Aruze Gaming eyes a larger slice of the US casino equipment pie
Aruze Gaming America, based in Las Vegas, designs, develops and manufactures slot machines and gaming devices for the global casino market. With affiliates in Hong Kong, Australia, South Africa, Macau, Philippines and Japan, Aruze produces innovative gaming products, including high-resolution video and stepper slot machines, communal gaming products and multi-terminal devices.
Eric Persson, who was recently appointed general manager for Aruze Gaming, took some time the answer questions from Casino Journal Editor Paul Doocey regarding the company’s U.S. strategy, recent product introductions and what visitors may see from Aruze at Global Gaming Expo (G2E). What follows are some excerpts from his responses:
Please provide a quick background on Aruze Gaming America… what product lines does the company offer casinos? How has the company performed of late? What sets the company apart from other slot machine competitors?
Persson: At heart, Aruze Gaming is a Japanese company. What that means is that we pay a lot of attention to detail, quality and entertainment. For example, our Innovator was the first redevelopment of the traditional five-reel mechanical slot machine, and has since been copied by many of our competitors. This is the Japanese essence that we bring to the world market.
We are a company that has been rapidly expanding our development base. We are working on a few new cabinet types. We are getting back to our electronic table game [ETG] roots, with which we have been very successful. We have a one dealer physical craps table that we will be showcasing at G2E that we are very proud of. This craps table takes one-quarter the labor and still rolls dice. This new ETG will be a very big deal for the North American market.
What sets Aruze apart is that we start to think of the challenges that the casino operators are having and we figure out ways to solve them. The new craps table is one example. It is no secret to North American operators that labor has been getting more expensive each year, and what we are doing is allowing that real craps experience to come back to the players who have been priced out of the market. We have had a very positive reception from the casino operators and we are very excited to be showing this to everyone at G2E.
What are Aruze Gaming’s current plans for the U.S. market? How does the company plan on growing market share in North America?
Persson: We have two strategies here: To start, we are getting into more and more markets. We will be getting into Pennsylvania and probably 12 other jurisdictions in North America by the end of next year. That is obviously going to lead into a lot of growth for Aruze.
More importantly, we are really focusing on the areas of the market that we think we can have a lot of success with, and that is ETGs and premium games with wheels. We are happy to sell our premium games to casino operators—where a lot of our competitors only lease—and multi-level progressives, another market most manufacturers only lease but we are happy to sell. We see ourselves as a small and quick company. What we want to do is to identify our customers’ needs and solve those for them. We have a lot of a demand from our customers for games that they can purchase that have wheels and multi-level progressives on them, and Aruze is going to be selling them.
I understand Aruze Gaming is introducing 40 new titles at G2E 2017. What are some of the titles you think will resonate with G2E attendees?
Persson: This year at G2E, we’ll be expanding upon our product lines by incorporating features that set us apart from others in the industry. The most noticeable change in Aruze’s booth this year will be the expansion of our ETG and table games offerings.
In 2018, Aruze will be introducing Lucky Roulette, which will include a physical wheel, to the North American market. This unit will feature additional technology that will allow for expanded bonusing and proprietary bet options.
For our Cube-X Innovator product line, we will be incorporating sequential animation progressive capabilities on the Diamond Chance series. In addition, our Cube-X Innovator Deluxe will feature a vertical bonus wheel, which will provide a new twist to the cabinet.
Aruze will debut its Thor cabinet at G2E. Please describe this cabinet and what sets it apart from the competition.
Persson: The Thor cabinet is a new video cabinet that sits on a curved 55-inch high definition monitor with 21.5-inch LCD touchscreen panel. There will be multiple titles available on this cabinet, including skill-based games as well as electronic table games.
Aruze Gaming has partnered up with a studio that will create 40-50 percent of titles that will be distributed to North American operators. That’s ultimately a big deal to our customers; it creates confidence that the hardware and software will perform and the machine purchase is worthwhile. We will have a lot of game titles for Thor, and we are highly confident in the studio’s ability to create games that people want to play.
How has the recently introduced Cube-X Innovator Deluxe cabinet performed thus far? What makes it attractive to operators? How will Aruze Gaming keep this momentum going?
Persson: The Cube-X Innovator Deluxe was first shown at NIGA and it received a positive response and orders from operators. As with most products in this industry, the performance is the determining factor in driving growth. Fortunately, the Cube-X Innovator Deluxe has performed above our customer’s expectations in both commercial and tribal markets.
Aruze has always been known for its Radiant Reels, and the Cube-X Innovator Deluxe takes our core Innovator to the next level. Our development team did a great job of incorporating the digital wheel while still keeping the base game relevant.
As you may see at G2E, we will be offering several different game series that feature a twist on the base platform. In addition, we are branching out the Cube-X Innovator Deluxe in 2018 to include Active Play. Active Play bridges the gap between a standard slot and a skill-based game.
999.9 Gold Wheel has also been a very successful game concept for Aruze. What does the company have planned for this product at G2E?
Persson: The Cube-X Ultimate has been a staple for Aruze since its introduction. This year at G2E Aruze will expand upon the 999.9 Gold Wheel series by offering a video version. The Cube-X Ultimate Video will be introduced with two of our most successful titles—Ultra Stack Lion and Ultra Stack Dragon. Both titles will be offered on the same mechanical reel as the 999.9 Gold Wheel Ultimate Innovator. In addition, the video version will feature a new bet up feature. This feature will increase the volatility as the player bets up and unlocks additional progressives.