It’s no secret that more and more people are looking to play casino-style games while on the go—usually via portable devices such as iPhones and iPads. This trend has not escaped the notice of slot game providers, many of whom are in the process of adapting successful land-based casino content to the mobile realm in addition to creating exclusive slot games and themes for online sites.
Suffice to say that the convenience to now play popular slot games virtually anytime and anywhere means online slot producers are continually evolving their wares to incorporate the latest themes and technology to keep their players engaged and coming back for more. These days it seems as though every time you blink a technology advancement takes place and is quickly adopted into the gaming world. Slot operators have been incorporating new features to online slots; subsequently, playing online slots no longer consists of mindlessly pressing a button and watching the reels spin as your virtual bank account either increases or fades slowly away. The new game advancements allow customers to feel like they have a little more control over their play. For example, some slot games now require participants to make choices during bonus rounds, while others incorporate more interactive mini-games within the slot to provoke greater player interaction.
Online slot graphics are also undergoing a rapid evolution with the goal of making the games more visually exciting to consumers. The graphics incorporated into online slots has come a long way in the last couple of years, and another jump forward is expected as game providers experiment with 3D, virtual reality and headsets. “We are trying to define the new state-of-the-art in terms of visual fidelity and technology behind our mobile products,” said David Lopez, chief executive officer at American Gaming Systems (AGS). “Our team is always testing the limits of what the powerful, but limited, smartphone can do and trying to balance that with the visual experience we want our users to fall in love with.”
According to Facebook, more than 450 million people play games or connect to games via Facebook on mobile devices and consoles each month. Although the number of players indulging in mobile play thru mediums such as Facebook, mobile apps or gaming sites continues to rise, the competition in this market has also grown significantly. “The online slot game market is still growing as indicated by the demand from global online casino operators throughout regulated online territories,” said Jason Lim, online gaming manager at Ainsworth Game Technology. “However, it is a very competitive market and the focus is attaining the right balance with innovative games that perform.”
AGS is also mindful of the impact growing demand is having and will have on the industry going forward. “It [demand] doesn’t show any signs of slowing down and, in fact, is growing month over month,” Lopez said. “The downside of that, arguably, is that it’s also hyper competitive. That means the cost of acquiring new players also continues to rise. New entrants into the space are going to have a very difficult time competing unless they have substantial budgets or superior content.”
This need for deep pockets is another factor that plays into the hands of established land-based slot machine providers—companies that have the backing and game development knowledge required to evolve and grow in the mobile casino games space. Below is rundown of some of the latest online slot advancements and news from traditional slot machine providers:
AGS is a leading developer of slot machines and table game products for the casino floor. Its roots are in the Class II Native American market, with recent expansion of its product lines to include top performing slot games for the Class III commercial marketplace.
With the acquisition of their interactive business in June of 2015, AGS has become one of the most diverse suppliers in the gaming industry. Although its social casino business is relatively small compared to its slot machine segment, “interactive is in growth mode and the market is growing much faster than land-based, which is fairly mature,” Lopez said.
To date, AGSi has incorporated seven AGS titles into its flagship social casino products, Lucky Play Casino and Vegas Fever, and they have immediately become their top-played games. Lopez said, “Number one by far is Royal Reels, followed closely by Colossal Diamonds,” he said, “then So Hot, followed by Monkey in the Bank. On Vegas Fever, we have integrated two of the newer AGS titles, Fire Wolf and Legend of the White Buffalo. Again, that content is performing significantly better than the non-RMG (real money gaming) games we have. We have a long roadmap of new slot games that will launch in Lucky Play Casino over the coming months, and we expect our players to embrace them equally as well as those we have already launched.”
For now, AGS has made it a priority to create mobile versions of their games that play exactly like their brick-and-mortar counterparts... new features may enhance the online game but only in a way that doesn’t deviate from the classic land-based slot game format. “One area we expect to enhance is cross-promotional opportunities for our land-based casino customers,” Lopez said. “The first thing we’re doing is including a ‘Now Playing’ feature so that our mobile audience knows where they can play these titles in an actual brick-and-mortar casino.”
On the technology front, AGS is moving forward with Unity as the development platform for all of their new applications starting with Vegas Fever. “Unity offers us the opportunity to more closely mirror the high fidelity art, sounds, and music of our land-based titles when we move them to mobile,” Lopez said. “It provides us with deep control over assets, giving us the ability to create pixel-perfect graphics using ultra HD textures and merge them with next-gen effects and image processing tools,” Lopez added.
As for growth, AGS is focusing on taking proven land-based slot games that have successful math models and leveraging them onto social. “These games immediately enhance our content portfolio—a good game is a good game, no matter what platform you play it on,” Lopez said.
AINSWORTH GAME TECHNOLOGY
Ainsworth Game Technology is a leading manufacturer and supplier of slot gaming products. Today, with an experienced team and leadership, Ainsworth is able to provide the global gaming market with a wide range of land-based, online and mobile slot content being licensed in real money gaming in the UK and Europe. Ainsworth also had its social casino slot products Players Paradise Slots and King Spin Slots available as social and mobile apps.
Company literate states that the interactive team has over 50 original game titles slated for development per year offering play for free as well as wager-based game content, focusing on delivering a cross-platform library of games for simultaneous release in their land based slot machines, online flash products, as well as on mobile and table devices.
“Ainsworth is rapidly growing, our social business and immediate priority is to focus on providing innovative and appealing slot games,” Lim said. "What sets us apart is that our games offer a payback and volatility that no other social casino offers and this is what made our land-based games so popular.”
