On the games side, vendors appeared to be more realistic about the approvals process, showing games that would be available in the next 90 days or six months. On the content side, I saw more in the pipeline from a lot of vendors than in the past. Aristocrat brought more in than they had in the past two or three years. Ainsworth has picked some nice momentum with their new platform with their multi-level progressive jackpots as well as Konami. I think Bally kind of took the lead at the top tier of vendors. They now have a cabinet, a platform, technology such as iDeck and iView, now they are showing us that they are also going to concentrate on content in their core as well as in their premium product with some branding opportunities. Interblock is a good novelty provider that will help racetracks and others that don’t have live table games. IGT maintains its strengths. They have a platform and are focused on developing the best math as well as content. WMS continues to offer a solid library of new content in all its product lines as well as in their Wage-Net bonusing. A good surprise is AC Slots. They are differentiating themselves by cutting the bureaucracy and allowing content to flow from Internet-based applications. They’re tapping into talent from the house-garage so to speak and positioning themselves to give something very unique to the industry. Their distribution infrastructure is also a big plus that will help them launch their new video product.
I was extremely impressed with the variety and depth of products shown by all the manufacturers and vendors at G2E 2011. Even after attending the pre G2E product previews held by Aristocrat. Bally, Konami and WMS, I was pleased at how much more there was to see at G2E. I liked the new offerings of premium games and electronic table games from Aruze, especially the electronic blackjack game that offers the players the ability to back bet on other hands that are in play. I am looking forward to seeing the popularity and performance of the Michael Jackson and Grease slots as well as the numerous Curve titles that are being released by Bally. I liked the new Multimedia cabinet and the use of the “tunnel” bonusing feature first developed by Sigma many years ago. The new video and stepper cabinet from AC Slots looks promising. I liked the game mechanics, bonus features and the simplicity of the cabinet design. DigiDeal had some interesting variations of both traditional and electronic table games. The electronic, dealer assisted blackjack and roulette games from Shuffle Master were also appealing. Konami showed great growth in game content for their current Podium and Advantage cabinets along with the introduction of a new dual screen video slant top. Aristocrat continued its Verve and Veridian title development with games like the Phantom, Jaws, Zorro and Mission Impossible. I think games like Battleship, Pirates Battle, Aladdin and Alice will be big hits for WMS along with the Wizard of Oz and Monopoly brands. I was very pleased with the new offerings from IGT for the SAVP, AVP and MLD cabinets along with the premium brands like Big Game Hunter, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Ghost Busters. I think the IGT Universal slant top has great potential. Spielo and Ainswoth have a few new titles and features that may play well.
G2E 2011 was a wow of an experience, with innovative gaming products certain to provide true entertainment value for players. Given that operators will continue to compete for discretionary share of wallet from guests, vendors provided new game themes with less hardware expense thus allowing the operators to continue to engage player interest without breaking the bank.
AC Slots (ACS) new Axcess platform with four distinctive cabinets is supported by tremendous content, captivating graphics and bonus mechanisms. Multimedia Games TournEvent machines had attendees lined up to play, or rather “test” the latest in slot tournament technology. The system allows any bank of machines to be changed expeditiously between tournament mode and live game play thus minimizing loss of revenue. We continually look for opportunities to cross-promote both table games and slots; Bamboo Panda manufactured by Aruze will enable us to debut this exciting game to our Asian clientele with DEQ’s new Panda eight player side wager option for EZ Baccarat. SM