A subway strike did not deter a record number of people from attending ICE 2014, where they viewed the latest land-based and online offerings from top gaming vendors
Not even an unannounced transit strike could halt the upward momentum of the ICE Totally Gaming trade show and exposition, which attracted a record number of gaming industry professionals to London’s ExCeL Centre Feb. 4-6, despite a 48-hour stoppage of the famed, and very convenient, London Underground.
“I would like to pay tribute to the many thousands of visitors who navigated their way across London using a combination of taxis, cars, buses and even boats to get to the river-fronted ExCeL Centre,” said Kate Chambers, portfolio director for Clarion Events, the show’s organizer. “This says a huge amount about their determination not to have gaming’s most important business week of the year ruined by a strike.”
All told, 23,891 people attended ICE 2014, an increase of 7 percent over 2013 figures, and the fifth year in a row of attendee growth. From an attendance perspective, ICE Totally Gaming has grown 28 percent since 2010.
One of the reasons for this spike in attendance has been steady improvement and growth of the event’s conference program, which comprised 40 hours of targeted learning and networking session, in addition to free seminars on topics such as Bitcoin and gaming in India.
Equally important to the event’s long-term growth has been its trade show, which attracted 503 exhibitors from 57 countries this year, 22 more companies than displayed wares in 2013. As usual for ICE, these vendors hailed from both the offline and online gaming sectors, and offered operators a plethora of slot-related products and services designed to improve both the terrestrial and eGaming enterprises. Here is a recap of some of the new slot devices and product news that came out of ICE 2014:
SLOTS & SYSTEMS
International Game Technology (IGT)was among the companies that introduced new slot products at ICE. Venture to Never Isle, housed on IGT’s CenterStage Duo, presents a timeless tale while offering players symbol-driven gaming entertainment with big win potential and captivating bonuses. Meanwhile, Jenga Tower of Moneyshowcases a familiar title inspired by the classic JENGA game of stacking and crashing sticks. Bonus rounds afford players the opportunity to pick the perfect piece of Jenga Tower of Money fun with the hopes the trademark tower does not topple over. Three scale-with-play jackpots make for a thrilling gaming experience for all player types.
IGT also displayed other recent product introductions, such asJames Cameron’s AVATAR Video Slots and James Cameron’s AVATAR Treasures of Pandora, both of which debuted at last year’s G2E show in Las Vegas. Housed on IGT’s CenterStage platform and IGT’s new CrystalCore cabinet respectively, both games were created in partnership with Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products and Lightstorm Entertainment and are defined by gripping cinematic graphics, captivating content and industry-first innovation, according to company press materials.
On the systems side, attendees were able to sample the latest iterations of popular favorite including sbX, a fully agnostic casino management solution; Casinolink, a tool for multi-site and route operators who want to reinforce branding across sites; IGT Cloud, a revolutionary casino management service solution that operators can utilize today; and Tournament Manager 3.0, which transforms the traditional single-player slot experience into spirited slot and video poker tournaments.
Bally Technologiesalso came to ICE to play, displaying dozens of recently introduced slot titles, including world-class licensed branded games TITANIC, The Magic of David Copperfield, Grease Pink Ladies and ZZ Top Live from Texas, along with an array of cutting-edge systems technologies. The company’s TITANIC slot delivers a fully interactive and cinematic experience centered on the iconic star-crossed lovers from James Cameron’s TITANIC, one of the highest-grossing films in history. Featuring scenes from the film and music from the blockbuster phenomenon, TITANIC integrates many of Bally’s proven play mechanics, two base game mystery features, and three progressive jackpots including two minor mystery jackpots and one large top award.
In addition to games, Bally displayed a new addition to its Pro Series cabinet family—the ALPHA 2 Pro Series Wave with the industry’s first concave LCD monitor at more than 100 centimeters. The company’s Take ‘n Playwas also showcased—a new product that enables players to take their game “on the go” by playing a physical slot machine on the convenience of a tablet.
Bally Technologies’ systems business was also well represented at ICE, where the Elite Bonusing Suite (EBS) and its family of products (Virtual Racing, Virtual Racing NASCAR and DMTournaments), were showcased. Another highlight on the systems side was Enterprise Progressive System, which enables casinos to manage and audit their progressives from one central location.
Aristocrat Technologiesalso brought a full slate of licensed slots to ICE, including two new standalone progressive jackpot games: Flashdanceand The Rolling Stones. According to company press materials, Paramount Pictures’ Flashdanceis an iconic brand that’s already making a huge splash on gaming floors across Europe, inspiring players to reach for their dreams across a five-level progressive jackpot. Meanwhile, players will get more than satisfaction in the upcoming game, The Rolling Stones, as they clamor to get their Sticky Fingers on legendary icons of the world’s greatest rock band. Boasting random tongue licks and sticky wilds, the game incorporates tour video footage and pumps out of some of their greatest tracks.
For its new Wonder Wheels line of slots, Aristocrat showcased The Batman Classic TV Series game, which engages players in all the kitsch, fun and tongue-in-cheek action of the landmark 1960s TV series, complete with original video clips, sounds and exciting game play featuring Batman and Robin, The Riddler, The Joker and Catwoman.
