THE WORLD ACCORDING TO JOHN
by John Acres
May 1, 2011
Simpler, Cheaper, Powerfuler
OK, Powerfuler is
not actually a word, though it’s perfectly appropriate for the emerging
technology I‘m about to describe. Called ServerCentric, it promises to
revolutionize your casino.
SC lowers the purchase price of gambling machines by 40 percent or more, eliminates costly player tracking hardware, makes possible deeply personal player experiences and better connects your floor workers with player needs.
SC differs from Server-Based designs in important ways. Both technologies improve on traditional game architecture, and both store game content on a central computer server, allowing players to select from a variety of games. With SB, game content is downloaded from the server to individual gaming machines which then operate independently. With SC, game outcomes are determined within the server and simply displayed to the player afterward. The player experience on SB and SC games is identical, except for the length of time required to switch between games. I recently visited the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, which opened just three months ago with a top-of-the-line SB installation. Average switch time between games was 20 to 40 seconds. SC switches in about one-tenth that time.
SC uses low-cost, high-performance, consumer-type devices for displays on the casino floor. That’s possible because all the security and metering required for gaming machines is stored in the server. Your gaming machines become – and cost little more than – personal computers. They mount in cabinets identical to what’s on your floor now or in smaller, thinner enclosures that use less floor space. Communication between game displays and server is accomplished through either wired or wireless means, making portable gaming possible. Your players can even bring their own phones or tablets into the casino and wager through them.
Flow of wagering credits is simplified too. Traditional bill acceptors and ticket printers are fully compatible and connect directly to the server. When a $20 bill is inserted, the server detects it and sends a corresponding message to the player’s game display. That means you can change game displays or cabinets and reuse your existing bill acceptors and ticket printers. You can also simultaneously deploy cashless wagering. SC promises to revolutionize credit flow in the same way Ticket-In/Ticket-Out technology did 10 years ago when it replaced coins. In fact, SC promises not only greater convenience and flexibility but elimination of fees now associated with credit flow technologies. You are going to save a ton of money!
The benefits of using consumer electronic devices cannot be overestimated. Imagine it is 1980 when a personal computer cost $6,000, and a slot machine went for $1,600. Today a personal computer—that’s literally 1,000 times better than its 1980 predecessor—costs around $600, while slot machines now go for more than $16,000. Next year that personal computer will get better and cheaper, while that slot machine will increase in price. Which technology should your future rest upon?
The promise of personalization
The biggest promise of SC is personalization. There’s no need for expensive player tracking networks that gather information from each game because that information is born in the server, right next to where the game itself runs. We’ll use information about the player to change how the game itself behaves. Instead of bonuses being added to the game through a player tracking display or service window, bonuses become part of the game. Imagine game mechanics where volatility, loyalty awards and game play automatically adjust to player desires and circumstance. That’s revolutionary, and SC makes it possible!
Server-Centric technology is young. As far as I know, its first modern casino implementation was accomplished by Cantor Gaming at the Las Vegas Venetian in 2009. By the way, Cantor is a highly innovative company that’s quietly inspiring a technological revolution in casino gaming. We’re lucky to have them in our industry.
In late 2010, my company, Acres 4.0, deployed Server-Centric Class III games in California casinos. We used Apple’s iPad as the display device, and those early experiences have cemented my confidence in the technology, though it will be another 12-24 months before all the kinks are worked out and widespread deployment begins.
I’m 57 and have long been frustrated by the slow rate of technological advances in casinos. Times are different now and everyone—regulator, government and operator alike—understands that the casino industry must change if it is to survive, much less thrive. Because of this, I fully expect SC technology to be the dominant technology before I turn 65.
Perhaps by then, “powerfuler” will be a word in the dictionary. SlotManager
John Acres is the founder and chief executive officer of Acres 4.0. He may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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