What makes for a popular slot game? According to most casino slot floor managers, they recognize it when they see it. Here's some of what they will be seeing that this week's Southern Gaming Summit.

Cadillac Jack's Tiger Magic

What makes for a popular slot game? According to most casino slot floor managers, they recognize it when they see it. And they will have their eyes peeled in early May when they attend the Southern Gaming Summit in Biloxi, Miss.

What makes for a popular slot game? According to most casino slot floor managers, they recognize it when they see it. And they will have their eyes peeled in early May when they attend the Southern Gaming Summit in Biloxi, Miss.

But for game designers, things are not so cut-and-dried.

“There are so many factors that make a game popular. These include compelling, feature rich content, familiar game symbols, entertaining themes and graphics, and great math models,” explained Jared Torres, director of game development at Cadillac Jack.

At the Southern Gaming Summit, Cadillac Jack will showcase Pump It Up along with its already popular wide area progressive, Cadillac Cash. Pump It Up incorporates a unique low frequency, high payback frenzy spin bonus along with two other bonus opportunities which feature free spins and an interactive pick bonus. Also to be shown is Ghost Bear, a new video reel game developed with actor Adam Beach based on the Indian legend of the “ghostlike” spirit bear which is said to hold unique powers and represents peace and harmony.

Bally's Fireball

At Bally Technologies, the hot slots come in families.

“Our most popular slot machines have been spun into so many versions that they have become staples at many casinos,” said Dan Savage, Bally vice president of marketing.

Among video slots, Hot Shot Progressives reign very popular as the various versions play quickly with high action and the math allows for a lot of hits, said Savage.

In the original version, Hot Shots had a 79 percent hit frequency, which keeps players excited and enthralled. The latest Hot Shot variation is Fireball, which in the E32 cabinet will send the player into a bonus round on average once every 30 plays. Fireball will play a starring role at the Bally booth at this year’s Southern Gaming Summit.

Among stepper machines, Bally’s popularity champ is Blazing Sevens, which has been around nearly 30 years. Over the years, this mechanical reel game has sired dozens of variations, the latest being Lightning Sevens, which Savage described as “not for the feint of heart. This is the Jack Daniels of slots games with a 66 percent hit frequency, much play volatility, and a three-level progressive.”

Lightning Sevens also will be a prime exhibit at Southern Gaming Summit, as will Breeders Cup, a horserace-themed game targeted for racinos, and Cash Wheel, a multi-reel stepper game designed for fast play.

IGT's Wolf Run

IGT’s REELdepth slots will be front and center in the company’s booth.

The REELdepth family of slots is the latest hit for IGT. The reason, according to a company spokesman, is players are intrigued by the game’s technology, which includes “a one-of-a-kind 3-D-like Multi-Layer display that gives the reels a multi-dimensional look that stands out amid all the flat screens on slot floors.”

One of the popular REELdepth games is Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade, which is a five-reel, 40 pay-line game featuring a top-box bonus with a 20-stop wheel, and features 3-D images and vivid animated celebrations.

Also entering the hot slots category from IGT are MultiPlay video slots, the attraction being that these slots give players the option to play their favorite game up to four times simultaneously, with different outcomes on the same machine. Action aficionados can make multiple wagers in rapid succession, and some themes have four progressive jackpots that can be won all at once.

IGT will showcase these games among others such as Joker’s Wild Multi-Level Progressives, which plays on IGT’s REELdepth platform, and offers five winner-take-all progressives, 3-D Expanding Wilds, a scatter pays top award, and some wheel-based bonus rounds where the goal is to avoid the Devil. Initial games are Categories and Prizes, both five-reel 40 pay-line games with a 200-credit maximum bet ideal for penny and 2-cent denominations.

IGT also will be showing its Triple Towers Virtual Horse Race game, on which players wager on virtual races on a 23-inch player station, with the race run on a 57-inch LCD. Scavenger Hunt Multi-Level Progressive video slots for server-based environments allow players to interrupt play at will and resume later by inserting this ticket in any machine in that connected group, and begin play where they left off.

Aristocrat’s Millioni$er penny slot series has proven popular by its ramping up the mathematics so it offers players the opportunity to become instant millionaires. The latest in the series, Mega Millioni$er, is a multisite progressive that adds an extra layer of fun and excitement by adding a grand jackpot starting at $1 million in GLI jurisdictions. In Nevada, the grand jackpot starting point is $2 million.

