What Are Scatter Symbols In Slots?


The only way to draw out some value from a dud spin, scatter symbols are often our saving grace when we hit the slots, so if you’re a newbie to the venture, It’s essential that you learn what scatter symbols are before pulling the real or virtual lever, which is where I come in!

What Are Scatter Symbols In Slots?

Consider this your comprehensive guide to scatter symbols in slots. Stick with me and you’ll be ready to drop your first quarter in no time.

What Do Scatter Symbols Look Like?

First of all, you need to know how to identify scatter symbols. Thankfully, in most games, the scatter symbol will be labeled as such, which is perfect, as the symbols themselves differ from machine to machine and game to game. But what if the scatter symbol isn’t labeled?

Well, generally speaking, the scatter symbol will follow the theme of the game closely rather than being a generic symbol such as a club or a diamond. For instance, If you’re playing a wild west themed game, the scatter symbol might be a cowboy hat or a gun. 

To give a real-life example, consider the popular online slot game The Book of the Dead. The scatter icon in this game is a book, and if you were to play a different game, the scatter symbol would change in accordance with the theme.

Why Are They Called Scatter Symbols?

Your ultimate goal when playing the slots is to land one of the many pay lines. These winning symbol combinations are pre-determined and infallible. In other words, you will not trigger a payout by landing any other combinations.

Scatter symbols, on the other hand, don’t have to conform to any of these established pay lines in order to benefit the player.

They can arrive in any spot and have an impact on the outcome, which is why they’re referred to as scatter symbols — They can be scattered across the reels in any which way and still have purpose.

What Do Scatter Symbols Do?

Scatter symbols can have any number of effects on a spin — It all depends on the rules of the game you’re playing. Their most common purpose is to trigger bonus game features.

For example, they might afford you an extra spin for free, act as a multiplier, or (if they’re also wild) act as a substitute for one of the other cymbals in certain pay lines, thus giving you a higher chance of landing a win — Thanks, scatter symbols!

However, they’re not always included to broaden the game with bonus developments. Sometimes, they form the highest-paying reel connection combo, meaning if you can line them up, you’ve won big!

There’s also a third possibility that the scatter symbols can pay out and provide bonuses simultaneously.

How Many Scatter Symbols Do You Need To Trigger A Bonus?

Again, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer here, as the nature of the scatter symbols and their influence on the game comes down to the discretion of the game designer.

Some games will ask for 3 scatter symbols to activate a bonus such as a gratis spin, a jackpot side round, or pick-me game.

Other games will require 4 or more scatter symbols to appear anywhere on the reels to trigger the attached bonus, especially those with more reels.

A Real-Life Example Of How Scatter Symbols Work

Let’s take a look at the Dead or Alive II slot game for an example of scatter symbols in action. In this game, scatter symbols lead to one of two outcomes…

You Win Your Bet

Two scatter symbols see you come out on top in Dead or Alive II, with the amount you win determined by the number given in the pay table. You’ll receive your bet multiplied by said number.

You Get A Free Spin

Three scatter symbols anywhere on the reels get you another spin in one of three games (you can choose which one you play).

This is just one possible allocation of scatter symbols in slots. There are pretty much an infinite number of possibilities for these mysterious and versatile symbols.

Do All Slots Use Scatter Symbols?

Scatters are a fantastic way to make a game more interesting and boost the chances of a player pulling a beneficial spin, and while they are a common addition, you won’t find them in every single slot game out there. Starburst, for example, doesn’t employ this symbol type.

Is It Better To Play Slots With Scatter Symbols Than Those Without Them?

Scatter symbols are certainly an enticing prospect for players, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should stick to scatter symbol games exclusively.

Yes, they provide some respite when you might not be winning the traditional lines, but that’s not to say you’re going to wind up broke playing a game without them.

Typically, a slots game that omits the scatter symbol will offer a lot more ways of winning or an alternative method of introducing bonuses, giving them just as much win potential as their scatter-dense counterparts.

Unless, that is, they’re designed to be a medium- to high-volatility game, in which case, the pay-outs will be larger, but the risks will also be greater, so remember, only gamble what you can afford to lose.

If you do win, keep a level head and know when to cash out.

Are Scatter Symbols Always The Same In The Same Game?

A lot of the time, scatter symbols will be uniform in a slot game, but depending on their purpose, there may well be a few different versions of scatter symbols.

For instance, let’s say that the purpose of the scatter symbols in a game was to offer one of a few different mini games, but the player doesn’t get to choose which game it is.

The designer of the game could randomize it, but that’s quite a complex procedure. Instead, they’ll simply include different scatter symbols, each tied to a different mini game.

Final Thoughts

As players are understandably focused on the pay lines when they take to the slots, it’s no surprise that scatter symbols are often treated as an afterthought, but if you want to maximize your chances of a payout, you won’t underestimate this key aspect of the game.

Richie Thames

Hi, my name is Richie Thames and I have been a software developer for 12 years. I have worked on some of the most popular online slot machine games, including ones you still see in online casinos today. While there is no simple trick to win the jackpot, there is power in learning about your game before playing. With several decades of experience under my belt, I created this website in the hopes of helping newbies on their journey. Please, enjoy my website, and I hope you learn something valuable about the art of gambling. Who knows, maybe you’ll be the next jackpot winner?

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