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Expanding Scatters

The feature scatter symbols are one of the oldest in poker machines, with perhaps only the wild symbol being introduced to the world of pokies earlier. That means that scatters are in a huge number of online pokies, usually offering big prizes and sometimes helping players reach free spins games or other bonus rounds.

But while there are a lot of variations on the standard wild symbol, most scatter symbols just act as you’d expect. Still, there are a few exceptions to this rule, and one of them is the expanding scatter. This is a unique way to make scatter symbols just a bit more interesting for players, while still keeping the same general concept in play.

What is an Expanding Scatter Symbol?

This isn’t as easy a question to answer as you might think. Unlike a lot of the features commonly found on poker machines across the Internet, expanding scatters don’t exactly make regular appearances. That means that there’s no “standard” version of an expanding scatter that players expect, and manufacturers can play a bit fast and loose with this term.

Most of the time, it seems as though the “expanding scatter” is just a way of talking about any expanding symbol. This makes sense: since a typical scatter doesn’t have to cover any particular payline, and just pays out based on how many are on the screen, making a true scatter expand wouldn’t really matter much. On the other hand, making a regular symbol cover more positions increases the number of paylines it will cover, giving you a better chance of scoring multiple wins.

How Do Expanding Scatters Work?

Expanding scatters are most commonly offered in bonus rounds, usually in those that offer free spins. Typically, at the start of the round, you’ll be presented with a symbol that will become your expanding scatter for the entirety of the special bonus feature. Whenever that symbol appears on the reels, it will expand to cover the entire reel.

At first, this might not seem all that helpful, as it could even take some wins away from you: what if your expanding scatter takes away a symbol that would have won you a big prize on one of your paylines? This is definitely a risk with this feature, and can lead to some frustration. However, the benefits far outweigh the negatives: if you can land one of these symbols anywhere on several reels, the entire display will fill up with your expanding scatters, potentially making you a big winner on every payline.

Expanding Scatters Examples

Perhaps the most famous example of the expanding scatter comes from Book of Ra, an online poker machine created by Novoline aka Novomatic. This is a fairly simple game, perfect for those who don’t want too much going on in their pokies.

In Book of Ra, you can access a free spins game when you hit three or more book symbols anywhere on the screen during the main portion of the game. This will trigger 10 free spins, all of which will feature the same expanding scatter. Before your first free spin, you’ll see the pages turn through the Book of Ra, stopping at one symbol. That symbol will become the expanding scatter for the entire feature, expanding to fill its entire reel whenever it appears.

Another game that utilizes a similar feature is Viaden’s Lucky Pirate online pokie. Similar to Book of Ra, this poker machine has a free spins game that offers you an expanding scatter. You’ll see which symbol becomes the expanding one at the start of the bonus round, as a ship’s wheel spins until hitting the lucky symbol. The expanding scatter feature lasts through the entire free spins round.

There aren’t many games with this expanding scatter feature out there, but the ones that do have it tend to be relatively simple games that use this special symbol to add a little more variety to the gameplay. If you like the look and feel of classic slots, but want just a bit more action, expanding scatters might be the kind of feature you should seek out.

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