International Game Technology Plc (IGT) enables players to experience their favorite games across all channels and regulated segments, from gaming machines and lotteries to interactive and social gaming. IGT recently announced that it now offers content from the legacy GTECH game portfolio on its social gaming app, DoubleDown Casino. “Launching our first legacy GTECH title on DoubleDown Casino establishes a significant milestone for the new IGT, showcasing our combined strengths from the two legacy organizations,” said Joe Sigrist, senior vice president and general manager for DoubleDown Interactive.
According to company literature, IGT’s online casino, DoubleDown Interactive, hosts the world’s largest online, non-gambling, casino and is one of the fastest growing casual game applications on the Web. With five unique game studios around the world, IGT brings its best land-based games to interactive, and builds new titles exclusively for online play, taking advantage of unique features that the interactive format makes available.
IGT also recently announced the introduction of one of the most popular slot themes of all time, Wheel of Fortune slots, to online real-money gaming. Online players in Ontario and New Jersey can now place wagers from their computers (and mobile devices in New Jersey) while playing the fan-favorite title, Wheel of Fortune Triple Extreme Spin. “Releasing Wheel of Fortune Triple Extreme Spin to the online real money gaming space is the ideal example of IGT’s commitment to cross-platform content creation and deployment,” said Matteo Monteverdi, senior vice president of global product marketing, interactive for IGT. “Delivering the most in-demand slot theme of all time to our Interactive customers and their players marks a significant milestone for online real money gaming.”
IGT presented an integrated portfolio of interactive solutions for its gaming and lottery customers at ICE Totally Gaming this past February at London’s ExCel Center, featuring more than 200 products that serve all regulated gaming segments and channels, including a dedicated interactive section where they demonstrated their new interactive game content, platforms, features, applications and technologies.
“ICE Totally Gaming provided the ideal opportunity for IGT to unveil the next generation of interactive gaming experiences and solutions across channels and devices,” Monteverdi said.
Konami Gaming recently joined in collaboration with online gaming developer Spin Games to offer popular Konami video slot games for online interactive distribution to social and for-wager gambling environments. Recognized for top game themes including Dragon’s Law, Solstice Celebration, and China Shores, Konami will now empower its customers with proven game content across a multitude of potential online channels by launching a best-of-breed remote gaming server (RGS) with Spin Games. Both land-based and online casino gambling entities will have the ability to provide Konami game content to all relevant mobile devices, desktop platforms and internet browsers, through use of industry-leading HTML5 technology, according to a company press release.
“Konami games are highly sought-after by both casino players and operators for the entertaining appeal of our proven game design and mathematics,” said Matt Reback, vice president, marketing for Konami. “We have a longstanding reputation for performance and our hope is that through this new RGS, we can begin to deliver our content to our customers in order to help them excel in the Internet gaming space.”
With widespread for-wager distribution and social gaming capabilities, Spin Games’ state-of-the-art RGS, The ROC, streamlines gaming content for a variety of online interactive markets. Its robust technology allows for rapid integration, giving gaming operators the flexibility and control to reach online customers with the greatest convenience and functionality.
“This is a big step forward in giving casino players the Konami games they enjoy on the platforms they frequent from home and across the globe,” said Reback.
Scientific Games Corporation’s comprehensive portfolio includes gaming machines, game content and systems; table games products and shufflers; instant and draw-based lottery games; server-based lottery and gaming systems; sports betting technology; player loyalty and rewards programs; and interactive content and services.
In 2015, Scientific Games enhanced its commercial relationship with Canada and the British Colombia Lottery Corporations (BCLC) with the launch of mobile real money gaming. In addition to their desktop games, BCLC’s PlayNow.com is available on mobile with games from SG Interactive’s Bally and Williams game development studios. Content includes player favorites like Cash Wizard, Montezuma, Cash Spin, Raging Rhino, Lady Robin Hood, Zeus and Zeus III with more titles to come.
SG Interactive, a division of Scientific Games, is supplying the featured online real money game content for the new innovative Macau themed tab on the William Hill website. The strategy is the first of its kind for Scientific Games and the tab is a progressive evolution in themed content, moving beyond more traditional themes such as Vegas-style games in order to engage a growing, niche player base. “We recognize that large partner relationships around our intellectual property are a big growth opportunity. SG Interactive is thrilled to be providing William Hill with proven content for the new Macau tab,” said Bob Hays, vice president, commercial, interactive for Scientific Games. “With titles that are built on a variety of game engines providing enhanced features, players can expect an exciting ride.”
Further, Scientific Games announced in a recent press release it will sublicense selected Hasbro brand rights to Gamesys, allowing Gamesys to launch MonopolyCasino.com. In addition, both parties have enhanced their commercial real money gaming supply relationship, and Scientific Games has licensed selected game patents to Gamesys. “The agreements with Gamesys are a tangible result of a combined force: the out-of-the-box thinking we pride ourselves on at Scientific Games, and Gamesys’ unwavering dedication to their mission of becoming the world’s most entertaining interactive gaming company,” said Jordan Levin, president, interactive for Scientific Games. “We are thrilled with the creative collaboration and look forward to the opportunities ahead for both companies.”
Developed by SG Interactive, Hot Shot Casino Slots was one of eight games, and one of two social casino games, chosen as part of Facebook’s 2015 Best Web Games. The annual list honors the games, developers and publishers that most impress Facebook developers and its players. “We are thrilled that Hot Shot Casino Slots was selected by Facebook as one of this year’s best web games,” said Barry Cottle, chief executive interactive for Scientific Games. sM&M