This year at the recent Indian Gaming Tradeshow in Anaheim, CA, executives from the leading game technology companies discussed their latest games and product innovations for the Indian gaming industry. Here is what they had to say…
Nick Nistler, Product Manager
Gabe Baron, VP Table Products
Nistler: We are thrilled to showcase Rakin’ Bacon Deluxe with player selectable multi-denom, on the Orion Curve Premium. We also have Golden Dragon on our Orion Stawrall, giving players explosive win opportunity in the free games and also features player selectable multi-denom. In terms of core for sale content, we are debuting the Mighty Power family and Ultimate Rise family – both brand new families from AGS coming out this summer. We also have two exciting families that are proven performers out in the market today, including Coin Bonanza – Lucky O’Reilly, and Pyramid Party; and Imperial 88 – Panda Blessings and Monkey Legends.
Baron: The buzz has really been with two products during the show. First, with our Pax S shuffler, a single-deck specialty table game shuffler. One deck is ‘in play’ while the other is being shuffled. The product deals all of the specialty games a casino’s customers expect to find on a gaming floor, securely and efficiently.
The other is definitely our newest progressive system, Bonus Spin Xtreme. This product can link all table games – even those of unlike math – to a shared meter using a single seed amount. Think about connecting games such as roulette, baccarat, craps, blackjack, and all of the other specialty games to one meter – the meter will be moving more quickly building more excitement, and because each is based on community trigger events, the camaraderie of an event occurring really brings the excitement home similar to how players celebrate hitting points on a craps table. It truly is a fantastic product and a driving force to allow casino table executives a means to innovate on their floors.
Hector Fernandez, CEO
Tom O’Brien, President of Americas & EMEA
Fernandez: We have continued to invest in design and development, even throughout the pandemic, and particularly, we continue to invest in games specific to Class II and the tribal market. One of the things we saw 3-4 years ago was the importance of creating bespoke content for the tribes and for Class II product. It’s been a partnership with the tribes and it is so strong now.
One of the things we said is, ‘Let’s make sure we don’t forget our legacy product, our legacy footprint.’ And then we said, ‘Let’s bring some of the Aristocrat ability to create video reels and video product,’ and you can see that in Hunt for Neptune’s Gold. That product has done amazing. Because there’s so much good content in Class II that VGT had, we continued to develop these stories, just like movie sequels do – take the characters and bring them to life in different games. This creates an entertaining experience where players will recognize a character, and then want to go play that next game.
O’Brien: Our new Neptune Single cabinet with Buffalo Ascension, a brand-new product, launched live at the show, which we are very excited about. We are also excited about Buffalo Gold Max Power on MarsX Upright as a game to watch. Proven performers, Bao Zhu Zhao Fu in Class III and Hunt for Neptune’s Gold in Class II have been number one on Eilers for weeks and continue to grow.
Fernandez: Indian Gaming 2022 isn’t all about bringing a piece of the G2E portfolio here. It’s about bringing new material, new content, new product, to really demonstrate the investment Aristocrat is willing to make. With Bao Zhu Zhao Fu, we actually launched that digitally first, and tested it digitally. We launched it and then made iterations as we got player feedback. When we were ready to make the land-based game, we had already worked through a lot of player preferences. We did that with Cashman Bingo as well. And you’re starting to see this, because the process is much more nimble. Once you have it on the physical cabinet, it’s a lot harder to make changes, and we’re starting to see a lot of success launching digitally first.
Tim Minard, CEO
I’m excited about the people we’ve had join our team in the last six months. I’m also excited about the 16 new titles we have coming out, which are a reflection of the people and the progress everybody’s making. Additionally, we have our new 49” cabinet launching, the Impact 49, a 4k portrait cabinet. Our booth at Indian Gaming 2022 reflects our commitment to tribal gaming. We are so pleased to showcase Cherokee tribal member, John Balloue, whose art we are featuring in our booth and who is signing prints. It’s part and parcel to what Eclipse Gaming is all about – committed to tribal gaming.
There is a lot of excitement around our new Big Shake games. These games grab everything that’s been exciting about a coin pusher and brings together the right math and technology. I’m super excited about that. We have two Big Shake games on display – Big Shake Carnival and Big Shake Neon. They combine that classic arcade coin pusher with a slot game. You can see and feel the coins on the edge and the anticipation for players is so exciting as they wait for the coins to pour-over. It’s a lot of fun.
Our ‘Beyond the Game’ commitment is the reason why these games are featured in our Impact series – to have an impact. We want to try to do a lot of good Beyond the Game, and our team’s culture has grabbed onto that. It’s what drives us on a daily basis.
Dean Ehrlich, EVP & Games Business Leader
Jeffrey Hoss, VP Product Marketing
Ehrlich: We are showcasing our new Player Classic Signature, which is a three-reel mechanical reel, focusing specifically in high denomination. The other product from a premium standpoint is our Smokin’ Hot Stuff Wicked Wheel Fire & Ice. Those are, I would say, the two bigger things that we are showcasing.