Aristocrat also displayed new game types and non-licensed product aimed at EMEA markets. Targeting entertainment-style play, E*Seriesgames harness high-end graphics, syncopated sounds and engrossing maths models to deliver enduring and intriguing game play. Sky Rideris the first family of E*Series games recently launched in Europe, with operators that hosted the pilot reporting impressive coin-in performance.
GTECH, with its gaming product brand, SPIELOconcentrated on systems offering at ICE, officially launching two new casino management system products at the show: JP2goand Rub4Riches, alongside its comprehensive portfolio of GALAXIScasino systems modules and its SYSTEM2gopackaged slot solution.
According to company press materials, JP2go is the first fully-installed, turnkey jackpot solution in a standalone package. JP2go offers targeted, revenue-building mystery, progressive and wide area jackpots to create excitement on the floor and increase machine play for an all-inclusive, per-machine price. A high-tech multimedia signage solution is included in the package to promote jackpots and share the excitement of big wins.
Meanwhile, Rub4Riches, the newest product in the GALAXIS BONUSING module, brings the thrill of scratch cards to slot machines and provides operators with a novel, interactive bonusing tool that instantly rewards players at the point of play. Once a player reaches a play threshold or meets other criteria predetermined by the casino, Rub4Riches displays a customized scratch card on the CRYSTAL.net touch-screen player interface. Players use the interface to rub areas on the screen for a chance to win promotional credits in real time, directly at the slot machine.
At ICE, Inspired Gaming Groupshowcased new slot games for its major video lottery terminal (VLT) markets, such as White Knight for the UK and Diamond Goddess for Italy, Colombia and Mexico. They also demonstrated their SBG VLT technology for private or government lottery operators, including its Core CDW—Centrally Determined Wins—system.
Zitroused ICE 2014 to showcase unique and differentiated product, the result of a non-stop R&D effort, which was widely accepted by the international video bingo market. The company displayed its next generation Blackwave platform, which incorporate a new video topper.
ICE 2014 also provided vendors with an opportunity to show their latest advancements in eGaming products and services. GTECHdisplayed a myriad of iGaming, iLottery and Play-for-Fun solutions across all channels for regulated gaming operations worldwide. The company emphasized its SPIELO library of games for mobile devices, which included the titles Treasures of the Pyramids, The Big Easy, Treasure Quest andBook of the Sphinx.
Also on display was GTECH’s Remote Game Server solution, which allows new and existing customers to integrate GTECH’s gaming content into their own or third-party system and portal via a simple one-time integration. This gives operators the ability to incorporate GTECH’s wager-based and play-for-fun games into their Internet and mobile offerings while having full control on gaming sessions and related data.
IGTalso bought a wide range of eGaming products to ICE. On the games front, the company showcased its library of licensed online slots, such as the recently released BATTLESHIP mobile game, along with cross-platform products like MONOPOLY Dream Life and TRANSFORMERS Battle for Cybertron. IGT also demonstrated its remote game server (rgs), which brings the very best premium content from the casino floor to online and mobile. According to company literature, a one-time integration enables instant access to over 100 of the world’s top-performing slot and table games.
IGT did not neglect its DoubleDown Casino social gaming franchise at ICE, showcasing authentic Las Vegas-style slot games for the site including Cleopatra, Wolf Run and MONOPOLY PLUS.
Bally Technologiesfocused on the solutions side of the eGaming business, showcasing its full suite of interactive solutions, including the integration of traditional land-based and iGaming systems for enhanced cross-platform bonusing, player tracking, and business intelligence; the Bally iGaming Platform for Internet and mobile casinos; and the Bally Mobile Platformfor concierge casino apps and mobile websites. The iGaming Platform enables casinos to choose from best-of-breed free-play and wager-based poker, table games, video slots, bingo, and sports-betting content from some of the most popular and proven content vendors in the industry.
A host of smaller gaming providers also introduced new or improved online gaming products at ICE 2014.
• Inspired Gamingdisplayed its BetBOX, its virtual sports bet management system. BetBOX allows any betting, gaming or lottery operator to add a schedule of 24/7 Inspired Virtual Sports and Numbers games to their venues.
• SB Tech,a provider of sports betting solutions, presented its new live betting platform to ICE attendees. The product features 12,000 monthly live betting events, a selection of unique and exciting bet types/markets designed to enhance users’ sports betting experience, a variety of new markets, particularly in soccer, tennis and U.S. sports, and an entire new platform designed specifically for the Asian market, with a customized user interface.
• High 5 Gamesunveiled Vault, its new remote game server that will come packaged with nearly 100 of H5G’s most successful slot games from all mediums, at ICE. Vault takes the classic content High 5 developed for slot machine manufacturers and exclusively offers it for real-money online play.
• Genesis Gaming,a key supplier of slot game content, used ICE to unveil its remote gaming server(RGS) for social casinos. RGS will help accelerate delivery of premium video slot games to social casinos. The system supports flash, html5 and native IOS/Android clients making the system extremely versatile, according to company literature.
• BETFUZElaunched what it claims to be the world’s first sports betting app designed specifically for the iPad. The free app provides users with a unique experience by offering crowd-sourced insights using the Sentimeter, along with the latest sporting news, statistics and personalized content.