Technological enhancements for casino slot tournaments
Tourning it On
As casino slot tournaments grow in popularity, tournament system providers add technological enhancements to make their solutions more exciting for players and more cost efficient for operators
If you have witnessed a slot tournament first hand, it is clear to see how it has the ability to keep players energized and connected, which is key for any property looking to retain repeat guests over time.
Slot tournaments are indeed popular worldwide, and it might even be fair to say that, in the majority of the regions, slot tournaments have proven to be one of the most enduring and reliably successful promotions for a casino.
“Having a good tournament solution is a lasting marketing investment,” said Ted Keenan, vice president of product management, systems for Scientific Games. “With the proven longevity of tournament solutions, having one that is flexible and adaptable to a slot floor without forcing sacrifices to the optimal strategy over time is very important.”
And thanks to ever-evolving slot tournament management systems, the tournaments themselves are more efficient and increasingly automated, providing operators with benefits such as enhanced game selection, ease of use and lower operating costs. In addition, deploying a tournament solution on the casino floor can introduce an element of inter-casino entertainment for an operator, as well as provide a unique opportunity for enterprise-wide marketing campaigns.
“IGT’s tournament solutions can also help operators draw attention to under-utilized zones on a casino floor,” said Dallas Orchard, chief product officer, gaming for International Game Technology PLC (IGT). “By simply switching the slot machines from tournament to coin-in mode, operators can inject a burst of energy into a region of a casino floor. The product’s new tournament team functionality can serve as a reason for casino players to invite and recruit friends and family to partake in tournament fun—expanding a casino’s player base and bolstering loyalty club membership.”
Suppliers are unquestionably moving forward in creating these flexible and adaptable solutions. Below executives from a few of the top gaming suppliers provided an update on their latest solutions—many of which will be showcased at next month’s Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas—along with predictions on what the future for slot tournaments might look like.
Konami Gaming has delivered casino management system solutions since 2002, and today its core technology supports nearly 400 venues of various sizes. Konami’s SYNKROS is known for its reliability, marketing tools and robust data. Casino properties of all varieties select SYNKROS to power their business.
Since 2012, SYNKROS has offered system-delivered tournaments of several different themes and flexible methods of deployment. Built with a focus on simple setup and minimal staffing requirements, True-Time Tournaments allows casino operators to schedule synchronized or on-demand tournament events that automatically qualify carded players for entry based on specific criteria and behavior. Today it is used across many different types of casino properties to bring the excitement of slot tournaments to any number of machines by any manufacturer, with the tap of a button.
Konami’s True-Time Tournaments allow players to both earn tournament entries from any machine and play tournaments on any True-Time Windowing-equipped machines. Practically any touchscreen enabled gaming device can be instantly transformed into a tournament-capable machine, and then returned back into revenue-generating game play. Everything is managed, controlled and deployed through the SYNKROS casino management system so casino operators don’t have to reserve dedicated tournament-only machines or purchase a large set of specialized game cabinets.
Depending on a property’s unique promotional needs, True-Time Tournaments has the flexibility to deliver synchronized tournament games and on-demand tournament games to reward carded players. “Some of our customers create dedicated sections where their players compete in synchronized tournaments, others like floor-wide events, others award entries for players to access on-demand at their convenience, and some properties will circulate through any number of these depending on the particular promotion,” said Steve Walther, senior director, marketing and product management for Konami. “Both are seamlessly managed through SYNKROS and provide our customers with the flexibility to deploy either variation. Today SYNKROS’ award-winning tournament product continues to grow across North America because it allows operators to create excitement, drive trips and increase coin-in with a fixed marketing budget.”
From an on-site marketing perspective, True-Time Tournaments supports customized leaderboard displays, so operators have the flexibility to feature their own unique branding and further optimize their promotional tournament messaging. Leaderboards help reinforce participation by highlighting top participants, while encouraging other players to join.
Additionally, customers with True-Time Tournaments have full access to a broad library of available tournament game themes, including Midway Madness, Hero Collection, Fruit Funds, Romancing the Reels and more.
“True-Time Tournaments is the only system-delivered tournament product on the market with player multi-game capabilities,” said Walther. “When redeeming an on-demand tournament entry at any enabled video slot machine, carded players can have the option to choose from an array of game themes, to help keep tournament promotions fresh and unique. Players are given a menu of game theme options when claiming their tournament entries, empowering them with an additional element of control and excitement when they achieve targeted sales and marketing rewards at the property. This is a feature that operators can enable or disable, for any number of Konami’s available tournament themes.”
