Features are the things that set modern slot machines apart from their old-school counterparts. In the days before the internet, when the only place to find slots was in arcades, slot halls and on casino floors, you were limited to simple mechanical devices. These had a limited number of reels and symbols, they triggered limited jackpots and they had no interactivity and nothing to keep the player hooked for hours on end.
That is definitely not the case with modern slots, and it’s the features, including bonus features and wild features, that have changed that. But what sort of features are available, what do they mean for the player and where can they lead?
Why Were Features Introduced?
Simply put, developers added these features because they could. When the online gambling revolution began, developers realised they had a host of new technology at their fingertips, and they used that to turn slots from simple gambling machines into action-packed mini-games. You see, the older slot machines were very simple and only featured one payline and three reels, like the Lucky 7 slot machine. Many people enjoy this type of game, but there were a big market that were left untapped by only employing a simple game like this.
The software developers started to experiment by mixing things up a bit. Some started to add more reels and paylines to increase the excitement on every spin. Bigger jackpots were also added to cater to the lottery fanatics. But some people liked interactivity and lots of stuff happening on the screen. That is when bonus games, cut-scenes and other stuff were added. More and more bonus features are added, with alternative ways of reels spinning and money being paid out. This caters more to the game players as things are happening and you feel like you are actually playing a game instead of just hoping for the best.
What Did This Do For The Industry?
Online slots are more popular than offline slots have ever been, and this is because they are colourful, feature-packed and exciting — enough to attract millions of new players. As games get even more advanced and features become even grander, these slots will draw in more and more players. Sure, the ones you find in a brick and mortar casino is pretty good and some have features that cannot be matched by the online versions (yet!), but the sheer volume found online cannot be matched.
What Features Are Available?
It all depends on the slot and the type of feature. There are jackpots, bonus features and wilds, and these all have sub-groups of features. It can be a little confusing to new players, so if you are bamboozled by the many names just take a look at the brief descriptions below and at the detailed descriptions found throughout this section:
- Free Spins - A free spins feature simply gives you a number number of free spins, often with a multiplier to increase your earnings. These spins can sometimes be re-triggered and are often triggered via scatter symbols.
- Bonus Round - The bonus round is a graphical round that operates like a mini-game, taking you on an adventure and potentially unlocking a big jackpot. This feature is often unlocked via a specialised bonus symbol.
- Instant Win - A quick, simple and often small payout, the instant win feature is often unlocked at random, but can also come via scatter symbols.
- Choose-Me - This is a common bonus feature whereby you make one or more selections. More often than not, you’ll be faced with a number of random items, and once you click these they turn into a cash amount.
- Interactive Bonus Round - Most bonus rounds are random and require little to no interaction from the player. The interactive bonus round is different and involves a greater level of interactivity.
- Randomly Triggered Feature - This can be anything, including a free spins round or a choose-me round, but the way the feature is unlocked is different. It occurs completely at random, without the need for bonus or scatter symbols.
The coveted wild. A slot symbol that gives you wins left and right. The wild symbol acts as a joker in the sense that it can act as the best symbol on each payline it connects with. In some slot games it can also be a bonus game unlocker if you get enough of them.
- Wild Reels - This turns one or more of the reels wild. In most games it is part of a free spins feature, but in games like Western Belles, it is something that players can stake extra for.
- Sticky Wilds - When activated, this locks a wild symbol in place and keeps it there for at least one more spin.
- Stacked Wilds - This can turn a reel wild, but it can also work horizontally and on some slots it can turn all symbols on all reels wild.
- Locked Wilds - This feature can be found on games like Wild Gambler, allowing the player to pay in order to keep wilds and other symbols locked in place.
- Moving Wilds - This lands on the reels at random and then moves around for each spin. It usually occurs as a small additional feature, but it can also be seen on free spin features.
- Multiplying Wilds - This is a wild symbol that doubles, triples (or more) a winning payline.
- Progressive Jackpot - Beginning with the Microgaming classic Cash Splash, the progressive jackpot slot offers a single jackpot, and one that keeps on growing whenever someone takes a spin. A very small amount from that spin is added to the jackpot total, before that amount is given to one lucky winner. On many slots you need to meet a minimum bet criteria in order to qualify for the progressive jackpot.
- Multiple Progressive Jackpots - These slots offer more than one progressive jackpot, usually to cover for the many different stake levels. On Mega Moolah, for instance, there is a progressive jackpot for 4 stake levels, with the lowest returning an average of less than $100, and the highest returning an average of $7 million.
- Base Game Jackpot - The base game jackpot is simply the biggest amount you can win by getting the maximum amount of a single symbol on a single payline in the base game. This is rarely more than 10,000x your line bet.
- Highest Payout - This amount is the maximum win available on the game. This often applies to non-progressives, but it can include those slots as well. This is often the amount that can be won by going all of the way in the bonus feature or by winning the biggest amount in a free spins feature.