Year by year as electronic games become more interactive, they become more social as well. No longer does electronic gaming necessarily mean one player sitting at a slot or video poker machine, winning or losing alone.
Casino guests play together, win together, lose together and compete with each other on multiplayer electronic games that include both renditions of classic table favorite and community-style slot games.
“Electronic multiplayer games are fast becoming a part of the required product offering in casinos,” said Cindy Hovey, senior director, product management for SPIELO International, formerly Spielo and Atronic. “Outside of casino these types of games are entrenched in players´ everyday lives and therefore it makes sense that they would want to have a similar entertaining experience at a casino.
“Our player research has told us that the player segment that is interested in playing these types of games is also the largest opportunity segment when you look at growth in the casino market.”
John Chamberlain, IGT director of platform product management, added, “As gaming demographics change and the general public becomes more accepting of computers in their daily life, the desire for electronic gaming variations from the norm is increasing. In addition, the communal gaming experience, with large numbers of players cheering on a common outcome, makes these types of games even more exciting. As a result, the reach and acceptance of multi-player games will continue to change the look of the casino floor. It will be commonplace for an increasing percentage of a casino floor to be electronic table games or multi-player stations.”
At Global Gaming Expo 2011 at the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas, a number of manufacturers will be putting their spins on multiplayer electronic gaming. Here are some of the things to expect:
INTERNATIONAL GAME TECHNOLOGYAlways a leader in community-style slot machines, IGT also is carving out a strong niche in electronic table games. At G2E 2011, it will be showcasing AVP Roulette Evolution and Enchanted Blackjack, with a video wheel and video cards using RNGs.
On IGT’s Advanced Video Platform, Roulette Evolution features striking visuals and ease of play, view options where players can track hot and cold numbers, and a newly redesigned automated wheel with enhanced video graphics. Enchanted Blackjack, meanwhile, couples distinct visuals with traditional blackjack play in a user-friendly package that closely simulates a live table game. There’s a wide variety of customizable options.
“All of IGT’s Multi-Player Series (MPS) games offer the excitement of community gaming within the secured confines of an individual betting environment,” Chamberlain said. “As casino floor costs continue to rise, IGT’s MPS products-Roulette Evolution, Golden Baccarat, Triple Towers Greyhound Racing and Enchanted Blackjack-offer the solution. Each of these exciting multi-player games is providing operators the ability to allow for community and table game play, 24-hours a day, seven days a week at a very affordable price.”
WMS GAMINGMultiplayer electronic games have been a staple at WMS since it launched its Community Gaming line with Monopoly Big Event at G2E 2005. In the WMS multiplayer spotlight this time around are Battleship, Super Team, Clue, The Wizard of Oz Journey to Oz and The Price Is Right The Ultimate Show.
“Our new product line-up is our most diverse and potent gaming content ever,” said Candace Lucas, executive director, marketing operations at WMS. “The new products offer more than twice the unique math models and rich new mechanics. Many of our games offer real-time physics overhead bonus selection, competitive gaming via Metascreen technology, and Power Spins. Additionally, hero customization is part of Super Team, one of our multiplayer games debuting at G2E.”
“Hero customization” means that Super Team players create a customizable superhero who travels with them wherever they log in to play. Their hero joins 15 unique heroes through three bonus features including a Fortress Bonus that WMS calls its most unique bonus yet. In-game achievements unlock additional bonuses and hero customization opportunities in a game powered by CPU-NXT3 technology and Player’s Life web services.
Battleship includes a team play experience, with the red team and blue team exchanging cannon fire. Clue players choose a character and work toward solving the mystery in a casino version of the board game classic. The latest Wizard of Oz game, Journey to Oz, is a Collaborative Gaming experience where choices players make affect the bonuses of others. It’s also a wide-area progressive with a 1,024-ways-to-win base game. And The Price Is Right The Ultimate Show is designed to bring the feel, sights and sounds of being on a game show to the slots.
ARUZE GAMINGBoth electronic table games and community-style slots are set for display for Aruze, which had one of the hottest community-style slot games at G2E 2010 with Paradise Fishing. This time, one featured product will be Amazon Fishing, using the same Reel Feel Gaming Technology. A joystick is designed as the handle on a fishing rod, and you can feel the fish strike as they hit your line on the 60-inch LCD monitors overhead. Amazon Fishing takes the action to a new locale, with new fish, and a select-your-bait feature so players can attract the types of fish they want.
