Casino operators continue to look for ways to provide enjoyable, personalized and customized experiences to their customers, not just on the gaming floor or within property amenities, but also through communications with players after they step foot off of the property.
And with each new generation comes a new strategy for creating unique and memorable slot gaming experiences that will keep customers coming back for more.
“It starts with casinos looking for promotions and devising campaigns that are going to generate revenue while also offering a very unique and compelling experience, especially relative to their competitors down the street,” said Murali Ganesan, vice president system sales for Scientific Games. “We think we are able to answer that question for our operators through three main avenues: Point-of-play, signage and progressives and back-end solutions such as our Business Intelligence and Praxis Analytics.”
“Interest in reaching this demographic [Millennials] has spurred two developments in particular that are each garnering a lot of attention: community-style games and skill-based games,” said Steve Walther, senior director, marketing and product management for Konami Gaming. “Many regulators have been tasked to examine these sectors; operators worldwide are exhibiting their interest; and manufacturers are exploring new solutions to make it a reality.”
So, what are some of the suppliers doing to keep up with generational trends for their products? Being 2017, we can assume that mobile technologies play a large roll in marketing to Millennials, but how are they incorporating these mobile technologies, and what other technologies are they using? Below you will find some of the latest products and technologies gaming suppliers have developed to help operators market their slots to the most sought after generation in gaming.
IGT entered the casino management systems segment more than three decades ago. “There was an opportunity to further propel our customers’ businesses by providing scalable systems solutions that they could leverage to enhance patron loyalty, optimize their casino floors, garner valuable business intelligence and fuel player excitement,” said Victor Duarte, global chief product officer, gaming for IGT.
Over the last several decades IGT has continued to diversify its systems portfolio by introducing new technologies such as server-based and system–agnostic solutions. “More recently, we have built upon our momentum in systems by deploying mobile solutions such as Cardless Connect, Mobile Host, Mobile Responder and Mobile Dashboard,” Duarte said. “Giving our customers access to real-time data and tracking against Key Performance Indicators (KPI) from a mobile platform provides them an added dimension of convenience and flexibility.”
IGT’s PlaySpot is a prime example of an innovative product that bridges the mobile experience with the brick-and-mortar environment. In fact, PlaySpot, a mobile software solution, was recently named “Casino Product of the Year” in a leading industry award program. “We believe products such as PlaySpot, Cardless Connect and Lucky’s Quest will help our customers engage a broader demographic of players and attract this demographic to casinos,” Duarte said.
Additionally, IGT continues to introduce new technologies and licensed brands to its land-based product portfolio that are also designed to attract a younger demographic of players. IGT’s introduction of SPHINX 4D, the expansion of skill-based gaming solutions and its new licensed themes such as The Goonies and The Voice are all recent examples of IGT’s leadership in developing and deploying new gaming experiences that can potentially draw the next-generation of players to casino floors.”
“Expanding the reach of IGT content and engaging a broader demographic of players are key drivers of our product strategy,” Duarte said. “As the leader in content creation and deployment, IGT develops a game once and deploys it through as many channels as possible.” For example, Wheel of Fortune slots are IGT’s most successful theme of all time and players can enjoy Wheel of Fortune games online, in casinos, in the social casino environment via DoubleDown Casino and even with lottery scratchers.
“The Millennial generation is comprised of digital natives who have grown up with technology at their disposal and expect brands to seamlessly extend themselves across platforms,” Duarte added. “IGT is committed to developing solutions that enable our customers to deliver that seamless experience. We’ll continue to leverage our R&D investment to ensure that we are shaping the future of gaming together with our customers and giving them the tools they need to be successful. From our PlaySpot and Cardless Connect mobile technologies to our deployment of content across land-based and interactive, we are well-positioned to continue as the leader in gaming innovation.”
As a company, Konami is actively exploring new creative possibilities and a number of their casino partners are ambitiously looking to deliver them to market. “With an incredible legacy in arcade and video game entertainment from our parent company in Japan, Konami has a depth of development resources to help pioneer future games product, and never has it been more evident,” Walther said. “This last year at G2E we debuted a number of concepts that attracted attention. In the skill-based category, we presented a music-infused rhythmic dexterity game called Beat Square, as well as a skill-based version of Frogger called Frogger: Get Hoppin’. And in terms of community-style multi-station machines, Konami showcased the all-new Fortune Cup horse racing game and a colorful multi-station machine in the spirit of Titan 360 called Crystal Cyclone—both of which generated crowds of people throughout the 2016 G2E event.”
