Trade ON: NIGA trade show floor review
In the first of a two-part series, the editors of Casino Journal review the slot products that stood out from the crowd on the NIGA tradeshow floor
In many ways, this year’s version of the annual NIGA Indian Gaming Tradeshow & Convention, which took place in April at the Las Vegas Convention Center, will likely be remembered as one of the best ever held.
Indeed, in addition to being in Las Vegas for the first time, NIGA 2018 also featured an astounding 70 hours of education sessions, certifications and training. The special event and networking opportunities were also supersized this year, highlighted by the Chairman’s Welcome Reception, the Chairman’s Luncheon and three golf tournaments.
Also shining especially bright was NIGA 2018’s tradeshow floor, which was the largest to date and featured 350 exhibitors, including 40 companies that were new to the event, according to press materials.
“We are so thrilled to be able to showcase the innovation and unique products of so many of the great suppliers for our industry at this year’s tradeshow,” said NIGA Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr., in a prepared statement released before the show. “Each year we strive to provide an immersive experience for our members and the gaming community to come together and celebrate the industry while driving the business of gaming forward. This year’s show will provide unprecedented opportunity to source new products and services.”
There was a lot to take in on the tradeshow floor at 2018 NIGA, so much so that the editors of Casino Journal are dividing their annual product review into two parts, the first of which will focus on some of the latest Class II and Class III gaming machine advances showcased by leading suppliers.
NIGA 2018 was the coming out party for AGS newest slot cabinet, the Orion Slant, the latest member of its award-winning Orion cabinet line with its distinctive U-shaped lighting design. Featuring a LCD topper and button deck, 32-inch top monitor, 24-inch bottom monitor and a USB charging port, the Orion Slant takes the proven performance of the original Orion Portrait and transforms it into a smart, slant-top footprint for ideal sightlines and an immersive gaming experience, according to press materials. Available for sale or lease with a game library based on established math models, new titles such as Dragon Fa, Phoenix Fa and Fu Nan Fu Nu Lucky Dragons include player-favorite game mechanics like progressive pick bonuses, volatility pickers, vibrant crisp graphics and 420 eye-catching emotive LED lights.
AGS also showcased new jackpot technology, with the ability for nearly every game across three different cabinet lines—ICON, Orion Portrait, and Orion Slant—to be connected to the Xtreme Jackpots multi-level progressive ecosystem. This innovative progressive connection increases excitement across the casino floor by building larger, more meaningful jackpot amounts that hit more frequently.
AINSWORTH GAME TECHNOLOGY
Ainsworth came to NIGA with a story to tell, and that story was AnyBet, a first-of-its-kind, patent-pending technology that offers Class II machine players the chance to win huge mystery progressive slot jackpots at any bet level. AnyBet functions through the use of bingo card technology that is proprietary to Ainsworth and awards players a set number of progressive cards based on their bet level. The higher the player bets, the more chances they will have to win the progressive prizes.
In addition to AnyBet, Ainsworth also debuted King’s Ransom, its latest progressive link concept, which features four unique games: Island Girl, Golden Tiki, Sakura Treasures and Lotus Riches. According to press materials, the Mystery Progressive is a “true” Pick ‘Em bonus—meaning the player is truly choosing, rather than going into a pre‐determined outcome. King’s Ransom was created by Ainsworth’s North American Development Studio.
On the slot games front, Ainsworth showcased Mustang for its A640 cabinet, which offers players an exciting Symbol Collection Bonus that enables huge wins. Also front and center was a Class II version of its popular PAC‐MAN WILD EDITION, also for the A640 cabinet.
Aristocrat displayed the latest game in its successful Game of Thrones franchise: Game of Thrones Fire & Blood, which was created specifically for the company’s new flame55 cabinet. The game, is based on seasons four, five, and six of HBO’s hit TV show and includes new characters, a new multi-site progressive and all-new game play, according to company literature.
The company also showcased one of its new cabinets—RELM XL. Standing an impressive nine-and-a-half feet tall, RELM XL features an eye-catching mechanical wheel topper and drives innovation with a unique 43-inch J-Curved monitor with full touchscreen capabilities, large classic reel symbols, traditional wheel plex, stereo sound and vibrant LED edge lighting.
VGT once again shared booth space with Aristocrat, which it used to premiere the latest titles for its Blazing Bulls line of Professional Bull Riders (PBR)-licensed gaming machines. These games—VS, Fearless and Ryan Dirteater—are three-reel mechanical wide-area progressive games that give players the chance to ride the excitement towards 8 Red Spins designed to mimic the thrill of an eight-second bull ride.
Featured at the Everi booth were two cabinet concepts—the Empire MPX (E43) and the Empire 5527 (E5527).
The E43 is a for-sale cabinet with 12 themes designed to give casinos the variety they need to entice their patrons to come back wanting more. A highlight from the game mix is Lightning Zap, an innovative game with no reels and fast game play that has shown outstanding performance in initial field placements, according to press materials. New on this platform for NIGA was the much anticipated Buffy the Vampire Slayer game, based on the wildly popular 1990s TV show that has since generated successful movies and books thanks to a strong cult following. The company also displayed a game based on the classic musical Singin’ in the Rain.
Meanwhile, the all-new E5527—launched in March 2018—features three exciting licensed themes: The Brady Bunch, based on the popular 1970s TV show; Fruit Ninja, one of the most downloaded casual social games of all time; and Felix the Cat, the black-and-white cartoon born in 1919 during the silent film era.
