Always seeking ways to attract more customers to their slots floors, casino operators have found a huge winner in the lure of larger winnings. And progressive slot machines are increasingly providing that lure.
“Progressive slots are claiming more territory on casino slots floors because people like the idea of winning big jackpots that they can watch grow steadily during play,” said Joe Sigrist, vice president of game development and product management at International game Technology (IGT). “And they are especially fond of slots games where the jackpot builds up over multiple machines across a property or multiple locations.
“Players are also increasingly looking for challenges. So the industry is responding by adding extra betting options, more bonus levels and even the ability to play several games at once on a single machine,” Sigrist added. “But above all, none of this matters unless the game is entertaining. The majority of players see playing slots as a form of entertainment rather than as straight gambling.”
When it comes to entertainment value, many manufacturers continue to build slots around popular entertainment franchises.
NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN
Joining this trend, Ainsworth Game Technology has released its first licensed title built around the classic MGM movie The Magnificent Seven. This four-level symbol-driven progressive game in the A560 WideBoy cabinet uses Ainsworth’s Wheel Winner math model to provide a high spin frequency. Symbols depict the film’s title characters, with five of a kind triggering wins, bonuses and eventually a chance to go onto the prize wheel to win the progressive jackpot.
Other new Ainsworth progressive slots include Treasure Storm, which features meticulous graphics fashioned around feng shui, an extremely high progressive hit frequency making up a more than one-third return to players, and the ability to win progressive jackpots at five different levels. Reels to Wheels using Ainsworth’s Quad Shot math model also offers a high progressive hit frequency, a five-wheel free game bonus that plays out on the 32-inch top screen, which John Glaser, Ainsworth North American sales manager described as engaging to players.
GREASING THE SKIDS
For its latest wide-area progressive (WAP), Bally Technologies opted to reinvigorate an existing franchise with Grease Pink Ladies, which has a different look and focus from earlier Grease video slots. The game offers three bonus experiences, random wilds, multipliers, a top jackpot award that resets at $400,000, and more of the film’s popular music, said Paula Rodgers, director of game development at Bally.
Housed in Bally’s 22/42 cabinet with a 22-inch main-game monitor, the game is topped by a 42-inch vertical top-box monitor framed with a striking pink façade; all the better to notice the game across the slot floor, Rodgers explained. Centered on the Pink Ladies characters in Grease(Rizzo, Franchy, Marty and Jan), the game ties all bonuses into one of the movie’s many popular songs. These include Pink Rules, Hand Jive Kisses, and Frenchy’s Heartbreaker bonuses, complete with clips and music from the 1978 film. A bonus feature occurs every 11 spins to maintain player interest. Several bonuses occur as mystery events triggered by Grease Wild symbols during the primary game. Others are triggered by Grease Bonus symbols appearing on the middle reels, which cause a five-by-six matrix of symbols to appear on the top screen. Free spins are played out on the big reel set as the song blares through the sound system, with wins registered on 50 paylines.
Topping off all bonus events is the multi-site progressive jackpot that starts at $400,000, but players need to bet the maximum $3 per spin to qualify for this grand prize. Still, not bad for a penny game, Rodgers said.
Players have been climbing Bally’s Millionaire Sevens ladder to big wins for years. Now they can experience a new Millionaire Sevens on Bally’s Cash Connection wide-area progressive link. Delivered on the popular ALPHA Pro V22/22 Hammerhead cabinet, this new version (five reels, 30 lines, 300 credits maximum bet) has the classic ladder bonus and a free-games feature that gives players their choice of theme. When the free-games feature is triggered, players choose from one of three free-game options including a Multiplier Wheel, Extra Wild Wheel, and Extra Scatter Wheel. Once the choice is made, the corresponding wheel spins and awards the multiplier, extra wild symbol, or extra scatter pay symbol. This feature works in conjunction with the classic Ladder Bonus with nine levels of multipliers including the massive progressive jackpot.
Also coming from Bally this spring is James Cameron’s Titanic, based on and including clips from the high-grossing movie. It integrates two base-game mystery features and three progressive jackpots, including two minor mystery jackpots and one large top award. The main attraction U-Spin bonus wheel, resembling a ship’s helm, awards credits as well as one guaranteed Free Games feature—Heart of the Ocean, Make It Count and the Safe Bonus.
