Online slots

What are Wild Symbols?

Welcome to the wonderful world of wild symbols, where losers become winners, and winners become even bigger winners – of course we’re talking about combinations on a slot payline here! You might think the line-up of symbols you have just spun looks like a loser, but throw a wild in there and hey presto, we have a winner!

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How wild symbols work

Derived from the card game term “wild card”, wild symbols can transform themselves to replace any standard game symbol (NOT free spins, scatters and other bonus symbols) either to the side and / or above and below it to create a winning slots payline. To illustrate, let’s imagine you’re playing the very popular Mega Moolah progressive slot game. You hit the spin button and a giraffe-lion-giraffe sequence appears on the payline. Ordinarily this wouldn’t pocket you anything, but in this slot’s case the lion is wild – thereby it actually counts as a giraffe, resulting in a 3-giraffe combo win! Now let’s say you have three giraffes and a lion – the wild transforms again giving you a 4- giraffe payline – and a much bigger win. But, replacing other symbols is just a wild symbol’s essential function, they can get a lot more involved and interesting than that!

Wild symbol features

Typically, the wild symbol will fit in perfectly with the slot’s theme and display the word “wild”. These symbols can be found in every type of online slot machine, whether it’s 3-reel, 5-reel or progressive slots. 

There are different types of wilds you can come across when playing slots online:

  • Random Wild Symbols

    As the name suggests, these wild symbols pop up randomly to substitute other icons and assist wins. They’re very commonly found in most online slot games. Popular slots featuring random wilds include Microgaming’s Immortal Romance and The Dark Knight.

  • Multiplier wilds

    In some slots wild symbols can act as multipliers, thereby multiplying your winning payout. These multipliers can range anywhere from 2x up to 25x. A popular slot featuring multiplier wilds is IGT’s Pharaoh’s Fortune

  • Stacked Wilds

    Stacked wild symbols travel around the reels displayed as single wild symbols placed on top of each other in “stacks” of three. When the reels stop spinning you might see only one end of the wild stack appearing at the top or bottom of your screen, you might see two wild symbols together, or you might see the whole stack occupying an entire reel. And when the slot you’re playing offers stacked wilds that are also multipliers, you could be in for some juicy jackpot wins! Stacked wilds can also leverage free spins in separate bonus games, or generate re-spins where the wilds stay in place while the rest of the reels spin, creating more chances to win.

  • Expanding Wilds

    Like stacked wilds, expanding wilds also occupy two, or more reel positions. The difference with expanding wilds however, is that it appears as an individual wild symbol that will expand to cover all the positions on that reel to give you a winning payout. Popular slots featuring stacked and expanding wilds include 88 Fortunes and Avalon II.

  • Trailing Wilds

    During a spin, a trailing wild will create a copy of itself. The original wild symbol remains in its original position, while the copy slides down one position on the reels. This process can repeat on the next spin, until the last position on the reel has been occupied by a wild symbol. A popular slot featuring trailing wilds is Wild Knights King’s Ransom.

  • Sticky Wilds

    Yes, these wilds really are sticky in the sense that they stick on the reels for more than one spin. They’re a favourite amongst players because they can appear in multiple spins, thereby enabling the possible formation of several winning combinations. A popular slot featuring sticky wilds is Santa’s Wild Ride.

  • Moving Wilds

    Moving wilds are a variation of Sticky wilds; they also stick to the reels through multiple spins, but instead of staying fixed, they bounce around on the reels to give you the best winning combination. A popular slot featuring moving or shifting wilds is Playtech’s Dolphin Cash.

  • Straight / Diagonal Wild Symbols

    These types of wild symbols are so-called for the ways they can position themselves across reels 2 and 4 (Diagonal), and vertically down reel 3 (straight). They are sometimes also classified under Shifting/Moving wilds. Diagonal wilds can appear while Straight wilds are in play, which can lead to great excitement as any symbols touched by the moving wild symbols are transformed. A popular slot featuring Straight / Diagonal wilds is Netent’s Fisticuffs.

  • Other

    It is also possible for wild symbols to show up grouped together in other variations. For example, the Spinata Grande offers 3×3 colossal Wild Symbols, and the Guns n’ Roses slot sports a cross-shaped wild symbol.

Gamemakers are becoming more and more innovative, so you will definitely find additional unique wild symbols with exciting functionalities to add to this list. Just remember to check your casino’s paytable to make sure which slots offer wild symbols. As mentioned, they do feature in most slots, and knowing how they work will add another level of enjoyment to your gameplay.