you five, six and seven reels worth of excitement to play on, has made three-reel slots a thing of the past. The symbols filling your reels are no longer ordinary icons, as this latest wave of video slots features bonus symbols, multipliers, Scatter symbols, and those all-time favourite Wild symbols designed in all shapes and forms. The pay-lines are also ever-growing giving you hundreds and thousands of ways to win – gone are those single-line slots! These are just a fraction of the upgrades made to the base game. Bonus games have become more advanced involving both luck and elements of skill. They feature more free spins and more innovative ways of winning those big cash prizes, via, trail ladders, pick ‘em style, and wheel of fortune type games. You’re also given the opportunity to double your winnings with a Gamble feature. Not to mention, that there are many online video slots with mammoth progressive jackpots on the table.
No matter what your taste, there are lots of different themed slots, lots of distinct features and several developers always looking to add new hooks to their games. If the more complicated games are not for you, there an abundance of retro-themed slots which have been given a boost, while still keeping their classic charm intact. Below is a list of every feature imaginable which you might come across when playing on any online video slot.
One of the popular "multi-way" forms of slot betting, 1,024 ways to win configures the reels to give you 1,024 paylines. To fit in so many winning possibilities, money can be won just by matching two symbols adjacently anywhere on the reels.
Popular in, but not exclusive to, Microgaming slots, 243-ways-to-win slots give you effectively 243 paylines. Instead of betting on each payline individually, a set stake is placed which is spread over all lines. The lines are fixed as well, so players have to bet on all 243 lines on every spin.
The Autoplay feature lets you programme a slot to spin automatically for anywhere from 1 to 100 spins. Autoplay is good if you want to play multiple slots on different sites at once.
Most modern online slots have at least one bonus feature. Bonuses like free spins, trail features, or progressive jackpots can be triggered by landing special 'Scatters' on the reels.
A popular feature in many online slots, Cascading Reels 'fall' onto the screen rather than spin. Winning symbols explode and disappear from view and are replaced by the symbols above. This carries on until no more winning lines are made.
Coins are the betting units used when playing online slots. Coin values can be set before a spin, and players can normally choose between one and five coins before playing.
Wild symbols (see below) substitute other symbols on the reels to help form new winning paylines. Expanding Wilds stretch at random up and down to fill the whole reel. This gives players three four 'Wilds' on a single reel.
Free spins is a feature normally triggered by landing three or more bonus Scatters anywhere on the game reels. A fixed or random number of free games is awarded to the player, and the feature can sometimes be retriggered by landing another three Scatters.
After a winning move, players sometimes have the option to double their winnings with a Gamble option. Normally it requires a 50/50 decision - choosing a red or black playing card, or an odd/even number. If players lose the Gamble, they lose their winnings.
Multipliers come in different forms, but usually when a symbol appears on the reels it multiplies the player's win. Common multiplier symbols can be a simple 2X or 3X (which multiply any wins on that spin by two or three respectively).
Nudges are a popular feature found in UK-style fruit machines. When triggered, players can shift a reel of their choice up or down one or two spaces to form winning paylines.
Another common feature of UK fruit machines is the Hold. It allows players to "freeze" any of the three reels in place for one spin.
A slot paytable displays the list of payouts, available symbols, and bonus features within a game. Paytables can also show the way paylines are arranged, and also game information like RTP (Return to Player percentage).
Slot paylines run across the reels and dictate whether a spin is a winner or not. The more paylines you have, the better your chance of winning money, but more paylines means a bigger outlay. Slots can vary hugely in the number of paylines they offer.
Not all reels have fixed Wilds. Some games feature Wilds that appear randomly after each spin. "Random" Wilds are still programmed into the slot software, so may not always be generous and regular.
Reel re-spins is a feature that is normally triggered after landing a special Wild or bonus symbol. The feature acts as a single free spin separate from the bonus Free Spins round. Several developers feature some type of Reel Re-Spin option.
A retriggered feature is a bonus round that can be activated more than once. Typically, the player will have to land three Scatters during the bonus feature. Some slots have unlimited retriggers while other features can only be retriggered once.
Commonly found in games by online developer, Genesis Gaming, the 'Rotating Reels' move through 90 degrees between each spin. This creates totally new configurations for the player and potentially bigger wins.
Scatters are special symbols that pay out regardless of where they land on the reels. Scatter symbols normally have a jackpot attached if you land five on a payline. They also trigger bonus rounds if you hit enough of them in a single spin.
Shifting Wilds are special symbols that move reels after each spin. If a player lands a Shifting Wild on Reel 5, for example, it will move to Reel 4 for the next spin, then Reel 3, and so on, until it falls off the reels. Shifting Wilds are great for giving players more chances to bag extra wins.
Split symbols appear in games by developers like IGT. They are like two symbols in one but occupying the same spot. A payline with five split symbols, therefore, would have TEN symbols in total.
As the name suggests, Stacked Wilds are where Wilds are placed on top one another on a single reel. Often, an entire reel (three rows) is filled with Stacked Wilds to give bigger wins.
Sticky Wilds work like regular Wilds - substituting for regular symbols - but they will stay in place for a further spin to give players another chance of bagging a win.
Transferring Wilds are special symbols that substitute for regular icons but 'copy' over to an adjacent set of reels. Normally, Transferring Wilds appear in games that have three or four sets of reels spinning independently from one another.
Similar to Cascading Reels, Tumbling Reels feature symbols that fall onto the screen to form winning lines. Winners disappear from view and are replaced by symbols above. This can give players multiple wins for "free".
The volatility of a slot is the regularity of its payouts. Low-volatility slots pay out small and often, while high-volatility slots have lots of barren periods before a big win. Finding a balance is key for serious slots players.
Found in slots from developer NetEnt, Walking Wilds work like Shifting Wilds (see above) - they move reels after each spin until disappearing from view entirely. They can also be known as Sliding Wilds.
Wild symbols are special icons that substitute for regular icons on the reels. Wilds generally won't substitute for Scatters (see above) but they often carry a prize multiplier if they are used. Wilds can come Stacked, appear at random, or move across the reels.
In most video slots, paylines run from left to right, i.e. starting from Reel 1 and moving right. However, Win-Both-Ways slots pay right-to-left too. This gives players the chance to win more often, but a bigger stake is required.