After the success we had with the original Smokin’ Hot Stuff Wicked Wheel, Fire & Ice adds so many new elements that I’m interested to see resonate on the floor. And just like before, that’s a Player Classic Signature, but we’ve redesigned the cabinet to have much more extensibility.
The tribes are excellent partners that are on the front end of new technologies – not just cabinets, but also with regard to our FinTech side. The level of partnership is awesome.
Hoss: A common theme we’ve heard throughout the lead up to the tradeshow has been the need for more self-service capabilities. For instance, there are industry-wide challenges from a staffing perspective affecting many properties. On the FinTech side, we have three products that we are especially excited about. Jackpot Xpress, helps pay out jackpots much faster and reduces the time it takes to do so by 50%. We are also excited about our enrollment capabilities for loyalty with Enroll Kiosk. And from a cash wallet standpoint, our CashClub Wallet, helps provide self-service capabilities to reduce lines. CashClub Wallet includes funding at the gaming device and payments at point of sale – a true cashless experience, all while providing customers multiple options to access funds while on the casino floor. Each of these products provides the opportunity for casinos to redisperse employees to more important areas on property, and to better interact with customers on deeper issues and circumstances that arise. Between CashClub Wallet, Jackpot Xpress, and our loyalty solutions, these are key pieces to help drive self-service solutions for
the casino industry.
Jean Venneman, Chief Commercial Officer
We are excited to be continuing the debut of our VertX Grand cabinet, which we launched at the very end of 2021. We also have new themes that have never been seen here at the show, which is exciting. We are getting a lot of attention, especially when it comes to Casino Wizard VIP, which is a game that has eight table games inside of it. We refer to it as ‘pit in a box’ internally. We also have a game called Kung Fu Empress, which was recently approved in most jurisdictions, and we are also very excited to see it in the market. It’s received a lot of attention because it has a great character, tons of fun animation, and a great math ride as well. We have a wide range of diversity in our portfolio right now.
The tribes have been incredible partners of Gaming Arts and were some of our first customers. We didn’t know what to expect here in Anaheim as this is a new location for the show. Everybody who has come through have been important decision makers. It’s been really great to be able to spend quality time with them in a little bit more relaxed environment.
Phil O’Shaughnessy, VP Global Communications, Events & Sustainability
Knute Knudson, VP of Global Business Development and Tribal Ambassador
O’Shaughnessy: Although we’ve experienced our share of virtual shows over the past few years, nothing beats an in-person trade show. Our partners have approached us a lot this year about multi-level progressives. With a game like Prosperity Link, for example, IGT puts extensive research into these games, tests them, and then makes sure that they are refined with performance behind them before they are introduced to market. And when you look at the Eilers reports, it’s really evident that we put a lot behind these games, and they are delivering genuine performance. IGT multi-level progressives right now are really hot, and it’s exciting to see our tribal customers come directly to our booth and ask for them by name.
We continue to innovate on the hardware side as well. We introduced our Peak65 cabinet at G2E, which has taken off. We have both Wheel of Fortune and Megabucks here, but we’re also advancing in the stepper space. When we introduced the S3000 cabinet, it created a renaissance for the stepper category in the industry. We now have the Diamond RS cabinet. What that has is something called transmissive reels, where on top of the mechanical reels themselves, you are able to put video content. It makes for a really compelling live play experience where you not only have the excitement of what’s happening on the reels, but animations and color that create an awesome entertainment experience. Mechanical reel players enjoy that classic slot experience, but they also welcome some refreshing technology that enhances the game play. I think with the IGT Diamond RS cabinet, we’ve achieved that.
Knudson: Sports betting in the U.S. is rapidly growing, and some of the big states also currently have ballot issues, so sports betting is big, and it will be bigger. With IGT PlaySports, we power the Mississippi Choctaw, which we opened early in the whole process, and that has been very successful. IGT PlaySports is successful in multiple tribal locations in the State of Washington and also for the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin. Additionally, our stable and robust platform powers other skins for other tribes. IGT’s philosophy has been B2B, and we are powering other well-known sportsbook names throughout the industry. We also do back of house, which we have invested significantly in, and do book activities and management. It is all part of an overall ‘pick and choose’ menu that a customer can look at and say, ‘I’ll take this, I’ll take this, I’ll take this.’ Or, ‘I just want the platform.’ We can do it in any of those
Jacob H. Kalpakian, President & CEO
Jackpot Blitz is a revolutionary electronic table game. While it is a poker table, it’s really a smart table, just like a smartphone. There are many other games you can play, but our focus was to build the best poker product out there, and we keep adding more games and content to make it an even more superior product. The interesting thing about Jackpot Blitz is that while there are other ETGs, there are really no other poker ETGs. In games such as blackjack and roulette, you’re playing against the house. With this, it’s a social ETG where you are playing against other people and there’s a lot of social interaction.
The marketplace is really responding to our unique product. Due to the pandemic, we’ve seen a lot of poker rooms shut down, and in some cases, not open up at all again. Labor costs are extremely high and it’s hindering the entire brick-and-mortar poker business. Our product helps eliminate those issues and challenges, driving more traffic to the casino floor.