International Game Technology (IGT) used NIGA 2018 as a backdrop for the North America debut of its CrystalDual 27 cabinet. The sleek cabinet represents the evolution of the Crystal hardware series and is compatible with IGT’s Spin-Splosion! tournament solution, according to press materials. The cabinet features dual, high-definition, 27-inch displays, the option for bank-wide synchronized lighting, a mobile device charging port, and more. IGT will showcase this new hardware with marquee core titles such as the Mistress of Egypt, It’s Magic Lilly and Scarab games.
NIGA also served as the trade show debut for many IGT Class II titles, including new video bingo games developed on the Ascent platform. IGT also showed Class II versions of the Elephant King, King of Macedonia, and Dancing Reels Salsa games—all “Proven Performer” Class III titles that have been adapted to a Class II format. Additionally, NIGA attendees experienced IGT’s Class III Proven Performer mechanical reel titles such as Double Diamond Free Games and Double Gold Slots in a Class II format, along with exclusive Class II content for the mechanical reel S3000 cabinet with titles such as Jackpot Polly and Triple Double Hearts.
Incredible Technologies concentrated on displaying new games for its Infinity V55, Skybox and U23 cabinet lines at NIGA.
New V55 content included Money Rain 2, the sequel to the wildly successful Money Rain franchise, which featured familiar game content with ramped-up bonus events utilizing the V55’s massive 4K display. Many Fortunes is an Asian-themed V55 original title with random features available at each bet level. Multiple reel expansion features join wild reveals and a free-spin bonus event for frequent and exciting bonus action, according to company literature.
IT also introduced new high denomination product on the V55 and Skybox, with successful franchises such as Heat ‘Em Up now having high limit content available on all product lines, adding to a strong high limit video catalog.
New games for Infinity Super Skybox were also featured, and they included Big 3 Hypersonic, a classic casino-style base game with a huge bonus event on the simulated one-line mechanical reel set featured on the shared overhead display. Meanwhile, new game concepts for the Skybox cabinet included All Good! and Soaring Stars.
As per usual, Konami Gaming’s booth at NIGA was chock full of its latest slot games and cabinets for tribal gaming buyers’ perusal.
Showcased were Celestial Sun Riches and Celestial Moon Riches, all-new ULTRA REELS games, available on Concerto Upright and Slant cabinets, that feature a selectable Strike Zone area to activate additional bonus opportunities. Players can increase their extra bet amount to further expand the Strike Zone, where every wild eclipse symbols transform to random 2x or 3x multipliers and each sun or moon symbol awards a wheel bonus if the free-game feature is triggered, according to press materials. The Strike Zone concept was also displayed on the company’s Crescent line of cabinets with the new Star Watch series, which use a similar Strike Zone game mechanic to Celestial Sun Riches and Celestial Moon Riches, but instead of activating a central-reel section, players increase their bet to activate entire reel strips from left to right, up to the entire frame. Star Watch Fire and Star Watch Magma include multi-denom options, and both games are available now across North America.
On the cabinet front, Konami displayed Concerto Opus, which boasts an extra-large 65-inch 4K ultra HD display. Each machine also features a custom-lighted TouchDash button deck with dual spin buttons and cup holders, as well as an optional USB charger.
NOVOMATIC aimed to impress at NIGA be displaying three cabinets making their North America debut—PANTHERA 2.27, PANTHERA Curve 1.43 and the V.I.P. LOUNGE Curve 1.43. The distinctive PANTHERA 2.27, with two 27-inch LCD screens, is a straightforward design, featuring an interactive 15.6-inch TouchDeck and subtle LED effects. The PANTHERA Curve 1.43 will keep players engaged and on the edge of their seats with the imposing 4K-ready 43-inch curved screen. V.I.P. LOUNGE Curve 1.43 featured the perfect gaming curve view and interactive LED illumination to deliver an even more compelling gaming experience.
From a licensing perspective, NOVOMATIC showcased From Dusk Till Dawn and MacGyver in its PlayerPocket format. Meanwhile, the company’s ENCHANTED FORTUNES LINKED JACKPOT suite of new games were displayed. This linked progressive jackpot system connects two or more slots to create rewarding jackpot experiences with four win levels: Mini, Minor, Major and Grand, according to press materials.
Scientific Games aimed to impress with new technology at NIGA 2018, and featured new cabinet and game concepts at the event. One new product was MONOPOLY Millionaire, a five-reel, 40-line game showcased on the dramatic ALPHA Pro Wave 360 cabinet that showcased a Big Wheel Bonus where every spin is a winner. According to product descriptions, the wheel spins around the circumference of the cabinet bank’s topper and awards credit prizes: the Railroad Bonus, Electric Company Bonus or Free Parking Bonus where a single-level wide-area Progressive Jackpot can be won.
Also on display was the new TwinStar V75 cabinet featuring a 75-inch, curved, ultra-HD 4K-resolution display that offers players the ultimate, large-format gaming experience while addressing many issues operators have had with large-display cabinets. The sleek, patent-pending design of the TwinStar V75 cabinet allows for easy installation and servicing, and takes up a lot less floor and visual space. The TwinStar V75 showcased a selection of games at the show, including Cash Spin Deluxe, with its U-Spin Wheel Bonus that can award free games, huge credit prizes or one of four jackpots.