It has been quite a year for Ainsworth Game Technology, which capped a very successful Global Gaming Expo (G2E) show with the opening of its new $40 million North American headquarters in Las Vegas. The facility, amassing more than 291,000 square feet on 23.7 acres, is among the largest manufacturing spaces completed in Nevada in recent years, housing over 200 employees.
And these workers have had a very intense last six months, thanks to the launch of two new Ainsworth slot cabinets. The first, the A600, debuted last summer and has already found its way into a number of North American gaming properties. In December, the company officially unveiled the second, the A640, which features a 40-inch high-definition LCD game screen and an attractive design creating powerful game experiences with eye-catching game art. Mike Trask, director of marketing for Ainsworth, recently took some time with Casino Journal Editor Paul Doocey to discuss the A640, its development, what sets it apart from the competition and its content strategy going forward. Below are some excerpts from this conversation:
I understand Ainsworth has just introduced a new video slot cabinet, the A640. Please describe this slot cabinet and how it is different from the other Ainsworth cabinet options.
TRASK: The cabinet is going to come standard with a touchscreen LCD button deck, which is a big change for us. We previously introduced the LCD button deck on our A600 dual screen cabinet, so this is only the second time we have done it. The A640 still has the mechanical Bash button—players have told us multiple times that they love the tactile feel of hitting the Bash button so we left that in. The machine also has a 40-inch touchscreen, so it is an upright cabinet.
Another great thing about the A640 is that we feel we are launching it with some great content; a combination of some licensed content and new games with fresh math. You are also going to see a nice step up in terms of graphics from Ainsworth. We are very proud of the capabilities of the A640 and the ability to add nuanced touches like upgraded coin showers during wins thanks to increased animation capabilities of the cabinet.
It also looks very sharp and we have very high hopes for it.
Why was the A640 developed? What niche is Ainsworth looking to fill with this new cabinet?
TRASK: One of the biggest things is that we wanted the capability to do some better animation and artwork along with a sharper picture. Having additional touchscreen capabilities also opens up the door for some different styles of games for us. In terms of niche… it is for sale, but since there is some premium content on it, we are also offering it as a lease product, which will put it in some different types of markets for us.
But at its core, we believe in the Ainsworth math models and the great stuff we have done with successful games… the A640 gives us a way to present some of that style with a much fresher look. We are very proud of what we have done.
How is the A640 different from other competing slot cabinets currently out in the market?
TRASK: To start, I think it looks great. We debuted this cabinet at G2E this year… and it popped on the show floor. We got some great feedback from operators saying they thought it was one of the better looking cabinets shown at G2E. So I think the appearance of it and its ability to capture eyes on the casino floor is nice.
More importantly, the A640 gives us the ability to do two things. The first is to present some proven Ainsworth math models— our volatile games that are already out there and players recognize and love. We can now present that style of games with an updated look. Secondly, the A640 gives an opportunity for our brand new Las Vegas-based game development team to show their stuff—some of the first games they are developing will be showcased on this cabinet, which gives them the backdrop to use better artwork, greater sound and things of that nature. It gives them a format their work deserves.
We feel this combination is going to be pretty appealing.
What is the content/slot game plan for the A640? What games will the cabinet launch with?
TRASK: What we are most excited about is a series of games we call Sweet Zone Extreme. This is the Sweet Zone play mechanic that was introduced a few years back on the Rumble Rumble games, some of the most popular performers we have had, re-imagined by the new game development studio we have opened here in Las Vegas. We have brought some incredibly talented folks in, some very experience developers to create these games. The first two games under Sweet Zone Extreme are Rumble Rumble Thunder and Toro Treasures. Those games were at G2E and garnered a lot of attention. Those are two highlight games we will be marketing quite heavily.
On the license side, we have a couple of King Kong games coming down the pike. The first one was just released and is available to customers right now. We also have a Three Amigos game available to customers. In the pipeline we have a Magnificent Seven game and, going into this summer, the A640 will be the cabinet we use for our first Pac-Man iteration.
What is the North American rollout plan for the A640?
TRASK: Our first games are for sale right now. We just released the cabinet with the first bunch of games within the last couple of weeks. As I mentioned, the first games are King Kong and Three Amigos; there are also a pair of games with new math called The Fortune Series—Fortune Rabbit and Fortune Rhino. Two other additional games with new math are called Ice Money and Fire Money. Those are the first six games that are out now; within the next six months we hope to have 16 or more titles available for this cabinet.
We feel strong about the first six games, especially since two involve licensed content. Going forward, our studios in Las Vegas and Australia will provide content with some different looks and mechanics to support the cabinet.
How did operators respond to the new cabinet thus far?
TRASK: The feedback from operators has been tremendous. The first one went out in late December 2016… and they will soon be popping up in various locations, following on the success of our A600 cabinet we launched earlier this year. Those cabinets and games are already out in the field and are performing quite well.
It is the continuation of an amazing G2E where we had great customer engagement. It is a great time to be in our shoes; we have had a lot of exciting things happen in 2016 and hope to push that momentum into 2017.
Mike Trask is director of marketing for Las Vegas-based Ainsworth Game Technology. He can be reached at www.agtslots.com.