On paper, the television series Pawn Stars doesn’t really sound all that exciting-a reality show in which cameras catch the daily business transacted at the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas. But Pawn Stars quickly became the most popular program on the History Channel; its fans enraptured by the often offbeat products brought in by customers, the history behind these items and the negotiation/haggling as the sales price for the object is established. People also tune in to watch and experience the often funny interactions that take place at Gold & Silver Pawn Shop-the Harrison family-owned business run by Rick, his father Richard (Old Man), son Corey, and Corey’s best friend Austin Russel (Chumlee).
Today, millions of viewers in more than 150 countries enjoy Pawn Stars, which has been broadcast in 37 languages and rated as a top cable show in the United States, Europe and Latin America. Indeed, the show is so popular that the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop has become one of the top tourist destinations in Las Vegas.
This popularity has not been lost on Bally Technologies, which is rolling the dice with a new Pawn Stars-branded video slot game. Developed in conjunction with G2 Game Design, Bally’s Pawn Stars slot is a bonus-rich new game featured on the company’s ALPHA 2 Pro Series Wheel cabinet. The game was unveiled at last October’s Global Gaming Expo (G2E) conference and trade show in Las Vegas, and is scheduled to start selling in North America this month.
“We can’t wait to see the response to a game that captures the best of such a universally loved show, enhances it with the latest bonus features, and offers it to fans and newcomers alike,” said Jean Venneman, vice president of product management and licensing for Bally Technologies. “Pawn Stars’ global popularity is important, too, as we make this game available to our worldwide customer base.”
“We are excited to see two of the gaming industry’s top names, Bally and G2, create this game in our likeness,” added Rick Harrison, from Pawn Stars. “Because of the stellar job they’ve done on the Pawn Stars game, we are hoping to gain exposure with an entirely new audience, while staying connected with our current fans.”
According to company literature, customers playing Pawn Stars begin by choosing their favorite character from the four stars: Rick, the Old Man, Corey or Chumlee. They then enter the world of buying, selling, and negotiating, along the way encountering bonus opportunities that make them feel like they’re in the show. The highlighted Negotiation Bonus invites players to pick an item to buy or sell, then negotiate with the Pawn Stars for credit awards. Free Games, 11 wheel bonus prizes, wilds, pick ’em features and iDeck interaction make this game a rewarding new way to experience the popular TV series.
But will Pawn Stars succeed as a wagering game on a slot machine on floors already crowded with television show-themed games? Executives at Bally certainly think so, for reasons beyond the cable show’s growing popularity.
“Popularity helps… but at the same time, you have to make a great game,” said Mike Trask, corporate communications manager for Bally Technologies. “The heart of an episode of Pawn Stars is that there is this negotiation between one of the four main guys and a person who has an item they are trying to get as much money as possible for. That element of the show translates perfectly into a slot gaming experience; where you can have these different points in a game where a player is making a decision when negotiating with a star from the show.”
To better capture the spirit of the show’s negotiation process, the Pawn Star slot has the Negotiation Bonus; when hit, a custom video of one of the Pawn Stars appears, the player receives some historical information about the object and then dickers a sale or buy price with Rick, the Old Man, Corey or Chumlee through the slot machine. Once a price is agreed upon, it is awarded to the player as game credits.
“It’s much more than showing old clips from the television show,” Trask said. “It is a customized video of new material which gives you a feeling that you are actually on the show. I think that adds something to the player experience that is really unique and special to this kind of game. For example, you have a pretty funny Chumlee feature where he will award you a bonus with a humorous video-where he is dressed as an ancient Egyptian, a cowboy and even a leprechaun.”
“So we have that element of the show incorporated into the slot, but we try to do it the same way they do it on the show,” Trask added. “At its core, Pawn Stars is about the history of the items, the negotiation and maybe some comic relief from Chumlee and the others. That is the piece of the game that will hopefully give people a little laugh.”
The fact the Pawn Stars were willing to create customized video features for the slot shows how enthused they are by the project, and bodes well for Bally down the road when new material is needed to upgrade the more interactive aspects of the game.
“That is one of the other things that is really cool about the Pawn Stars slot… it is based on a still active show that takes place in Las Vegas,” Trask said. “These guys grew up there and really understand the gaming industry.” Trask said he expects the cast of Pawn Stars to be actively involved in promoting the Pawn Star slot, perhaps with personal appearances as the machine starts to crop up in casinos across the U.S.
The use of a Bally’s top-of-the-line ALPHA 2 Pro Series Wheel cabinet to house the Pawn Stars game should also help initially draw customers to the machine. According to Trask, the ALPHA 2 Pro Series Wheel cabinet is only used for the company’s premium titles, and allows for 11 different types of wheel bonuses in addition to free games, wilds, pick’ems and the other features associated with modern slot machine play.
“But the negotiation bonus is the thing we feel is the unique experience for the Pawn Stars slot,” Trask said. “The fact that millions of people watch Pawn Stars every week on TV… that is absolutely going to attract people and have them sit down and try the game. But what will make them return to the game and play is giving them an entertaining experience. We really feel that with this game, the negotiation bonus gives players something different and fun that is exciting and makes them look forward to playing and gives the game additional shelf life.”