Nathan Drane, Global Product Management
Light & Wonder
We have a couple of new key launches at this year’s Indian Gaming Tradeshow & Convention. First of all, we have the new Kascada Dual Screen cabinet, which has just rolled out into the California market and is now available across North America. We’ve launched it with Double Money Link, which is one of our key proprietary brands based on the Money Link franchise and features a great hold and spin mechanic. And then we’ve taken that and we’ve done the double up. We now have two hold and spin mechanics on that game. So, double the fun, double the money. That’s out now and performing really well.
We also have Duo Fu Duo Cai (DFDC) Grand coming out, debuting here at the show with two games. That is one of our traditional proprietary brands at Light & Wonder. You might remember the original, now over 10 years old, which spawned the original 88 Fortunes. So DFDC is back, but it’s back with a new element – a persistent wild that combines with the pot. The original game had one persistent pot, but this game has two, so double the pots, double the action, and it concludes with two jackpot features triggered off those pots. The exciting thing about DFDC Grand and bringing it back is we wanted to modernize it. Not only does it have two pots and the persistent wilds, it also has a great hold and spin mechanic. We’ve never done that before on the Duo Fu Duo Cai franchise and players are really going to like that.
And then on the Kascada Dual Screen, we move to the for sale side, which we’ve launched with two, tent-pole games. 88 Fortunes Money Coins combines 88 Fortunes with cash on the coins for the first time ever, and also has a wheel on the top box. This looks like no other 88 Fortunes launched in the market before. And then we’re bringing back a staple brand, Gold Fish. This is not only a brand on the land-based side, it’s also a great brand for us in the social space. But this isn’t your traditional Gold Fish. We’re bringing it back with volatile mathematics and the triple persistent pot mechanics from Coin Combo and Rich Little Piggies, now available on the Gold Fish brand. Combining that means we have up to seven different features across Gold Fish on Gold Fish Feeding Time, now available on the Kascada Dual Screen. That’s just a small sample of some of the key products we are excited about at the show.
Rick Meitzler, President & CEO
This year we launched Thunder Cash Voodoo Magic based on our Voodoo Fortunes games, which have been a big hit. It’s new in the market, but is doing 2-3x house average, and we are really excited about that. We are also showing our newest cabinet in the back room, our Diamond series with a 55-inch screen, which will launch at G2E. We have a three-screen 32-inch version as well, and both feature our Mamba chairs. Coin Fishing is an exciting new game that will be out shortly. It has a new mechanic, and if you’re in a bonus, you can really get a significant win, which is nice.
One of our biggest focuses has always been working with the tribes. They’ve been great partners, and when we shake hands, it’s done. And that’s me. I’m kind of an old school guy, so you shake my hand and we’re going to get it done. We love working with the tribes because they are that type of clientele – always willing to work with us and try new products.
Tim Stuart, President & CEO
It’s been great to catch up with so many people we haven’t seen in a while – it’s so much about the relationships.
We’ve been showing our new Bingo Treasures game for the first time, which is just coming out of GLI, and people are very interested. It is a game sold on a mobile device, so it can be on the floor, in gas stations, and so on. It’s a link bingo mathematical game with a full bingo card and is a bit like a ‘you pick them.’ It has smaller winning prizes and then a giant jackpot once a week for $2 million. And we have a website where the player can go online and see the balls called. We partnered on this with a company in Malta called Parlay. We’ve done about 50 demos over the course of the show, and customers are already asking for draft contracts or additional web demos for their tribe.
Derik Mooberry, CEO
The opportunity to join Zitro has been amazing, and what brought me here was really the passion of our owner, Johnny Ortiz. He has a unique desire to build great games, and it’s reflective of our global market share. While we are relatively unknown in the U.S., we are growing and just getting into some markets here now. Globally, we are a big company with over a thousand employees and large offices in other parts of the world, including our R&D center with over 300 resources in Spain. We have a lot of products coming that U.S. customers will really enjoy. From what you see here on the floor with our new Glare series, it’s kind of unique for a small company to be launching multiple cabinets simultaneously. Most smaller companies might launch one, maybe two cabinets at a time – we’re launching four. In our Glare series we have the Fusion, Allure, Illusion, and Altius, which is our new premium game. Each one of these cabinets has its own unique set of game themes that go with it.
Zitro’s performance on a global level has been astounding. In many of the international markets, we are the leading supplier, and so we are able to go toe to toe with the biggest companies in the world. That’s what gave us the confidence to know that it was the right time to come into the U.S. market. Our products were performing at a level that we knew we could excel in. Today, we are operating in three markets – California, Oklahoma, and Florida – but we are growing rapidly and will be entering more markets throughout the rest of the year.
Probably the highest anticipated game is the Altius, our largest form factor. The graphics are simply stunning. That game in the international markets is performing at extremely high levels. The anticipation we are getting from the U.S. is amazing, and we’ve been getting pre-orders, even from customers wanting it in advance without seeing it live on a casino floor. That speaks to the anticipation level and what customers see in it and we are really excited by that.
The Allure cabinet, which features three 27-inch monitors, with a sign package, has been our bread and butter as we’ve launched here in the U.S. And that’s what’s really given us our start. The content in the cabinet has resonated well with the U.S. consumer.