Over the past several years, gaming system manufacturers have been racing to introduce technologies to provide gaming operators with a vastly improved method of communicating with EGM consumers through customizable windows that appear on the main game display. The Player User Interface (PUI) has the potential of revolutionizing how the gaming industry delivers customer service and player experiences by offering a real-time, bi-directional opportunity to communicate with the gaming consumer.

In the absence of a standardized approach, a bountiful variety of PUI technical infrastructures and platforms have been introduced to the market. From the perspective of a gaming operator, the business value related to a PUI implementation is derived from diverse competitive content, not technical infrastructure. In fact, the increasing variety of PUI technical frameworks is proving problematic for a number of reasons including:

• Failure to achieve optimal alignment with the common business needs of operators;

•  Higher systems configuration costs;

•  Higher implementation risk;

•  Reduced speed to market;

•  Fragmented product landscape (i.e. not all EGM manufactures may support your PUI investment);

•  Incompatibility of display capabilities;

•  Limited scalability to other customer touch points;

•  Uncertainty in regulatory acceptance; and

•  Overall constrained business growth potential.

Realizing that the issues outlined above were limiting potential revenue growth, the Gaming Standards Association (GSA) through its Operator Advisor Committee (OAC) decided to take action. Following an in-depth analysis of the situation, OAC members concluded that the best end-state that could be realized for all gaming industry stakeholders would be the identification and standardization of many of the infrastructure-related components, allowing for an increased level of competition in the area of PUI development.

The OAC prepared a series of use cases to help describe a large percentage of business requirements related to PUI applications. These cases were reviewed in detail by GSA technical committees to determine any gaps between existing GSA protocol messages and those that may be required to implement the PUI as envisioned.

GSA has also been working to identify a common set of PUI templates for the industry. These templates will describe:

•  How PUI windows are to be displayed on the EGM screen, including location, quantity, and dimensions;

•  How PUI windows interact with the EGM; and,

•  Timing and placement of the PUI windows on the EGM.

Templates are not intended to impact, dictate, or restrict content. Instead, they provide a consistent framework for content that everyone can work within. For operators, systems manufactures, and EGM manufacturers the adoption of common templates facilitates discussion of operator requirements with the vendors. This is anticipated to increase efficiency, effectiveness, and profit potential. Common templates will accomplish this by mitigating any need for re-working applications; ensuring that applications are correct upon delivery to operators; reducing the need for one-off custom environments; limiting the number of visual parameters that must be supported; and reducing the number of overall surprises.

Sometimes it is useful to step out of context and look across industries for ideas and confirmation of a path of action. Along this line, consideration of other technologies that have evolved through the course of recent history provides a sound “best practices” business case for standardization of the base platform. Standard formats including Video Home System (VHS), Compact Disk (CD), Digital Video Disk (DVD), and Blue-ray effectively demonstrate how the eventual domination and standardization of a framework results in content proliferation, higher content availability, and higher profitability. Evidence suggests that moving technology toward a standardized base format enables greater opportunities for significant content creation and increased profit potential.

GSA acknowledges that it may be difficult, in the short term, to agree on a single set of standardized and approved PUI templates; yet, the benefits of success are significant and well worth the effort.

Note: The PUI template is a common denominator that has been identified by GSA. It facilitates the discussion of operator requirements with vendor products offerings.  SlotManager

For more information on the Gaming Standards Association, visit www.gamingstandards.com.