On the electronic table side, Aruze is bringing Lucky Big Wheel into a product line that includes Shoot to Win Craps, Dealer’s Angels Blackjack, and Lucky Sic Bo. Lucky Big Wheel is a take on the Big Six wheel. Players can spin the wheel themselves with a lever on each player console. It can be configured so that either the largest bet spins, or so that players spin in turn.
“With Lucky Big Wheel, players control the wheel’s spin by pulling on the lever, and the wheel’s spin speed adjusts to the player’s pull speed,” said Steve Walther, vice president of marketing for Aruze Gaming America. “If the player pulls quickly on the lever, the wheel will spin faster, if the player pulls slowly on the lever, the wheel spins slower but the outcome is always determined by a random number generator.”
MULTIMEDIA GAMESIn a sense, all Class II games are community-style, electronic multiplayer games in that in order to pay off, more than one guest must be playing. The games are linked electronic bingo machines, no matter what the interface.
“Class II games like Ice On Fire are the original community game products,” senior vice president of sales Mick Roemer said. “These Class II games require that you have several people playing for the ‘Bingo’ on every game. Ice On Fire is doing incredibly well on its initial releases in Oklahoma-even beating Class III games head to head, and we are very excited to roll this out across the county.”
Ice on Fire is a three-reel, one-line base game with a wild “Ice on Fire” symbol, a six-tier progressive and a top jackpot that starts at $12,000 at a $1 denomination.
Multimedia goes the playing together, multiplayer route with the TournEvent, its tournament system. It’ll be showcasing the latest version, TournEvent 4.0, at G2E. There’s a new Crazy Carnival theme with a “Jump to First” feature. The TournEvent Money Man floats up from the bottom of the screen, and when the player touches him, he or she vaults into first place. Features on the new TournEvent version include team tournament configurations, making it easy to launch couples tournaments or other customizable events.
SPIELO INTERNATIONALSingle-player versions of Deal or No Deal were a major part of Atronic’s offerings even before the game show hit American TV screens. The theme continues to be important for Spielo International in a multiplayer format with Deal or No Deal Join ’N Play. It’s “designed to encourage players interacting with each other,” Hovey said. “The community bonus plays just like the actual game show with players picking cases and deciding Deal, or No Deal for several rounds. There are choices to keep the players engaged throughout the entire game.”
Spielo International’s other game in the multiplayer electronic spotlight is the tournament system Tournamaster. “What’s great about Tournamaster is it allows a casino to switch between a revenue-producing base game to a customized tournament game with a click of a mouse,” Hovey said. “Standings are displayed on a leader board, so players and spectators can follow the action moment by moment.”
SHUFFLE MASTERThe leader in proprietary games for traditional tables has moved into electronic multiplayer gaming with its i-Table, shown in its blackjack configuration at G2E 2010. This time, the spotlight will turn to i-Table Roulette, with a traditional wheel and dealer, but electronic betting stations. Wager outcomes are automatically resolved after each spin, which Shuffle Master says can increase rounds per hour by up to 30 percent. The automated payouts eliminate errors and increase game security. There is no need for a chipper machine, and the i-Table can be used with a casino’s existing roulette wheel.
In addition to roulette and blackjack versions, Shuffle Master will be showcasing the i-Table for specialty games, including the proprietary games Three Card Poker and Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker. Just as in blackjack, a dealer and real cards are used, and dealt through an i-Deal card-reading shoe. That enables instant electronic communication of results for automated payouts.
The i-Table can be configured for bonusing and side bets, bringing the extra to the table that players gave learned to expect on slot floors.
DIGIDEAL CORPORATIONWith its versions of table game favorites, DigiDeal aims for flexibility. That includes hosted tables with either traditional or virtual cards, or either chips or electronic betting. It also includes automatic plug-and-play games for the slot environment.
In the traditional table category, DigiDeal said it will launch its L2V (Live to Virtual) edition of its DTS (Digital Table System) product line. With the six-position L2V e-table, operators can use traditional live cards or virtual cards. L2V can be configured for third-party, card scanning shoes or be quickly converted to all-virtual table play. For fully electronic play suitable for slot floors, there’s the DTS-X, a stand- alone, eight-position all virtual game, as well as the X-POD, Play-On-Demand Wagering Terminal.
In addition to classic casino games such as blackjack, DigiDeal will show new proprietary table games including Pik-it Poker, where players can choose to play three or five-card poker, Royal Roulette and Racing Card Derby.