??Features In Online Pokies Explained
The world of online pokies can be a weird and wacky place and although the video slot games tend to be easy to play, there’s a whole load of confusing terms that come with them.
Wild symbols, volatility, free spins, Megaways, progressives are just some of the names given to the features found when playing pokies online, and there’s plenty more where they came from too.
So let’s talk about crazy wild symbols, scatters, random jackpots, player journeys and everything else that gels together to make the pokies that we know and love.
Welcome to our A-Z inspired post covering all things pokies.
We’ll kick things off with the most talked about and most excited feature of any video slot – the wild symbols.
A wild symbol tends to be the best of the symbols that can appear on the reels and can fill the location of any other symbol.
If you’re looking to complete a pay-line, the wilds can act as whatever they need to get you that payout, with the exception of other bonus symbols (free spins, scatters etc.).
If you’re particularly lucky (or seek out the best games), wild symbols may come with a multiplier attached, making pay-lines more valuable for players.
An Expanding Wild is a wild symbol that first appears as a distinctive bonus symbol occupying a single symbol position before expanding to cover a larger number of symbols.
Depending on the pokie of choice, Expanding Wilds may stretch to cover all reels available in the game or may expand to cover a much smaller selection of symbol positions.
The expanding wilds may come with a standard multiplier that covers each of the size changes or may change with the expansion of the symbols.
Sticky wilds are exactly what they say on the tin – they’re wild symbols that stick on the reels for multiple spins.
These are particularly valuable to players as they allow for numerous winning combinations across a number of spins of the reels.
The number of spins that these wilds stick for will vary depending on the criteria of the game played.
Some games will offer a single re-spin, some offer a set number of spins, some remain in place until a win is hit and some expand, eventually filling the whole reel.
Sticky Wilds can also offer a win-on-repeat option allowing pokie players to claim free spins with each spin that the wild remains.
This can compound for some serious wins thanks to free spins and sticky wilds.
The random wild is the most common wild symbol found in online pokies with the wilds randomly appearing on the reels during play.
The wild symbols that find their way into play can act as just about anything (with the exception of other bonus symbols) to help players make their paylines.
These wilds may also come with a multiplier that may increase with the number of wilds present on the reels.
Shifting Wilds, also known as Walking Wilds, act much in the same way as a typical random wild symbol on the first spin, before shifting in the spins following.
The wild will appear on the reels during the first spin before shifting over to the next reel for the next spin, continuing until each reel has experienced the wild.
These wilds can appear on reel 1 and move their way to the right or on reel 5 before shifting left.
Whichever way they walk, Shifting Wilds allow for players to make several winning combinations during their 5-spin stays.
A Wild Reel is the name given when an entire reel is given the wild treatment, much in the same was that the Stacked Wild works.
The wild symbols will stack with one on top of the other to cover the entire reel rather than a single portion of one or multiple reels.
This allows players to make combinations of pay-lines across all lines, not just with a single symbol.
A Stacked Wild is the name given when two or more symbol positions are stacked with one on top of the other.
Typically, the Stacked Wilds will work by covering the entire reel and allows players to create winning combinations across each of the lines, rather via a single symbol position.
The Stacked Wilds will function much in the same way as a typical random wild, the difference is simply in the number of symbols covered in a vertical connection.
A multiplier wild is a wild that comes packed with an additional multiplier, allowing players to maximise their winnings when creating combinations.
The multiplier wilds are often found to be used in conjunction with other forms of wild and can be multiplied by each other if multiple wilds appear on the reels.
The size of the multipliers and how they function will differ from game to game, so it’s wise to check out the details before diving in.
The scatter symbol is a common bonus symbol featured in many typical 5-reel pokies and will permit a payout regardless of where it appears within the reels.
The scatter symbols are unique in that they are not required to be a part of a payline and will simply payout if they appear on any of the playing reels.
As the scatter symbols are a bonus feature, they are usually unable to be substituted with Wild’s meaning that if 3 scatter symbols are required for the bonus, a player will not typically receive the bonus when hitting 2 scatters a wild.
There are a number of different types of scatter bonus that can be claimed when playing pokies online including bonus scatters, scatter without bonuses, and expanding scatters.
Each game will likely come with a different set of rules, but once played, the scatter behaviour will instantly be recognised and understood.
Free spins are traditionally the most sought-after feature when playing slots with the general consensus of players understanding that large rewards can come their way when triggering the free spins feature.
Free spins are present in the majority of online pokies and can be triggered in three main ways.
The first is by landing a minimum of three bonus symbols in any configuration across the reels, the second is by a random free spin trigger and the third is by collecting a specified number of required symbols.
There are several different types of free spins available to players when enjoying pokies online with the most common offering a set number of free spins to players.
