Aristocrat Technologies is in the process of rolling out a new slot machine based on the popular cable television show Sons of Anarchy. The Sons of Anarchy Slot Game features Jax, Gemma, Clay and all of viewers’ favorite characters from FX’s highest-rated series, creatively weaving the show’s storyline into the game and attracting a wide demographic. The game will also feature a number of new mechanics and technologies including Cluster Power, No Limits and Big Symbols, all of which provide a totally new way for a customer to play and win.
Dallas Orchard, vice president of gaming operations for Aristocrat, recently took some time to speak with Slot Manager Editor Paul Doocey about the Sons of Anarchy Slot Game product and what sets it apart on the slot floor. Here are some excerpts from that conversation:
How did the Sons of Anarchy Slot Game come about? Why did Aristocrat choose the Sons of Anarchy television series to make into a game?
Orchard: It’s a good story actually, a combination of us choosing Sons of Anarchy and FOX and their producers wanting to partner with us. It all started at G2E 2013 when we displayed our The Walking Dead Slot Game product on our VERVE hd cabinet, which caused such a stir and had such appeal for many reasons. It looked beautiful and really stood out since we showcased at that G2E. It was also different—it was a unique title and we took a little bit of a risk with it by bringing something this different to the marketplace. During that tradeshow the FOX producers had stopped by—we had licensing meeting with many of the studios—and they mentioned to us that if someone was going to create a Sons of Anarchy-themed slot, they would like it done the way we did The Walking Dead Slot Game. That was a nice compliment from them and a very good compliment to the studio that designed it, which is Studio 54.
So we really thought about it and in the same vein as The Walking Dead Slot Game, and from that standpoint a Sons of Anarchy concept made a lot of sense. Studio 54 was passionate about it; they had studied the show and FOX had been a great partner in the past. We liked the idea, we thought we could turn it into a really good game, and Studio 54 loves these really unique challenges to bring this type of product into a slot machine/casino environment.
It appears Sons of Anarchy Slot Game developed quickly for Aristocrat—going from concept to reality in little over a year…
Orchard: Game development moves pretty quickly now with all the technology that is in place. It is also a testament to what great partners FOX were. Any time you develop a licensed product, it really revolves around getting that deal closed and then having assets released to the design talent. FOX was great in that regard…it is a great partnership that has moved relatively quickly. We look forward to this coming April when we roll the Sons of Anarchy Slot Game out into the marketplace.
How does Sons of Anarchy Slot Game actually play? How did you incorporate the show into the game?
Orchard: It is a 5x6 reel layout on our VERVE hd cabinet with a great overhead sign package which has elements from the show in it. It is a minimum bet of 60 credits, max bet of 300 credits. It is a four-level progressive with medium to high volatilities, giving the player a really good chance to win. There is also good chase in the game, which will hopefully impart longevity to the product itself.
The VERVE hd cabinet gives the game a portrait screen that allows us to use symbols and characters from the show. What Studio 54 has done is really bring the characters and cast from any license they work with and make them prevalent in the game. The game itself involves symbol hierarchies that revolve around the relationships of the characters and their roles within the show—the importance of that character within the show determines the player’s reward. This really allows the player to chase the bigger characters from the show and the relationships, love triangles and the sort of things that exist within the show. This also manifests itself in our No Limits bonus, where Big Symbols are used to create relationships between the main characters and the game reels and screens. We also use the portrait screen space to really grow those symbols and pay the players in very unique ways.
There are also free games like The Reaper, which is the motto of the gang in the show and the key symbol for the free game. A scatter of three or more Reapers takes the player into the No Limits jackpot feature and within that you have a chance to win any of four jackpots—the Mini, the Minor, the Major or the Grand.
The Sons of Anarchy Slot Game tells a story and brings the characters to life through various features in the game.
I saw the game at G2E and its Cluster Power play mechanic. How exactly does this concept work?
Orchard: Studio 54 was playing around with different ways to pay the player and was messing with Cluster Power throughout the game’s development. They shared it with us, and the more we looked at it, the more we wanted to bring it to the forefront of the game, brand it and put a patent on it… we really think there is something in this and the player will really like it and be drawn to it. Really, it’s a new and innovative way to pay the player in the base game. It involves winning combinations being formed by connecting the same symbol in clusters across all multiple reels. If the same symbol is landing and they are touching on adjoining wheels in any type of combination, the player will get paid for that. The other thing that I think is clever is that the payout will be determined by the importance of the symbol within the game itself—the main characters will draw a larger payout, so the player, as the reels and symbols go round, will be drawn in and cheering for certain combinations of symbols.
In addition, we are also playing Cluster Power on the Big Symbols, and when Big Symbols land in any adjoining reels and touch any of the other same symbols, the game will payout as well.
It is a new patent for Aristocrat and we think it is a really innovative way to pay the player and we’re really onto a winner.
What is the rollout for Sons of Anarchy Slot Game?
Orchard: Since it is a wide-area progressive game, we will focus on those jurisdictions that allow this type of device first. But this is a product that is available for almost all of our casino customers. The VERVE hd package gives us configuration flexibility and the ability to create small banks, large banks, exclusive sign packages, LCD toppers… we have a configuration for everybody.
We have a really good marketing promotion that will go with Sons of Anarchy Slot Game that will roll out in April with the game. We also have a pre-sell campaign in place where we will chose three casinos from around the country and send them custom-made Sons of Anarchy Harley-Davidsons motorcycles, just like the one we displayed at G2E.