Video Gaming Technologies (VGT) is a well-established player in the Class II slot machine space, with more than 20,000 of its terminals in more than 140 locations throughout the U.S.
In October 2014, VGT was acquired by Aristocrat Leisure Ltd., the parent company of Aristocrat Technologies—a premium supplier of ground-breaking technologies and services to the international gaming industry whose portfolio includes land-based games, casino management solutions and online gaming. Running as a division of Aristocrat, VGT is focused on continuing and increasing its success in the Class II tribal gaming operations market by partnering closely with customers and other key stakeholders. The company has also worked closely with Aristocrat to develop complimentary gaming products and technology for the benefit of both businesses.
Jay Sevigny, president of VGT, took some time during G2E to sit with Casino Journal Editor Paul Doocey and discuss the company’s recently introduced OVATION gaming platform, future Class II product plans and its initial foray into licensed content. What follows are some excerpts from this conversation:
How has G2E been going for you and VGT?
Sevigny: It has been going great. We are really excited with what we are showing… it really reflects a lot of the hard work that has been happening over the past few years since VGT was acquired by Aristocrat.
I have taken a tour of the VGT area of the Aristocrat booth and noticed the emphasis on your OVATION cabinet. Please describe that product line and how the industry is responding to it…
Sevigny: OVATION is our Class II video product on the award-winning HELIX cabinet from Aristocrat. When Aristocrat acquired VGT about three years ago, they said it was an acquisition where one plus one will equal three… and I think OVATION is an example of that. It is the physical evidence that when you take a first-in-class bingo-based gaming platform and you marry it with the power and development capabilities of Aristocrat, you create the OVATION game. We just started distributing OVATION in 2017 and have got about 1,700 of them on the ground right now. We have real aggressive plans to distribute them all around the U.S. They are doing very, very well in their first placements. We’re excited about its future.
Where do you plan on taking OVATION next? Do you have new content planned for the cabinet?
Sevigny: Well, we already have a lot of different titles. This year, we have 32 titles scheduled to come out. Our plan is to keep the games fresh and exciting. By mid-2018, we also plan on offering the ARC-style cabinets as well, and we have Buffalo coming out on that. We have a lot to look forward to.
So 32 new titles for OVATION… can you keep up this pace going forward?
Sevigny: We can. That is one of the great benefits in being part of the Aristocrat family. I humbly think we have the best game designers in the world… I think it is about nine separate studios now that participate in developing games for us. We got the Gimmie Games Studio out of Atlanta developing a lot of new products for us. So we have a lot of games coming, and the capacity to keep these games coming.
What are you doing to insure VGT maintains its reputation as a Class II games innovator?
Sevigny: Truthfully, the thing you can always count on when you play a VGT game is that you are going to get a great value. This remains our commitment when we develop any game… we create games for the players. What OVATION allows us to do is get into the low-denomination segment. So now we are in the penny segment and we are developing games with personalities outside the classic stepper games we have been doing. This is allowing us to expand and grow.
I understand that VGT is now doing its first licensed product, and it involved bull riding. How did that come about?
Sevigny: We met with Professional Bull Riders and talked about developing games around their theme. We know this is going to be a very popular license for the Oklahoma market, which is currently 95 percent of our total distribution. We will be offering this license game on our stepper legacy cabinet, and we have a great look for it. We are excited about it—it is our first licensed concept in a VGT game and we think it will be a really fun concept for Oklahoma casinos.
How would you describe the VGT partnership with Aristocrat now that a few years have passed?
Sevigny: I think it is one of the best stories to emerge out of all the acquisitions and mergers in the gaming equipment space. As soon as it happened, we got the technology for wide-area progressives, which has allowed us to expand our Super Hits Jackpot progressives across the U.S. We then worked with the Aristocrat side to come up with OVATION, and have a third cabinet coming out for next summer. Now that we are on the OVATION platform, we can go into any cabinet or game that Aristocrat offers, and Aristocrat has a mind-blowing library.