What could be better in a slot game than all its added bonus features? Playing a video slot to win money is, of course, one of the prime reasons that many people play the games, but just as many people, if not more, play an online game for the actual game play. So, things like its graphics, animations, theme, storyline, payouts, and ultimately, its extra additions are what people watch out for.

While many slots now have a standard addition of a wild symbol and a scatter symbol included as a general rule, there’s another special feature that takes some products that incorporate it up to the next level. That special feature is expanding wilds.

What are Expanding Wilds?

Anyone who has played a slot game, be it a land-based machine or an online video slot, will have no doubt come across wild icons. This particular addition to slots has been around since the very first classic slots with only three reels were introduced to the world. These wild icons act in the same way across all games, in that they substitute for any other standard symbol on the reels, and in doing so, can create greater opportunities for winning combinations.

Well, it’s time for the standard wild symbol to move over and make way for the expanding wild. The underlying features of an expanding wild are generally exactly the same as a standard wild, meaning that they too will stand in for all other symbols to create a win. The exception to both standard and expanding wilds is that they won’t substitute for scatter or bonus icons.

Expanding wilds work their magic on a slot game by doing exactly what their name suggests – expanding. This sees the wild icons expand across the length of a reel, making every symbol on that particular reel a wild symbol in the process. This obviously provides a multitude more opportunities to create winning combinations considering that a whole reel now acts as a stand in for all other standard symbols. When other wins are created after this occurs, they are added to your balance as any normal win would be.

Expanding Wild Pictures

Expanding wilds don’t only expand to cover the entire reel and make it entirely wild, but most of the time will also feature its own special animation. For example, in the game Lucky Lager from Nyx Interactive, the mug of beer acts as the expanding wild icon. Should this feature in a winning combination, the beer will overflow and flood over the whole reel.

Such animations are quite frequent when it comes to the expanding wilds, and these will usually run with the theme of the game. So, just as the ‘Lucky Lager’ game incorporates an overflowing beer mug, Netent’s ‘Thief’ includes the same type of animation, but with an image of the thief character from the game showing across the entire reel instead.

How to Activate

It’s true of all icons, except the scatter symbols, that they need to be included in a winning combination to trigger any sort of feature that they may behold. The same is very much true for expanding wilds. While the icon may appear on the reels at various times, unless it is substituting for another symbol on the reels, it will not expand.

However, provided it does act as a stand in at one point or another, all the wonders of it will be unleashed, allowing you to marvel at how many more wins you can potentially claim from a single spin.

One more thing to note is that the expanding wilds don’t always feature throughout the base game of the video slot. Sometimes they’re active all the way through a product. However, there are certain slots that only include them within a freespins or bonus round, so you may need to trigger a completely different bonus feature in order to start seeing the inclusive wilds start spreading across a reel or two.

A Slight Alternative…

This particular feature of slot games doesn’t necessarily always expand to cover an entire reel when it becomes active. There are a few games here and there that will send a wild symbol expanding across a row, rather than down or up a reel. A game that can be considered a good example of such is Elk Studios’ game, ‘DJ WILD’, which includes both vertical and horizontal expanding wild icons throughout the entire game. While possibly not as effective as that of a vertical expansion, it still brings a pretty new twist on a still relatively recent introduction to slot games.