Aruze’s player-centric approach to game creation includes unique products such as an insurance feature and reels that seem to pop off the screen

Kazuo Okada knows a thing or two about gaming machines. After all, he is the founder and chairman of Aruze Corp. and a partner in Wynn Resorts.

But beyond those impressive credentials, Okada started his career as an engineer and has always been geared toward creating the best machines with players’ maximum enjoyment in mind.

Okada invented and sold these extraordinary games in the United States during his period with Universal Distributing, the company that was the antecedent of Aruze.

In 1984, Universal became the first gaming machine maker to offer slots using computer-controlled algorithms rather than mechanical technology. He embellished fluctuations in win probability so that players wouldn’t leave their seats for long periods of time, and in turn, those players became fixed guests at the site, which helps the casino gain more earnings.

The excitement of the give-and-take concept keeps the players coming back for more. At the time, Las Vegas casino operators did not accept the idea that awarding more money to slot players was an advantage. Aside from machines, Universal had to sell its clients on a new strategy to help casino operations. Okada said he believes that when the Universal machines were originally set up, the seating occupancy percentage went up from 70 to 80 percent, effectively reviving the slot machine scene in the casino and illustrating the enjoyment and attraction of Universal machines among both the operators and the players.

Now, as Aruze, the company is reinventing slot machines with new strategies, such as Rescue Pay.

 “We will grow and expand our business together with the operators and the players,” Okada said.

Gambling is always dependent on the players’ fortune, the company noted. Players have to make choices - either they have to quit playing and leave the casino, or they play until their budget expires.

But what if your spending money could return as insurance?

Rescue Pay guarantees a payout for the players who don’t get lucky enough to hit a large win for a certain number of games. The players will want to insure a return on their investment and bet max coins to keep Rescue Pay activated. The countdown feature that shows how many games until Rescue Pay pays out will keep players going. The players, the company said, will feel more secure playing at casinos that have machines that carry the Rescue Pay function, which will also attract players back to the casino.

Okada believes the Rescue Pay option is the most effective of sales strategies to grab the fixed guest in the casino. The higher number of fixed guests at the casino, the more revenues the casino will see.

Aruze machines, Okada asserted, will attract the players, keep them playing, and therefore make more money for the casino operators.

“If you want to see the effects, you should install 20 of our machines in the casino,” he said. “Why 20 machines? With slot games, it can be very difficult to determine the payout percentage. The most important reason that we like to stick to 20 machines is that such an arrangement increases the chances that Rescue Pay will be paid out multiple times at the site of play during the course of a day, thereby best illustrating the return that games utilizing that system have to offer.”

An increasing number of casinos in the world have less than a 50 percent utilization rate. The number of investor-managed casinos has increased, and the casino managers are seeking short-term money control and how they can acquire the money from their games.

Moreover, the gaming market is more diverse. While the stepper reel machine was one of the most popular games 10 years ago, video reel games now are popular in the gaming market and produce even bigger payoffs. Players are now more likely to enjoy the screen animation and entertainment aspects.

Chairman Kazuo Okada  

What's next for Aruze?

“We have to build up the gaming machines that players love to sit down in front of and keep them there for a long time,” Okada said. “The game must capture the interest of players with its functions and features. Our technology is unique and special, and is not easily duplicated. We will be number one in the gaming market in the world. We do not follow the market trends; we will create market trends.”

Casino operators also must rethink how they approach the gaming experience offered to players, Okada indicated.

The casino operator has to think not only of taking and taking money from the players, but also of management concepts based on the idea of give and take. This means that operators need to discover new ways to offer players a greater chance to feel rewarded when gaming with slot machines inside casinos, which in turn will lead to a higher utilization rate of machines on the premises. For stable management, the casino should strive for 80 percent utilization rate. 

Drawing in those players and changing them to fixed guests are key to a more attractive gaming market, Okada indicated.

To help achieve this, Aruze this year will offer two new premier and exclusive cabinet platforms, G-WAVE and G-ENEX.

More about Aruze products

Magnificent 7’s

One of Aruze’s popular games is Magnificent 7’s, in which the 7s on the reels literally appear to pop out from the reels and onto the slot glass, creating exciting action for the players. Players will want to bet max credits to make their 7s worth more. This active three-reel, one-line hybrid slot game will have players captivated with Aruze’s high-definition 3D LCD screen.

Magnificent 7’s also incorporates the attractive Rescue Pay addition to more common bonus features. Rescue Pay is activated when the player bets one credit to turn on the feature. If there is no win greater than or equal to a predetermined amount played with max bet, then the Rescue Pay win amount will be credited to the meter. Players will be motivated to select games with Rescue Pay, which radically changes the game concept and promises to influence game mix on the casino floor.

The game is available on Aruze’s G-ENEX and Millenary Series Video gaming machines, with SAS 6.02, touch screen, and TITO. Configuration flexibility includes hoppers, printers, and bill validators.

Rescue Pay

Aruze designed Rescue Pay as an insurance policy for customers. When Rescue Pay is activated, the customer can still receive a payout if he or she has not won a specified amount after a designated number of games have been played.

Rescue Pay is activated when the customer presses the Rescue Pay icon on the screen of an Aruze game with the Rescue Pay option. A pop-up menu appears on the screen with a short description of how Rescue Pay works on that particular game. For instance, on Phoenix Seven, the screen will tell the customer that if he or she doesn’t  win greater than or equal to “any 7” in 400 games with max bet, then 200 credits will be paid as “Rescue Pay” if the player activated the Rescue Pay option.

The screen then asks if the player wishes to activate “Rescue On.”

If the customer pushes “Yes,” then the player starts to play with the Rescue Pay option. This will take a credit from the player one time only, until the player needs to activate Rescue Pay again. The player must play max bet to reduce the countdown timer that shows how many games are left until Rescue Pay will pay off if the player hasn’t won the predetermined amount.

Rescue Pay is deactivated only if, in the Phoenix Seven game for example, the player receives a win greater than or equal to “any 7” with max bet, or if the countdown timer has reached zero and the Rescue Pay has been awarded to the player.

Rescue Pay also serves as an insurance policy for the casino. As much as they like to play the slots, players are going to love knowing they are going to receive a payout, the company said. Players will sit at the game longer because of the excitement created with the Rescue Pay countdown. They will play against the game trying to win before Rescue Pay hits but still knowing they will get a payout in the end. Because of the comfort in playing Rescue Pay, players will feel safer in playing max bet and playing with higher denominations.