Global Outlook: G2E 2018 Skill Games
In the first of a two part series looking at new and improved products showcased at Global Gaming Expo (G2E), the editors of Casino Journal note the skill/arcade games and systems updates that were featured by various vendors on the tradeshow floor
Another Global Gaming Expo (G2E) show is in the books, and it is time to take stock of all that was discussed, heard and seen at the annual event.
Few would argue that the overarching theme on both the conference and trade show sides of G2E was sports betting in the U.S., and how it will be established, its potential economic impact and the products and services vendors are offering to ease the transition.
But of course there were many other worthy topics to explore coming out of G2E, especially on the product side involving new and innovative devices and systems that were displayed on the tradeshow floor. For those seeking a recap of interesting new games and cabinets showcased at G2E, please peruse the November issue of Slot Management & Marketing. As for this issue of Casino Journal, the first article of our two-part series on new G2E 2018 products will focus on skill games and slot systems solutions that stood out at the show, with the companies describing their products in their own words:
Skill- and arcade-based slot games continued to garner attention at G2E. Here is a breakdown of new or improved concepts by some leading suppliers:
The company showcased its expanded portfolio of skill-based games, headlined by its premier game, Running Rich Racing, which was recently BMM test lab certified after a successful six month period at three Las Vegas casinos.
The reimagined Running Rich Racing is a multi-player kart-racing experience where players battle for cash on different race tracks based on modern spins of classic fairytales. The skill/chance hybrid game is now even more intuitive and fun to play and win. The game’s innovative driving cabinet design features an attachable rear kiosk that houses the BMM certified game Running Rich REELS. An adaptation of the successful Running Rich Racing, “REELS” players spin a 5x3 reel matching power up symbols, characters and cars with exciting bonus games including a never before seen drag race.
The company’s newest products included the Star Striker series of games. Star Striker NEON is a fast paced, single-player, space shoot’em-up set deep in space. Players wager on various levels in for different stages, battling enemy alien ships and clearing a level for a Payday bonus. Through the use of wagered power ups, like multi-shot and shield, the player fights through to The Boss for the ultimate Payday. As the grandchild of the classic arcade game Galaga, Star Striker NEON is played on a standup casino cabinet with classic arcade buttons and a joystick.
Set in the same, universe, Star Striker RACING is the future of casino/arcade multi‐player racing games.
In partnership with Bandai Namco Amusement, the developer behind the iconic arcade game PAC-MAN, Gamblit’s PAC-MAN Cash Chase a single-player experience debuted at G2E on the company’s TriStation game machine. The most beloved videogame character of all time gets gamblified as a real-money gaming experience, hitting Las Vegas casino floors Q1 2019, but was playable for the first time at G2E.
Gamblit’s engaging single-player TriStation hardware, now officially launched on casino floors, also offered G2E attendees a first look at brand new game titles such as Road Redemption, the hit PC and console beat ‘em up racer from EQ games made its exclusive debut on the TriStation platform; Cut the Rope, the wildly popular puzzle game adventure franchise developed with ZeptoLab got gamblified after garnering more than 1 billion downloads; Doodle Jump, the 250 million downloaded classic high-flying platform game, developed with Lima Sky lets players hop, skip and jump their way to success; and Brew Caps, which lets players put their eyes to the test by matching bottle caps as fast as they can.
At G2E, GameCo displayed the first of its Generation 3 (GEN 3) skill-based games. The first GEN 3 title, which launched recently in New Jersey and Connecticut, is an updated release of “Nothin’ but Net,”, a fast-paced realistic 3D basketball game. In “Nothin’ but Net 2” players take multiple shots on basket, each shot corresponds to a single bet with denominations comparable to a slot machine spin. If a player makes 10 out of 15 baskets, they enter the bonus round where they have a free chance to win a progressive jackpot.
Additionally, GEN 3 games feature four new innovations: a free tutorial option, a new Token Economy, a “personal jackpot” called the Miss Pool and an odds-enhancing $20 Jackpot Bet.
GameCo also debuted an adaptation of BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment’s legendary fighting game SOULCALIBURII. Rated as one of world’s most popular fighting games of all time, SOULCALIBURII Casino Edition has been jointly developed with BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment`s team to deliver the same player experience, which earned the title critical acclaim. Featuring well-known player characters such as Mitsurugi and Taki the fan-favorite SOULCALIBURII marks the first time an AAA console and online video game will be adapted for land-based casinos and includes a traditional arcade-style fighting game button deck.