Also new is The Magic of David Copperfield video slot, which features mystery bonuses and a progressive jackpot award. Magical bonuses are unleashed through the “Death Saw,” which awards credits, the progressive jackpot, Flying Free Games or Levitation Free Games showing incredible video of illusions from master illusionist Copperfield’s legendary performances.
Another new Bally game is the Roaring Twenties-themed Jackpot Empire, which has both wide-area and near-area progressive options, a six-level Quick Hit-style progressive and four free-game bonuses featuring some of Bally’s most popular play mechanics. Locking Wilds, Wild Sweep, Rising Times, and Random Wild Reels bring serious fun to this swanky title.
As its latest entry in the big jackpot progressives market, Aristocrat Technologies has unleashed The Walking Dead slots game, based on the popular AMC TV series. Featuring a Grand Jackpot that reboots at $500,000, the game combines intricate gaming math with numerous clips from the series and an abundance of bonus opportunities all calculated to mesmerize players.
Housed in the VERVEhd cabinet with the surround-sound iChair, the game offers bonus features that include “Reel Growth,” where reels two, three, four and five will randomly expand to 5, 6 or 7-inches in height; “Wild Attack,” where random positions in Reel Growth are replaced with wilds; “The Horde,” where the horde reveals a winning combination on the reels in Reel Growth. In “Atlanta Wheel Bonus,” players win credits, jackpots, CDC Wheel or Escape from Atlanta Free Games. In “CDC Wheel,” players win credits, multiple prizes with the Grenade or trigger Walker Bonus spins with a multiplier. Players win free games in “Escape from Atlanta Free Games.”
The Walking Dead has a 75-credit minimum bet, and a 300-credit max bet.
The latest progressive slots at IGT have the ability to evolve, thus lengthening the time a game remains in a casino.
“On average, play on a slots game drops off after nine months,” Sigrist said. “IGT developed the concept of Enhanced Content, so when play begins to lag casinos can unlock additional programs that add capabilities and features to the existing games that in some cases alters the original so much that it becomes, in effect, a new game.”
The first such Enhanced Content game from IGT was Back to the Future, which was released last summer, so the first game-altering program was being unlocked this spring.
The latest Enhanced Content video slots game is Sex and the City Platinum, a low-denomination game incorporating iconic imagery from the popular TV series that enables players to reconnect with their favorite characters. Three or more scattered Sex and the City symbols trigger the thematic bonus, as players spin the virtual wheel to find out what bonus they will play. In addition to exciting bonus content, there are also five progressive events available to delight players during game play. Players search for matching symbols as they make their way through Carrie’s Shopulance bonus, collecting credits as each symbol finds its match. In the Dream Big and Carrie On bonus, players select between a variety of sparkly rings to reveal credit values, with character symbols showing up to extend bonus game play. In the Around Town bonus, players uncover credit awards and multipliers in hopes of advancing through different levels.
Platinum Free Spins provide chances to win additional spins or a bonus game, while the Progressive Pick Feature gives players the chance to win progressive jackpots. The Sex and the City Platinum Video Slot is available on the G23 Upright with 32-inch LCD for immersive game play.
Later this year, IGT will add another Enhanced Content game based on the HBO series True Blood.
Bucking the trend toward progressive slots built around popular media properties, Cadillac Jack is bringing to market Class III devices built around its popular themes, said Eric Boese, chief game designer.
Win With Diamonds in the Stratos cabinet is a symbol-based game that enables players to win an area-wide progressive from a video wheel. Hit the right symbols and players go to the wheel where they can win five different prizes, one of which is the progressive. A successor to the company’s Win With Sevens slots, this game offers a minimum $50,000 progressive jackpot.
Goddess Treasures is similar in play but will feature a 3D Bonus System where players can win any of four Goddess progressives or the area-wide jackpot.
Dragon’s Lairis actually based on a 1980s video game that offers stunning graphics designed for Cadillac Jack by former Disney animators, Boese said. The game sets up a quest to save Princess Daphne from the Dragon, during which players face seven challenges that can earn them bonuses, free spins and ultimately a chance at the progressive bonus.
