International Game Technology PLC (IGT) came to G2E 2016 with serious intent… as evidenced by its booth, which dwarfed most other G2E exhibitors in terms of size, breadth of product offerings and entertainment programing for both visitors, including live concerts from recent The Voice winners. The space was justified, considering this was the first show in which IGT showcased merchandise and systems from all the gaming markets it serves—casinos, lotteries and online.
Dallas Orchard, senior vice president of global premium products for IGT was on hand to discuss the company’s latest advancements in slot games with Casino Journal Editor Paul Doocey. Below are some excerpts from this conversation:
I have just toured the IGT booth and the company is displaying quite a lot of premium products this year. Please explain IGT’s philosophy behind its premium offerings.
ORCHARD: It’s a part of the businesses that has been so historically significant to IGT. We have been market leaders in that mega jackpot space for a long time but, obviously, over the last few years, the space has gotten very competitive and there are other manufacturers out there doing some great things. So we quickly realized we need thorough commitment and rededication back to this product line.
Among IGT’s proprietary options at G2E is a revamped Fort Knox game that can take up a wall section at a casino. Please explain the product and where you see it fitting into gaming properties.
ORCHARD: As a former competitor of IGT, there were two brands I was always jealous of… one was Fort Knox and the other, of course, was Wheel of Fortune. So to get my hands on those parts of the portfolio is very exciting. As we spoke earlier, having those great proprietary games—particularly in the multilevel progressive segment—is so critical; it is such a big part of the market and it is something that IGT traditionally has been extremely good at. The original Fort Knox needs no introduction. Over the years, I think we probably didn’t maintain it in the positive manner that it needed to be done.
So we’ve gone back to the drawing board and brought the game forward on our new curved 43-inch cabinet. It’s coming out very similar to the original from a DNA standpoint, but we have made very subtle changes to give the players more ways to win. For example, we’ve added a fifth level jackpot, we’ve added a step-up inside of the bet structure and we’re going with a base-game strategy that really incorporates some great classics like Cleopatra and new math models like Diamond Vault.
Fort Knox will hit the market in April 2017 and I can’t wait to get it out there.
Milestone anniversaries are coming up for IGT staples including Megabucks and Wheel of Fortune. What is IGT doing to keep these brands fresh and interesting?
ORCHARD: We’re continuing to innovate. For Megabucks, it’s exciting for us to bring it forward to the S3000 spinning reel cabinet and library. The S3000 is proving a great box for our core business, so putting more premium games such as Megabucks on the S3000 is a no brainer. We’ve enhanced the signage, so when it’s on the floor the iconic Megabucks meter can be seen from all over the casino floor. And at this show, we have also introduced the Megabucks on our Crystal Jewel stepper. So it’s really across most of our mechanical reel boxes now.
Wheel of Fortune is still a really nice model. Our Chrystal Wheel stepper has been designed to take Wheel of Fortune into the future. We also have an innovation segment within the Wheel of Fortune line with our 3D cabinet and large format product called MEGATOWER.
On the showfloor, I also noticed IGT has a new, larger version of a stepper slot…
ORCHARD: Correct, we have the S3000XL and the MEGATOWER. We are going to bring Megabucks out on the S3000XL in June 2017, and Wheel of Fortune on the MEGATOWER with a 27-inch wheel and a 50-inch touchscreen will come out in conjunction with that. The quarter after that will bring out some of the great S3000 core “for sale” titles in on the S3000XL. It’s a really impressive library for S3000, and gives us so many different diverse ways of placing it in the market now, which is something our customers were looking for. We think we have an offer for everybody.
IGT continues to introduce a lot of licensed slot products. What new introductions excite you?
ORCHARD: On the Crystal Curve 43, we are launching our Betty White and Harley Davidson licenses. I’ll tell you, I’ve been so amazed…all the research and scoring we’ve done around the Betty White license has been off the charts, especially when considering likeability and recognition. We are excited to launch that cabinet with her and Harley Davidson.
On the CrystalCurve Ultra, which is a Q2 2017 launch for us, we’re bringing Ellen DeGeneres back. Another probably out there stealing the show for us right now is The Voice; based on America’s number one television show with Blake Shelton, Adam Levine and Ricki Martin and the gang. It has a custom red chair and surround sound and it’s just an extremely immersive experience, making the player feel like they are actually participating in The Voice. We can’t wait to get that one into the market.
IGT is also launching a 4D cabinet concept with its new SPHINX 4D game on the CrystalCurve TRUE 4D cabinet. What makes the game special?
ORCHARD: One of our key messages at IGT is innovation… we are not here to follow people, we are here to innovate. That speaks to both the cabinet and the actual technology inside the game. We consider our 4D concept as 3D on steroids. The fourth dimension is the addition of gesture; where the main screen can actually recognize your finger, change the environment and allow you to manipulate symbols. There are also air haptics that give players the sensation that they are actually grasping symbols; that they can physically touch them and move them around.
It’s just an amazing piece of technology and it has been an absolute smash hit here. We will bring that to market in Q4 2017. sM&M