The company’s vast booth featured Chill Gaming’s unique games Bloomtopia and Fortunes of the Brave. Designed to appeal to a large demographic of players, these games award both monetary and non-monetary awards, while Fortune of the Brave includes skill-based bonus events.
Leveraging the company’s expertise in popular consumer arcade and video games, Konami’s award-winning Beat Square challenges gamers to play, compete and prove their skill in a game of rhythmic coordination across a lighted touch pad dashboard, packed with new and recognizable tunes. Based on technology developed through iconic Konami creations like Dance Dance Revolution, Beat Square is the casino industry’s first musical rhythmic dexterity skill-game. It combines video game and arcade entertainment with original for-wager mathematics in order to provide casino players with a skill-based gaming experience that appropriately awards top players and new players alike.
When the player selects a song and the game begins, different squares illuminate in rhythmic patterns, which the player taps in tempo to achieve higher points and random credit awards. Players can try their skill against the high scores leaderboard during single player mode, or compete with up to eight people during a Beat Square Tournament. Beat Square provides an exciting skill-based experience unlike anything else ever shown to market, with fun rhythmic game play, shared social interaction, big-win competitive leaderboards, and original for-wager mathematics to appropriately reward players within an engineered payback percentage.
Visitors to the Next Gaming booth found skill-based games unique in both the visual elements and the performance aspects of their designs. In addition to the game designs, the company has created various skill levels for players… this allows the novice to the serious gamer to enjoy the playing experience. Also, the controls for those games replicate the original hardware, such as joysticks, spinners, track-balls and button decks to strengthen the authenticity of the playing experience.
On the games front, the company continued to enhance its game designs for the products unveiled last year while adding two additional iconic titles from Atari: Missile Command and Tempest. The company has spent hundreds of hours, and conducted multiple focus groups, to offer the most entertaining and compelling skill-based games. For example, Next Gaming has added BOSS features to its Arkanoid and ZForce games to create another challenging aspect for those concepts. The company has also created additional levels for each game to extend the players time on the device and to challenge their skills.
Game systems developers continued to upgrade and evolve their offering to better meet the mobile demand of casino operators and their patrons. Some of the companies with new or improved systems offerings that stood out on the G2E showfloor were:
Aristocrat’s Oasis 360 system solutions highlighted a multitude of products focused on developing a deeper connection with operators to help them be more competitive, efficient and innovative. Solutions include Oasis Loyalty, a multi-site single card marketing and rewards solution; ONE LINK, a floor-wide bonusing, media and progressive management solution; Drinks On Tap, an award-winning mobile drink-ordering system; and Oasis 360 Loyalty Kiosk, with a fully integrated enterprise suite of cutting-edge bonusing, reporting, card reprinting and marketing promotions.
The company demoed a number of financial systems technologies to help operators handle transaction in a more convenient, efficient and secure manner. For example, Everi’s CashClub Wallet is a sophisticated, interactive digital wallet that consolidates payment options for players when integrated with Everi’s CashClub software and full-service kiosks. CashClub Wallet allows players to store multiple payment methods, easily move funds in and out of the casino, and manage their spend limits, all aimed at supporting responsible gaming. CashClub Wallet also creates consistency across payment types through a convenient and efficient patron interface.
CashClub Concierge is a personalized cash access cage service for VIPs as well as table games and high-limit room players that integrates mobile tablets and mobile point-of-sale (POS) devices through the CashClub software. CashClub Concierge eliminates the need for a player to move away from gaming to access additional funds as the product brings the cage to the player. Once players are enrolled in CashClub, they only need to visit the cage once for transactions to be authorized, retrieved, and completed on the floor.
Everi Compliance AML solution is the gold standard for AML compliance across the industry. The product suite provides real-time tracking for all transactions on the casino floor and integrates with all major casino management systems. The system also completes, files, and archives forms required to comply with federal money laundering requirements.
Jackpot Xpress is a highly intuitive software platform that enables floor staff to securely and efficiently process jackpots using a mobile device (Jackpot Xpress Mobile) right at the player’s gaming machine. Jackpot Xpress is the only jackpot management system that combines mobile productivity, secure kiosk payment, tax forms management and AML tracking into a single solution. The technology effectively reduces or eliminates paper, reduces cage lines, player wait times and improves efficiency of casino staff.