Other games may include variable free spins in which the number can change each time the free spins are triggered, some give players the option to choose a number of free spins and associated multiplier whereas others may produce an additional screen where players may find additional bonuses.
Free spins often come with a multiplier attached, maximising the winnings from the free spins for boosted wins.
These will differ in size from game-to-game, although a 3x multiplier is one of the most commonly seen bonuses.
Separate Bonus Game Rounds
As well as the typical reel-play, a pokie can have a bonus round in addition to the free spins feature.
These separate bonus game rounds come in many different forms and take the player away from the reels in favour of a bonus mini-game where prizes can be won.
Many game providers incorporate these into their games in several different ways.
Separate bonus game round may come in the form of a trail bonus (played like a board game), a combat round or a skill game.
These work to add a level of excitement to break up the reels with a separate quest that players look forward to.
Randomly Appearing Features
Randomly appearing features are, well, just that – features that randomly appear when playing pokies online.
Some games, such as Immortal Romance, will gift rewards to players at random intervals during the game and can take different forms.
Some slots will gift players a small sum of cash, others will offer players the chance to re-spin whereas some may prompt players to select a prize from a choice of mystery symbols.
The world of online slots has progressed mind-blowing amounts since their launch way back in the 1990s in their appearance, their bonuses, their features and most importantly, in their winning ways.
Traditionally, pokies played online would feature 10 or 15 pay-lines to keep players excited when playing the slots, but now there’s a whole new breed of reel-based games to get excited about.
From 243 and 1024 ways to win to Megaways and Mega Clusters, there are now seemingly unlimited ways to win when playing slots online.
Win Both Ways
Slots that allow players to win both ways function in creating payline combinations from the traditional left to right as well as the alternative right to left.
This permits players to win twice as many times in a single spin with the theory that players will find the pokie to be more profitable, although this isn’t always the case.
As the name alludes, a pokie with 243 ways to win allows players to wager across a total of 243 pay-lines on one spin of the reels.
With a total of 243 different paylines embedded into the base game, players are required to wager across all pay-lines on each and every spin.
This doesn’t mean that outrageous sums of cash are required to play and these slots are catered for all players to keep the majority interested.
These slots can be high-variance and with so many different pay-lines required to be wagered on, they’re not for everyone.
For high-variance fans and long-haulers, they’re a great addition to the online casino.
If you thought 243 ways to win seemed like a stretch, allow us to introduce you to the slots with 1024 different ways to win.
These slots abandon the idea of the conventional pay-line and allow for left-to-right, right-to-left and combination in the centre three reels to make 1024 different ways to win.
There’s no deselecting the number of pay-lines that you’d like to play in these slots and players will find themselves wagering on each of the 1000+ pay-lines.
Like the 243 ways to win slots, volatility is often high and a large bankroll is required to keep the variance in check.
They can be a fantastic addition to the online casino, but there’s no sense in wagering with small amounts on these slots.
Megaways Pokies have taken the world of pokies by storm thanks to an unrivalled number of pay-lines and different ways to win.
Created by Big Time Gaming, Megaways use a unique random reel modifier to take the world of online slots to a different level, offering between 15,625 paylines all the way up to a total of 248,832 different ways to win.
There are countless different games and themes all with a huge amount of ways to win to choose from at plenty of different sites.
Thanks to the success of the Megaways slots, Big Time Gaming went on to create the Megaclusters slots, a new engine taking a traditional reel-based game and giving it the chance to expand.
The standard grid is enlargened, enhancing the player experience with the opportunity to build more combinations and find more ways to win in the larger playing area.
This is achieved by splitting the standard symbols into smaller chunks e.g. 4 smaller symbols instead of 1 larger symbol in clusters across the reels (hence the name).
In addition to the increase in real estate, players will also find bonus rounds and modifiers to add to the gaming experience.
Reels are more than just placeholders to symbols and depending on your pokie of choice, they can be instrumental in creating combinations and cashing in on big wins.
Where once upon a time the reels remained stationary, in the modern age of the online video slot, these are now available to manipulate, forming an integral part of some titles.
There are a plethora of different ways in which they can be worked too, from cascading all the way down to tumbling reels available to play.
Developed by WMS / Barcrest comes one of the first of the dynamic reel features ever to grace an online pokie, the famous cascading reel.
The reels remain fixed as symbols drop from the top of the screen, forming winning paylines as they land before disappearing and making way for additional symbols to make their way to the pile.
Think of this like the Candy Crush Saga but for video slots, every time a winning combination is made, the connecting symbols are spent and make way for fresh symbols. The combinations can be never-ending with countless paylines created from a single spin.
A multiplier may also be used during this time with Barcrest slots adopting a 1x incremental multiplier up to a maximum of 10x, increasing with each cascade from a single spin.