Konami supports all SYNKROS properties with free regular upgrades, which are completed remotely at Konami’s headquarters within just three or four hours. In an upgrade released earlier this year, True-Time Tournaments’ reporting and analytics were reportedly expanded to provide properties with advanced insight into results and participation down to the patron. And because True-Time Tournaments is built into SYNKROS, all player tracking data can be seamlessly captured and recorded to drive on-going business decisions.
Konami will be showcasing True-Time Tournaments within the full context of a live demo environment during G2E 2018, both on standard dual-screen cabinets and premium single-screen formats. Guests will be able to see, interact and engage first hand with both player-facing and administrative functions.
“There’s an element of continuing engagement built into the nature of tournament competitions that make them uniquely fulfilling to players overtime,” said Walther. “In the future we could see efforts toward continuing engagement spill into additional areas of connection, entertainment and functionality.”
Scientific Games’ slot tournament solution enables existing slot machines from multiple manufacturers to be used for tournament play.
DM Tournaments and Tournaments Express consist of a tournament system that works in conjunction with the iVIEW Display Manager installed inside each slot machine. They also both support multiple tournament formats with a variety of tournament games. SG system customers with DM Tournaments can also take advantage of bonus tournaments—a unique tournament format in which the main slot machine remains playable alongside the bonus game displayed on the screen. Players can automatically earn additional entries into bonus tournaments while striving to improve their score on the overall leaderboard. Bonus tournaments enable floor-wide tournament excitement in a fully automated format.
DM Tournaments and Tournaments Express consist of a tournament system that works in conjunction with the iVIEW Display Manager installed inside each slot machine. There are two differentiating features of DM Tournaments. First, the tournament system works on slot machines already on a casino floor. An operator can easily move the tournament area and is not limited to a specific cabinet on which tournaments will work. Low performing machines do not need to be left on the floor in order to run tournaments. And second, DM Tournaments can be fully integrated with the casino management system for full automation of qualification, registration, scoring and prize awards.
In the past year, SG has focused on new tournament game content and a national promotion in conjunction with MONOPOLY and Carnival Cruise Lines. The MONOPOLY Millionaire Tournament Game is used for the MONOPOLY Cruise for Cash promotion, in which participating properties award a winner with an entry to the final slot tournament on a Carnival Cruise with guaranteed cash prizes. Scientific Games offers the promotion as a turn-key service so that an operator only has to decide which players to invite. In addition to the MONOPOLY Tournament Game used in the promotion, two other high-production value games have been developed—Quick Hit Mania and Jackpot Party. All three games will be available for existing and new DM Tournament and Tournaments Express customers.
“Slot tournaments have proven to be evergreen promotional formats to drive visits to the property,” said Keenan. Looking to the future, Keenan believes, “those promotional tournaments will increasingly become available on mobile devices as a means of enticing return trips to the casino. Tournaments have been a successful promotional tool for many years inside properties, and mobile devices will enable casino markets to leverage the excitement of tournaments for marketing purposes beyond the four-walls of the casino.”
DM Tournaments will be available for demonstration at G2E and promotional tournament events will be running off the show floor.
Everi is a single source supplier of gaming products and financial technology solutions for the casino gaming industry. The company provides casino operators with a diverse portfolio of products including innovative gaming machines and casino operational and management systems that include comprehensive, end-to-end financial technology solutions, critical intelligence offerings and gaming operations efficiency technology.
Everi has been an industry leader in slot tournaments for more than a decade having introduced Casino Commander Game Management System in 2004. In 2011, the company launched its TournEvent slot tournament system that currently has more than 400 casinos in North and South America with TournEvent representing more than 5,000 gaming units.
TournEvent revolutionized slot tournaments for both slot operators and players. With the system, operators have the ability to seamlessly switch from in-revenue gaming to out-of-revenue tournaments within seconds with the click of a mouse. For players, the system’s extensive library of more than 20 tournament games enables operators to tailor and create memorable experiences for players and offer any promotion. Tournament game titles range from the skill based Fruit Ninja tournament—where players compete to slice fruit in a timed tournament—to the simple three-reel classic spinning slot games and interactive bonus popping games.