Everi’s CentralCredit is the industry-leading repository for casino-related credit information and reporting to determine a patrons’ creditworthiness. The solution enables operators to quickly and efficiently make informed, proactive decisions for extending casino credit to patrons—as the platform provides real-time and seamless access to the industry’s largest gaming credit bureau. Similar to other solutions in Everi’s Intelligence toolkit, CentralCredit has helped operators grow market share and increase patron loyalty while increasing operational efficiencies.
IGT’s Systems area focued on its media management solution, M5, which is a modular add-on to IGT’s leading casino management system, IGT Advantage. M5 enables operators to leverage a slot machine’s Service Window to showcase bonuses, loyalty programs and promotions. It gives players access to a variety of options such ordering a drink, making a dinner reservation and more—all without leaving the slot machine. Other systems innovations within IGT’s booth such as Cardless Connect and Mobile Intelligent Offer reinforced IGT’s leadership in developing mobile solutions that enhance land-based casinos.
The focus of Konami’s award-winning SYNKROS casino management system during G2E 2018 was on enhancing player convenience, in-game marketing and branded loyalty program touchpoints. SYNKROS was operating live throughout the booth as a comprehensive demo environment for guests to explore a variety of leading tools and features.
The year marked the industry debut of Konami’s SynkConnect “cardless” player tracking convenience. This touchless, multi-channel solution empowers casino players with a variety of secure methods to augment or replace a traditional player loyalty card at the EGM, including their personal mobile device, fobs, a room key and more. It helps open up more opportunities for players to connect and engage with property loyalty programs by combing Near Field Communication (NFC) through a card reader. For mobile cardless connection, players simply tap a personal smartphone device at the zone of the card reader bezel and the card reader changes color to indicate blue for inactive/uncarded connection, green for successful active connection, or red for misread/failed connection.
Konami has also developed SynkConnect Mobile as a robust mobile application to give players all the benefits of touchless authentication. This cardless player tracking convenience empowers players to login to any equipped EGM through the app and enjoy all the tools to view and manage their loyalty account from anywhere. Properties can customize the SynkConnect app options to mirror the property brand and link it with an existing app.
Konami’s SynkConnect helps transform how casino players connect and engage with the casino’s loyalty program using the technology conveniences already interlaced through their daily life and the guest experience. With more new ways for players to connect, SynkConnect helps eliminate barriers caused by dependence on traditional loyalty cards and increase carded play activity through a number of convenient methods of authentication.
With Konami’s new MarxerTrax, casinos can issue, record, manage and track slot credit that is extended to player accounts directly in SYNKROS for optimal credit collection and AML compliance measures. MarkerTrax allows operators to manage a player’s credit limit in order to provide slot credit directly to a carded patron’s electronic Cashless Wagering Account (CWA). By tracking not only the extension of credit, but the use of the credit, MarkerTrax can improve both credit collections and compliance.
A key product of Konami’s SYNKROS casino management system, True-Time Windowing creates a full canvas of possibilities to deploy an array of incentives, bonuses, account functions, notifications, streaming video, marketing promotions, custom branding and more, directly onto the screen of most any video slot without interrupting game play. Now Konami’s next-generation True-Time Windowing is releasing a wave of new enhancements designed to reach the widest possible audience with top conveniences including: Web Services, which llows players to access a near limitless variety of potential applications as configured by the property, such as restaurant reservations and any other online HTML5-based tools or programs; Service Requests, which invites carded guests to place an electronic drink order or call for assistance; and Advanced Viewing Options & Screen Compatibility, where players can easily toggle between minimized, wrapped, and full-screen view options anytime, and receive important notifications regardless of the option they select.
The company showed its customers how it is evolving entertainment by transforming the traditional casino into a dynamic space that offers unique social experiences, fosters player interaction and creates immersive environments. By imagining how players will experience the casino of the future, Scientific Games is evolving land-based gaming and innovating a connected system from casino to mobile to home.
As a provider of gaming systems, Scientific Games demonstrated its unrivaled cardless, cashless, connected player experience and unveiled a Table Ecosystem of real-time ratings and table game analytics for superior operational performance. Beyond dynamic games, the company offered systems that create a better player experience and a more profitable and informed operator. From the iVIEW4, which offers cardless loyalty enablement and a cashless wallet to Praxis Analytics, offering intelligent and predictive data that support marketing, loyalty and customer engagement, Scientific Games showed how all the products and systems integrate on the gaming floor.