Wild symbols were first introduced to slot machines to add a bit of thrill and excitement, generating extra winning opportunities. Online slots have taken that one step further, using wild symbols as a key element in the creation of incredibly entertaining casino games.

Shifting wilds are thought to have first been introduced by the software developer Playtech, and they are one of a number of variations on the classic slot machine feature.

Wilds have always followed the same basic principal – that they can replace any symbol to create a winning line, with the exception of the scatter symbol. So, if you have a line of four matching symbol and a wild symbol across a five-reel slot, you will be paid out as if you had five matching symbols. Some wilds also have a value of their own and matching 3, 4, or 5 on a payline can result in huge wins, although on some slot machines wilds are limited to certain reels (often reels 2, 3, and 4).

What are Shifting Wilds?

Shifting wilds are an extension of sticky wilds. Once the sticky wild has appeared, it will stay on the reels for a period of time, creating more winning combinations each time as the reels spin around it. But where the sticky wild stays in one place the shifting wild moves around the reels. After it makes an appearance on the reels, a shifting wild will move one position on the reels in any direction for a number of spins, until it shifts off of the reels. This can provide a huge boost to a player’s bankroll, as the wild will generate wins every time it lands in a new position on the reels.

Other Types of Wild Symbol

Online casino developers have come up with a range of inspired ways of using wilds, which are a world away from the original mechanical slot machines. Some of the popular forms of wild include cascading wilds, expanding wilds, sticky wilds, and stacked wilds, and they can also make an appearance in bonus rounds to enhance winnings.

Cascading wilds are reminiscent of classic video games like Tetris, and when a winning combination is formed, it disappears to allow new symbols to drop into its place and generate more wins. Stacked wilds appear as a number of wild symbols stacked together and can fill an entire reel. They are great when they land, as they can create lots of winning paylines across the reels.

Expanding wilds work in a similar way, and also take advantage of complex video graphics. These animated wilds land in one position on the reels then grow to fill the entire reel creating lots of winning combinations across the screen.

Wilds in Online Video Slots

The mix of video gaming technology and online video slots has led to some highly entertaining and engrossing games, and wild symbols are an important part of that. When wilds hit the reels in modern slots, they are accompanied by complex graphics, sound effects and sometimes even video streaming.

There is a huge market for themed slots online, with many great games being developed from popular culture. Titles like The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 2 have been created from Marvel Comics, while TV hits like 24 and Game of Thrones have been developed into great online slots. These types of games all use iconic symbols of the theme for wild symbols, along with real action and storylines, and this makes for great all-round gameplay.

If you’re ready to hit the casino floor and try out some of these great slot machines, check out our guide to the best online casinos out there. And don’t forget to drop in on the bonus and promotion pages to get the latest offers for new customers.