Konami Gaming continues to make inroads into the North American slot machine marketplace. The company’s desire to become a bigger player in this space was evident at last October’s Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas, where Konami displayed a wide and deep range of new games, cabinets and concepts aimed at U.S. gaming operators and slot consumers.

Steve Walther, senior director of marketing and product management for Konami Gaming, sat down with Slot Management & Marketing Editor Paul Doocey at G2E to talk about the slot machine highlights showcased at Konami’s G2E booth, a list that includes new linked progressive games for its Concerto cabinets, new large size cabinets, systems improvements and much more. What follows are some excerpts from this conversation:

Let’s talk about about your new progressive slot items displayed in the Konami booth this year…

WALTHER: We have a lot of customers that have Concerto upright and slants in the field, and this year we have decided to bring out some enhancements to that product with some new linked progressives. Money Galaxy is a three-round, what-you-see-is-what-you-get hold and spin style game, and it is doing real well and it has attracted a lot of attention on the [G2E tradeshow] floor. The companion to that is a new game called Thunder Arrow. Thunder Arrow kind of flips the dynamic on its head… every spin we show values that the players can win, and we pass targets through those values. If the targets land on those values, we shoot a target at it and it sticks in place throughout the bonus event as well.  With each spin, players get new anticipation awards they can hit.

In addition to the progressives, Konami has done a lot of work with content this year. What are some of the reasons the company is pushing more content?

WALTHER: One of the key things about the single screen cabinets that we offer—the Concerto Crescent and the Concerto Stack—is that they are transitioning from being a small niche style product into a core product. The adoption into the industry and the players of single-screen cabinets has been astounding over the last year. Performance on those cabinets, regardless whether it has been Konami games or some of the other competitor’s games, has been off the charts. We figured developing a significant amount of products for that platform, and showing them here at G2E, will correspond nicely to payer preferences and choices, so we’ve developed some unique game mechanics associated with them.

In addition to new game mechanics, Konami also displayed a number of new cabinets at G2E, including the Concerto Opus and KX 43. Please describe them and how they appeal to potential players… 

WALTHER: About six years ago, we created the right-size, big cabinet market with our Podium Goliath. Concerto Opus is the right-size for a big-size cabinet on a single-screen platform. It’s a 65-inch, ultra-high definition display. We have it on the floor as one single bank and a pod of three, or a pretty impressive bank of six—three back to back. That bank of six shows you can put a large cabinet and a bank on the floor and not completely dominate the floor… 

Coming in the near future, we have a cabinet called the KX 43, KX stands for Konami Experience. The KX 43 is a 43-inch, ultra-high definition display and it has its own line of products to go along with it as well.

We are showing on the Opus and the KX 43 a game called Diamond-izer.  It has a unique jackpot product that also features the Strike Zone. So the more of the Strike Zone that you bet, the better chances that you have of hitting one of the large jackpot prizes, as well as unique progressive style prize to go along with it. 

Also on the KX 43 we’ve got our new Reels Up series. The series is a progressive that has four different games on it.  Players look for the Reels Up symbol, and if two Reels Up symbols show on the first line, the reel’s third line expands and goes up; and when reel three gets a symbol, reel four goes up, etc. It has some unique mechanics, some great sounds, lots of movement and lots of action.

I also understand Konami has made some improvements to its SYNKROS management system…

WALTHER: SynkConnect is a new addition to our SYNKROS casino management system. SynkConnect allows players to use their mobile phone device, or any other portable, near field communications (NFC) enabled device. It can tap on and tap off to the machine so a player can walk up to the machine, use their NFC enabled device and log onto the machine… without a player’s club card. With the SynkConnect mobile product, players can opt to place points, promotions, tournament entries, etc., into the application that is housed on the phone.  It really gives the player the opportunity to have the power of the venue’s club or promotions program at the palm of their hand.

We are really evolving as an industry and as a society when it comes to payments, and there is now a lot of stuff that is being paid for by mobile. There are a lot of things that are happening where people no longer use hard cash currency, so we have to be adaptive and respond to new consumer needs. SynkConnect really targets that consumer service enhancement for a casino’s management system.