As the world prepares to converge on Las Vegas for the fun and excitement that we call G2E, now is a good time to put our thoughts in order as to what we should expect from test labs at and after the big show. Let’s think about this in terms of the three distinct categories of people who will be at G2E: the manufacturers selling the products, the regulators who are responsible for the jurisdictions the products operate in, and the operators buying the products. Let’s start with the manufacturers.
There is a lot at stake at this show, given the current global economic environment. Pressure on manufacturers to sell and place product quickly and globally will be higher than ever, and the sense of urgency will be palpable in every booth. This can be seen as a good thing, however, because times such as these make all of us become more creative to build a “better mousetrap,” and we expect to see a wide range of cool and innovative products on display. It also can be seen as a good thing because operators also are trying to infuse their properties with new and fun reasons for customers to visit.
So what should manufacturers expect from their test lab to help them meet their goals? Testing capabilities, confidentiality, impartiality and access to a global marketplace – four elements that will be critical to success. First let’s discuss testing capabilities.
OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) must be able to rely on their lab to quickly and thoroughly test devices and systems reliably and accurately. And, as products become more and more technologically complex, OEMs should understand that larger and larger staff levels are required in the lab to meet the challenge with the perfect combination of speed and accuracy. Manufacturers should bluntly ask: Are you prepared to handle what I’m about to send your way?
Confidentiality and impartiality go hand-in-hand. Think of a football game. When one coach cues the referee that he will be calling a time out with two seconds left, the referee doesn’t run over to the other side and tell the plan. Why? Because the ref isn’t interested in the game’s outcome. He is there to call the game fairly for everyone, without prejudice. So in the lab environment, a manufacturer should use and rely on a test lab that keeps its secrets, and keeps its competitors’ secrets also. And OEMs should rely on test labs that treat every client fairly, regardless of size or scope of work.
Last, the marketplace is more global today than ever before. OEMs should ask their labs, “What are your capabilities to help me easily move my product into jurisdictions around the world?” such as transfers.
Next, let’s discuss what regulators should expect from their test lab. Regulators should regard the lab as the technology expert, and as devices and systems become more technologically complex, regulators should rely on the lab to help them navigate the new technological world with ease. What should that include?
First, regulators should expect a thorough review and analysis of the products on the tradeshow floor. What did the lab see on the floor? What new technologies are they already seeing in the lab? How is this different from what exists today, and how should I prepare? Regulators should not have to go to the lab and ask these questions; rather, the lab should go to the regulator and discuss together what they both saw and how the new products may impact jurisdictions.
Providing advice on regulatory considerations of new technology should be something that just comes naturally from the lab. Regulators own the standards and jurisdictional requirements, and the lab should not blink or pause when asked how new technology may affect those standards.
The lab should also have a means for the regulator to immediately access reports of what is in the lab and the current status of those submissions. This helps regulators prepare, and the last thing regulators want is the appearance of being disorganized or being caught unaware.
So what does all this mean for operators who are laying out the cash for the new games and systems? They have everything at stake. They need to know that the games and systems that are generating revenue for their property work properly and are reporting accurately. Therefore, it is critically important for them to know that their regulators and manufacturers are being served by a reliable test lab. No one wants the 3 a.m. phone call about a game malfunction, and knowing that games and systems have been properly tested will help operators rest easy.
Here’s to a fantastic G2E, and to the year that follows.