But Aristocrat’s latest hot game is Jaws, which is based on the Oscar-winning film franchise. It incorporates images from the film; these include a shark-tooth-shaped bash button and gills covering the speakers, and that ominous music from the movie. But there is nothing ominous about the four -level progressive jackpots, 100x wild multiplier, and three bonus features with Hyperlink triggers that create a high bonus frequency.

Aristocrat also will showcase its new The Sopranos Video Double Standalone Progressive, based on the popular television show. The slot product features two exciting base games, free credits, multipliers and progressive jackpots that let players bring home the bling.

Super Big Game Show from AC Coin

At AC Coin and Slot Service, community games are what are hot, according to Aimee Shultz, marketing manager. And the hottest of the hot currently are the Big Roll Bonus games, such as Super Bankroll and Wild Native Spirit, which are six-station games with five-reel 20-line penny reel spinning sitting a bonus display that stands seven-feet tall. Wild Native Spirit includes 3-D images of the pre-cowboy West and a totem pole on which bonus events occur.

In almost as popular demand are the Slotto-based Super Big Game Show video slots. Key features of those slots are the great graphics and sound with animated characters resembling the emcee of a TV quiz show and his female assistant, the opportunity for big jackpots, but with a smaller footprint than comparable games.

Schultz credits the popularity of its community games to a couple of design factors. The game gives other players on the bank of games opportunities to play in a bonus event when one player hits it, but the player triggering the event gets to keep all his winnings with no sharing. The other players win lesser amounts on their own. That, noted Schultz, appeals to players who, studies show, like to have other people watch them win money.

AC Coin will showcase Wild Native Spirit at Southern Gaming Summit and take the wraps off its first game built into IGT’s G20 cabinet, Schultz said.

WMS’ Reel ‘Em In! Compete to Win!

Also hot is WMS’ Money to Burn Progressive, which the company said is the industry’s first with a multiplying progressive that players can, with a certain amount of luck, increase their progressives by up to four times.

WMS will debut at SGS Big Event Poker, a community game version of video poker that combines the firm’s best loved poker games with Big Event bonuses.

Also buzz worthy is WMS’ Reel ‘Em In! Compete to Win!, another community game that features what WMS called a winning combination of competitive events, bonus achievements, and leader boards designed to both excite and publicly recognize players. This game’s bonus game pays on two 52-inch HD monitors. Yet another new game will be Star Trek: Episodes 1-4, an adaptive game based on the popular television/movie franchise that features episodic game play that enables players to save their game state and return to pick up where they left off. And sometimes a unique and interesting character can spawn a whole series of popular slot games, as is the case with Jewelly at Atronic/Spielo.

Not just another pretty face, Jewelly is all face – a humanized jewel with a happy smile and bright eyes. But the developers at Atronic/Spielo have given her much personality. “Jewelly evolved from just a character into a bonusing environment where Jewelly herself took on the persona of different characters, and became an actress [playing pirate, royalty, dancer, etc.] within the features,” said Bethany Trainor, principal game designer at Spielo. “That allows the players to really let the individual bonuses take them on their gaming adventures.”

Hot slots also can be based on an intriguing visual style such as Arctic Spirit, said Brian Robertson, Atronic/Spielo game designer.

“We took a very unique and beautiful visual style – the look of a carved totem pole – and found it fit perfectly with the game’s functionality. The style is immediately recognizable and has a cross-cultural appeal. The images are clean, high-contrast, easy on the eyes, and are very memorable. The collection and stacking of symbols triggers bonus events and free spins,” Robertson said.

At Southern Gaming Summit, Atronic/Spielo will show some new versions of Jewelly, along with Power Wilds, which mixes the mystery of science and electrical sparks in triggering wilds in quick sequence.

Jackpot potential is yet another factor that makes for hot slots, according to Cadillac Jack’s Torres.

“Our initial game themes, Tiger Magic, Coyote Country, Cap’n Seamore Cash, and Wild Ninja, has been phenomenal,” Torres said. “Players are drawn to these games, not only because of the entertaining themes and graphics, but because our 50 Line games offer a unique pay style with frequent opportunities to hit the top award during the bonus rounds.

“What also makes these games extremely playable are the multiple vertical wilds, which increases the reward amount and makes the game more volatile,” Torres added. “Players gravitate toward familiar game symbols where they immediately recognize the symbol hierarchy. In general, many players are familiar with our Royal game symbols as we use the same symbol hierarchy as the royals in a deck of cards [Ace, King, Queen, Jack, Ten].”