Konami believes Millennial audiences have an established familiarity and competency for a variety of popular online game types that could be applied to for-wager environments. In effect, online/mobile games have cultivated a level of awareness and adoption across a mass consumer population spanning Millennials and beyond that can be leveraged to help advance the success of community gaming mechanics and skilled-based mechanics in a brick-and-mortar environment.
“Whether it’s online, mobile, console or on-site gaming, Millennials are most driven to the games that include smart elements of social interaction,” Walther said. “That’s what we’re aiming to cultivate with our next generation product. For example, Beat Square has a clear social connection by putting top players in the spotlight and allowing them to compete. Fortune Cup also carries an innate element of instant social gratification with each win as the horses cross the finish line and top awards tally up. People can celebrate together within that moment and be a part of something. It’s an experience that’s surprisingly universal, but especially appealing to Millennial audiences.”
On the systems side, SYNKROS Offers Management is Konomi’s latest enhancement tool that empowers operators to reach, incentivize and reward players uniquely to their demographic and spend. It allows Millennials and other players to select from multiple available bonus awards—such as comp vouchers, free play, drawing tickets, tournament entries and extra point prizes—and receive personalized notifications across a variety of touchpoints including kiosk machines, SMS, e-mail, direct mail and EGM displays. SYNKROS Offers Management allows operators the flexibility and control to maximize marketing promotions, with seamless, real-time tracking across their player base.
Scientific Games offers Bally Systems’ marketing solutions that include a number of player-centric gaming innovations to create value and build customer loyalty, drive coin-in, strengthen player engagement and provide added fun for casino guests.
Bally Systems’ marketing solutions tailor each communication, providing the best personal-player experience to Millennials and other customer demographics, according to the company’s website. This is accomplished by bonusing, promotions, sweepstakes and tournaments included in SG’s Elite Bonusing Suite and Bally Power Bonusing, and through casino branding and interactive device touch-points like iVIEW and iVIEW Display Manager (DM), Bally Promotional Kiosk and Mobile Apps,
“At Scientific Games, we have key emphasis both in the casino and at the point-of-play for our players,” Ganesan said. “Players want more excitement and in today’s world, as we all know, they want to be able to toggle between multiple events that they have on their radar. We believe that our iVIEW Display Manager with its picture-in-picture technology allows for more avenues to be accessible to the players and accomplish that very same toggling. So, whether it is watching live sporting events, or world events like politics, news, weather or even keeping touch with friends on social media to participating in incredible bonusing opportunities… all of this is possible during game play.”
The iVIEW allows players to stay connected to the outside world and continue playing their favorite slot machine without having to ever leave their game. This was a big concern several years ago, but now all of Scientific Games’ products connect with social media; and taking it one step further, offer bonusing solutions that allow players to post their winnings and share their casino experiences on social media if they choose to do so.
The iVIEW display is a full color, interactive touch-screen that commands attention with clear sound, dazzling sharpness and picture clarity. The iVIEW player-interface displays static slides and dynamic marketing animations and video with instant response through state-of-the-art touchscreen technology. The 6-inch x 2-inch LCD display mounts into any electronic gaming machine from every major supplier, according to their website. The iVIEW display provides a touch-screen or soft-key interface, which facilitates the player experience, customer service and employee functions. This product opens the slot world to a whole new opportunity to enhance the player’s experience, encouraging continuous play through the Elite Bonusing Suite and Bally Power Bonusing.
Taking their products one step further in 2017, Scientific Games is introducing their latest point-of-play upgrade, the iVIEW4 hardware. “iVIEW4 is our next generation of player interface technology and we feel this is truly a game changer,” said Ganesan. “It provides fantastic capabilities such as faster boot times, multi-touch technology and omni-channel content, to highlight a few. What is really exciting to me about this… we often hear about how operators are challenged in maintaining multiple disconnected systems. Operators have a kiosk, they have a mobile app, they have a website, they have signage, and to top it all off, they have the point-of-play at the game. Now with the iVIEW4 content management system, they can connect these disconnected systems in the same ecosystem, and that is because the content can now be distributed across all those channels beginning early this year. We believe that the iVIEW4 enhances the capabilities of our Elite Bonusing Suite. We truly think this great product and we are really excited about it.”
Another appealing application for the Millennials is cashless/cardless functionality, which is a reality now wherever patrons go. “It can be used in the same way as we would use it at the grocery store,” Ganesan said. “Let’s say we go to the grocery store and we forget our card, we are able to just key in our phone number. Players now can use the same method or mode to begin their gaming session without having a player card. We addressed security concerns on the backend by using the highest level of encryption in addition to safeguards to prevent fraudulent activity. This is now a reality up and running in U.S. casinos.”