Reel re-spins allow players a second chance at a potential win when they’re playing slots thanks to a replay-at-a-price option.
Unlike some innovative reel games, the standard game is played exactly as you may expect, matching symbols and creating combinations of paylines from left to right.
However, following the end of each spin, players are then given the option to spin single reels, keeping the others locked into place.
Players can choose as many re-spins as they like from the symbols that they have on the screen, but it comes with a catch.
Each re-spin comes at a price determined by the slot and the symbols on show at the time of play. Have a good chance of a large payout and you should expect to pay a premium for giving it a shot.
Although it’s not always the case, the rotating reel feature is one more commonly associated with bonus rounds than it is with typical play.
The bonus will play out exactly like any traditional slot as players look to create pay-line combinations from left to right.
However, when the rotating reels are triggered, players see a total of four 90 degree rotations with a payout for the pay-line combinations at each angle.
This essentially means that players will see the benefits of a 4x multiplier thanks to the rotating reels shaking up the situation and finding more winnings for players.
Tumbling reels is the final reel-based feature on our list and comes out of the BetSoft and IGT development labs.
Sugar Pop is perhaps the best-known example of tumbling reels and, like the cascading reel design, is in undoubtedly influenced by the popularity of the mobile game “Candy Crush Saga”.
The design allows for both vertical and horizontal pay-lines, much in the same way that the mobile game functions.
Pokies With Player Progression
Player progression, also known as “Reel Adventure”, has been an integral part of the online slot for a niche selection of pokies for a number of years now.
Games such as “Drive: Multiplier Mayhem”, “King Maker”, “Holy Diver” and “Immortal Romance” allow players to experience the slot journey as they make their way through the game, much like a typical video game.
This adds massively to the player experience as they reach higher levels and unlock improved benefits such as larger multipliers and better bonus rounds.
The majority of the time, the RTG of the slots remain constant, although some games do reward players for their loyalty with genuine benefits.
Volatility is a term often thrown around when talking about playing video slots online and each game available comes with a different volatility level.
When referring to slots, volatility refers to the size and the frequency of the payouts that players should expect to see when playing pokies.
The volatility of a slot is not given as a percentage or a figure but rather labelled as either high, medium or low.
A low volatility pokie is one which players will find many smaller wins when playing for long periods of time.
An example of this would be to find small returns every couple of spins that make the slot appear like it pays out regularly, despite the low values.
These slots are typically preferred by players with a smaller bankroll who perhaps would struggle without regular wins.
A high volatility pokie is the exact opposite of the low alternative with players finding very few, but larger wins when playing for long periods of time.
An example of this would be to find minimal wins over a large number of spins before one large win when playing the game.
These slots are typically preferred by players with a larger bankroll that are able to take larger hits before any potential larger wins.
Gamble features are some of the most exciting options available when playing pokies online and have included in slot machines since their debut into society.
Over time these gamble features have evolved and what was once a simple yes/no button can now be found in the form of different odds-based mini-games.
Most of these work with a 50/50 choice with players required to predict whether a virtual card drawn from a deck is red or black.
If the player predicts the colour of the card correctly, their earnings will be doubled, however, if they are incorrect, their winnings from the spin will be wiped from their balance.
In addition to the red/black card prediction, these gamble features can also be packaged as a coin toss, or a dice roll, both working much in the same way as the cards with a head/tails or odd/even approach respectively.
Bonus games are perhaps the most interesting area of the gamble features with some providers offering increased control and interactivity with their bonuses.
Although these can be exciting, they’re often not quite worth the risk in the majority of cases.
Jackpots are one of the most popular categories of slots enjoyed by countless players around the globe every single day.
It’s these slots that focus on one large pot of cash that players look to win by putting their best reels forward to collect the megabucks.
However, there’s not just the one type of jackpot-based slots, there are three main categories that every player should know about.
A progressive jackpot works much in the same way that a lottery functions with a small percentage of each wager used to fund the prize pool across multiple casinos.
These progressive jackpots only get larger as more and more people play, ready to pop on one lucky player who stands to win a multimillion-dollar fortune.
These are the slots of choice for the dreamers who are always looking to become the next big slot millionaire.
Fixed Coin Jackpots
A fixed coin jackpot is exactly what you’d expect it to be, a jackpot with a fixed value attached that players aspire to win.
The fixed coin jackpots come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, ranging from small to life-changing values up for grabs when players work to wager.
Daily jackpots are the most recent invention in the jackpot world and showcase time-sensitive jackpots designed to dish out a determined about of cash.
Introduced originally by Red Tiger Gaming, the time-sensitive jackpots will often feature promotions such as “must be won before X”.
These act as a great way for players to know exactly how much is up for grabs and when the noted amount is to be expected to be dished out.