Everi is reportedly committed to innovation and improving upon its current system not only in terms of enhancements for operators, but also for tournament cabinet form factors. To help operators in creating memorable experiences for tournament players, Everi designs unique tournament cabinets as well as engaging skill-type tournament games.
Recent additions include:
• Automated Wild Card Drawing which enables operators to perform virtual wild card drawing at the beginning of any round in order to randomly advance players to subsequent rounds;
• Automated VIP filtering where only select players will be automatically registered into tournaments;
• Find Seat Helper in which a system assigns electronic gaming machine color to each player during registration; and
• On Deck Display that cycles through active, on deck and upcoming session player times.
Everi reported that its next generation TournEvent system will be more efficient for operators to run and administer tournaments along with new features that will enhance the in-revenue games on the system.
The 2018 Global Gaming Expo will serve as the host for The Million Dollar Event, the culmination of the 2018 TournEvent of Champions promotion. In its seventh consecutive year, TournEvent of Champions will have visited 104 casinos across the U.S. and Canada to crown 166 players from more than 200,000 who will compete on October 9 at XS in the Wynn/Encore Las Vegas Resort for a share of $1.4 million in cash prizes, including a $1 million top prize.
In addition, Everi will host a Fruit Ninja tournament on its TournEvent solution for all TournEvent of Champions players and their guest in the company’s booth at G2E. More than 300 players and their guests are invited to compete in the tournament.
Everi has a long-standing tradition of enhancing TournEvent out-of-revenue games with interactive and skill-based elements. In 2011, Everi launched a series of TournEvent games with the Pop-N-Win bonus. In 2017, Everi introduced its first completely skill-based games with the Pop-N-Win bonus play button with Fruit Ninja. The company believes tournament games will transition from traditional slot play to a truly skill-based experience as well as online tie-ins that are more popular with the next generation of slot players.
Being a total solutions provider, IGT slot tournament technology has played an important role in the company’s overall product portfolio for many years. Fueled by the Tournament Manager 6.0 system, TournXtreme is IGT’s tournament product line. The brand encompasses three independent solutions: Spin Ferno for the company’s S3000 cabinet, Spin-Splosion! for its dual-screen Crystal Series video cabinets and Ultimate X Poker Tournament for a range of upright video poker cabinets.
IGT’s TournXtreme stands apart in the marketplace being that the company is the only supplier to offer a tournament solution for video poker, video slots and mechanical reel slots, as well as, all three TournXtreme solutions, Spin-Splosion!, Spin Ferno and Ultimate X Poker Tournament, are able to change from coin-in to tournament mode.
“IGT’s advantage here is that we have a deep library of proven game themes that have strong performance histories in coin-in mode,” said Orchard. “For example, our customers can deploy Spin-Splosion! tournaments on any of our dual-screen Crystal Series hardware, the same hardware that houses our growing library of “Proven Performer” game titles such as Golden Egypt, Ocean Magic and Big 5 Safari. Similarly, the base games for the tournament-compatible S3000 feature proven math and player-favorite themes such as Red Hot Tamales!, Super Silver 7 and Gold Bar 7s. Finally, the multi-site capabilities of our TournXtreme product line extend to the solutions’ customizable leaderboards and seamless integration into the IGT Advantage casino management system without the addition of labor costs.”
IGT’s TournXtreme solutions are deployed throughout the world, however IGT currently has the most momentum with its tournament solutions in North America. “I believe IGT’s tournament solutions are more widely leveraged in the U.S. market for a number of reasons,” said Orchard. “First, Nevada is the strongest video poker market in the world and therefore our Ultimate X Poker Tournament product has the most relevance in Nevada. Second, the U.S. is a mature mechanical reel market, elevating the opportunity for our Spin-Ferno solution on the S3000. Finally, casinos in the U.S. tend to be larger and include more slot machines than in many other countries—making it easier to accommodate large-scale tournaments on the casino floor. IGT currently has the Spin-Cation promotion underway with Carnival Cruise lines; this promotion continues to be well-received by our customers and their players and is extending the excitement of TournXtreme tournaments to the cruise industry.”
IGT plans to have an exciting and lively tournament presentation at G2E, with the introduction of a new, attention-grabbing video tournament solution, IncrediBell! within the company’s booth.