Cadillac Jack is also bringing to market a system that can convert any of its Class III games into progressive game complete with bonus wheels, Boese added.
ENTER THE DRAGON
Carrying on in its tradition of producing intriguing (and popular) mystery progressive slots, Konami Gaming has introduced Dragon’s Victory, a linked progressive where players pick pearls during the bonus event to determine their progressive award. As each pearl is selected, a golden dragon breathes fire and pearl explodes into a treasured medallion. Match three colored medallions and the corresponding jackpot level is won.
“The fully rendered high-resolution 3D animations provide a strong attraction for the game and fully engage the player as the suspense behind each selection leads them closer to their award,” said Annabelle Lee, marketing manager at Konami.
Driven by Konami’s KP3 platform, Dragon’s Victory offers three distinct return percentage options configurable to meet the flexible needs of the property. While the game is designed to operate within a single venue, they can be networked among multiple banks with the right network topology, Lee explained.
WHALE OF A GAME
In a novel twist, Multimedia Games has created a progressive video slot around a book. Moby Dick, loosely based on the classic Herman Melville tale, is a five-reel 50-line game housed in Multimedia’s HighRise cabinet that strews stack symbols and mystery wilds throughout play. When three Bonus symbols appear on specific reels, players can win payouts of up to 160 times their bet. Spin Bonuses also enable players to win up to 10 free spins. As the game tempo builds, players go into the Typhoon mode where White Whale Wilds can win even more free spins; up to 110 total. And when betting the maximum 200 credits on this penny game, players can qualify to play for the Doubloon Jackpots that progressively build on each of the five levels of play noted on screens above the reels.
Two other progressive slots being brought to market by Multimedia are Orient Express Crystal Jackpot (five-reels and 50-lines in the HighRise cabinet) and Carnival in Rio 2 (five-reels and100-lines). On Orient Express, players collect Travel Stamps (which can be increased in number by wilds and increased in value with the Bump It Up feature) and Gems leading up to the Crystal Jackpot. On Carnival in Rio 2, players are offered volatility options as they collect assorted bonuses, including a Super-Charged Free Spin Bonus, while working up to the Must-Hit Jackpot. This machine also has a Tournament Mode.
Ortiz Gaming’s newest and most innovative progressive slot games are Triple Bonus and Ace Mania.
Triple Bonus is a Latin bingo game with a 3x5 bingo card instead of the typical 5x5 card that provides more chances to win. The game’s Triple Bonus is comprised of four bingo cards with 15 numbers each, players may choose to play from one card or all four. The game starts with 30 balls drawn from a virtual globe. After the 30 bingo balls have been drawn, players will have the chance at an Extra Bonus draw of up to 10 additional balls. Each time an Extra Bonus ball is drawn, the number will be marked on the activated cards and it will offer the chance to win additional prizes. In addition to the Extra Bonus Balls, a Bonus Game is triggered by making a square pattern on any of the activated cards. In the Bonus Game, the player spins the wheels to earn additional credits. In total, Triple Bonus has 11 prizes to win, plus the jackpot.
Ace Mania is another Latin bingo game with similar play to Triple Bonus, but leads up to The Joker, which when it appears, allows players to choose the next number to be drawn from the 10 Extra Bonus Balls. Ace Mania has 11 prizes to win, plus the jackpot.
Ortiz Gaming jackpots on all its titles are community bonuses, sharing winnings between all players with the Magic Pot bonus. When a player wins a jackpot, every player on the same bank of games wins a percentage of the jackpot. Meanwhile, the big winner gets the full jackpot amount.
“Suddenly the players are encouraging each other to bet more to increase the jackpot amounts to be shared,” said Maurilio Silva, president at Ortiz Gaming. “This brings true community excitement and participation while increasing time-in-chair.”
Jackpot winners also get their own equivalent of a ticker-tape welcome as they are showered with multicolored paper through Ortiz’s Sky Paper feature, thus ramping up the excitement and fun for everyone playing, Silva added.
Ortiz’s Progressive Jackpot is flexible and can be housed on a single machine, a bank of machines or game banks linked together throughout in a single property.