For decades, a visitor to the gaming floor would have been hard pressed to differentiate one slot cabinet from another.
After all, from the outside, slot machines all seemed to share the same basic features—coin tray, pull handle, reel glass, bill acceptor, service candle on the top and an ash tray of some sort. And in fact, regardless of manufacturer, very little slot cabinet differentiation existed… and customers saw casino floor after casino floor with row upon row of mechanical three-reel slot machines.
But the past 20 years have seen a dramatic sea of change when it comes to the look and feel of slot machine cabinets. Advances in technology have not only improved the game content of slots, but have produced cabinets that are more user-friendly, engaging and exciting for slot players. The introduction of new cabinet lines—once a very rare occurrence for manufacturers—are now commonplace, to that point that each new game type has a cabinet specially designed not only to house it, but to showcase it as well. The end result: varied slot floors featuring machine cabinets of all shape, sizes and configurations.
One trend that has helped usher in this new age of slot machine cabinet is advancements in screen technology. “The introduction of curved screens in 2013 shifted the hardware landscape which has continued to be a trend even today,” said Loren Rosenberg, director, product and market strategy for Everi. “Manufacturers are designing hardware specifically tailored to what they’re aiming to do on the screen.”
Also notable is a rise in single-screen game cabinets, including the curved screens, tall screens and big screens. “Single-screen cabinets have provided an expanded canvas to explore entirely new game mechanics, play features and animated bonuses,” said Steve Walther, senior director, marketing and product management at Konami Gaming. “Advances in video displays have had a marked influence on slot product, especially in recent years. Today, game screens in 4K ultra high-definition standout from across the casino floor and give players an even richer pixel depth, four times that of standard high-definition.”
Along with technology advances, customer expectations have also evolved. Players have grown to expect higher resolution graphics, bigger screens and more dynamic button panels on new cabinets. “Cabinets are now debuting with add-on accessories that are always interesting examples of emerging technologies, but it can be unclear whether they hold the incremental value to the operator or player to warrant the cost or risk,” said Caitlin Harte, director of product marketing at Incredible Technologies.
“There are several factors driving the evolution of slot cabinets, namely the advancement of technology and components, and the increasing sophistication of the play experience,” added Andrew Burke, senior vice president of slot products for AGS. “As technology advances, slot manufacturers are always looking to implement the newest innovations into their cabinets because it can dramatically change the play experience. For example, HD displays make the game theme truly come to life in a way that slot glass never could. And features like touch-screen button decks mimic the familiar touch-screen experience that consumers are accustomed to on their mobile phone, at the ATM and at the kiosk.”
Some other new features found on slot cabinets are USB ports and wireless phone chargers—added to offer customers convenience and enable them to extend their play experience. Furthermore, slot cabinets designs can enhance player experiences with the development of: haptics, 3D and 4D technology, gesture control, motion sensor technology, 4K resolution displays and the latest in surround sound.
Companies like AGS, have also changed the way in which it engineers its slot cabinets. “Rather than working directly with a cabinet fabricator and using stock components, we now have a full in-house team of industrial engineers with backgrounds in industrial design to major corporations, dedicated to innovating cutting-edge hardware platforms,” Burke said. “Our engineers also work closely with our service and operations teams to ensure that we are developing platforms that can be easily supported and maintained for years to come.”
Casino operators are looking for cabinets that visually stand out from the crowd and provide for greater flexibility to create unique floor configurations. Casino floor sight lines, ease of maintenance and practical comfort features are also important. “Cabinet design and its associated content ultimately comes down to providing a premium entertainment experience that appeals to a variety of players,” said Rosenberg.
What it boils down to is that operators are looking for value in slot cabinets today and slot manufacturers are responding with products to meet the demand. Below are a few of the top slot cabinet suppliers and their latest and greatest in slot cabinet developments.
AGS has two cabinets that it plans to formally launch into the market in 2019. The first is its new Orion Upright, the third cabinet in the company’s award-winning and high-performing Orion family. “We’ll formally launch it in Q3, and it will eventually serve as a replacement for our ICON cabinet and become our new core cabinet,” said Burke.
The Orion Upright combines the best features of the ICON and the Orion. This platform offers dual 27-inch displays, a 21.5-inch LCD topper, LCD button deck, high bright accented dual bash buttons, a USB charger and the Orion’s distinctive and eye-catching U-shaped starwall lighting design featuring 420 game-synchronized full-color LED lights for an innovative, gameplay celebration. The starwall feature offers a stunning display when games are banked together on the casino floor; it is truly distinctive and celebrates every minute of the game play experience, according to company literature. A USB charger was also added for player convenience, and the company delivered a design that makes maintenance and service faster and easier for operators, with centrally located locks behind the main monitor and full-service access through the belly and main doors.
AGS is launching the Orion Upright with an initial library of 10 games, including exclusive new titles and some of the company’s greatest hits too.
The second cabinet launching in 2019 is the Alora video bingo platform, designed for bingo markets like Mexico, the Philippines and soon Brazil. “Our pioneering and powerful Alora upright cabinet features sleek styling, dual 23-inch touchscreen HD displays, enhanced game-synchronized cabinet lighting, an LED button deck, premium audio package, eye-catching topper and an illuminated, foot pedal with play action for a truly immersive, hands-free experience,” Burke said. “We have a library of games to support Alora, including the player favorite Lotto Diamond.”
The Alora offers an illuminated foot pedal that functions as the play button for a hands-free experience. Alora games are available in multiple languages, including Portuguese, Spanish and English. Linked, near-area progressive and a community bonus feature add to the excitement for video bingo enthusiasts and novices alike.
The latest slot cabinet entering the market in 2019 from Aristocrat is the EdgeX. The release of the EdgeX is anticipated for April and will be launched with the titles FarmVille and Madonna. “This is an exciting new cabinet for us, and when we showcased it at G2E, customer response was very positive,” said Ryan Scott, senior director, product and portfolio strategy, gaming operations for Aristocrat.
EdgeX offers a unique form factor with two curved 43-inch cinematic LCD screens displaying panoramic views combined with stereo symphonic surround sound and virtual button deck, all in a cabinet that occupies a “mini-jumbo” footprint.
Along with the EdgeX’s dual curved 43-inch monitors and 4K display, the cabinet also has a virtual button deck and an iChair or iBench.
“In addition to cabinet technologies, each of our launch titles incorporates fun features for players,” said Scott. “For example, FarmVille incorporates Aristocrat’s Mighty Cash game mechanic. Madonna invites players to get into the groove with an interactive karaoke feature, showcasing Madonna’s iconic songs ‘Material Girl,’ ‘Into the Groove’ and ‘Open Your Heart.’”
The new cabinets and hardware platforms Everi is releasing to market in 2019 are reflective of the investments the company has made over the past several years in developing new gaming entertainment solutions and experiences for players.
“We believe these new form factors will engage players at higher levels and help operators generate higher returns on their investments in our products,” said Rosenberg. “Our new hardware innovations such as Empire Arena and Skyline Revolve enhance already proven form factors like the Empire 5527 and the popular mechanical three-reel Player Classic, respectively.”
Meanwhile, the company expanded the standalone Empire 5527 to create Empire Arena, a fully featured banked product with multiple configurations starting with three units and going up to eight units, that offers operators increased banking flexibility while providing players a premium interactive experience with multiple exciting bonus games. The dual-screen base games feature a touch-capable 27-inch landscape-oriented lower LCD screen and a 55-inch portrait format non-touch upper screen with integrated content seamlessly flowing between the electronic gaming machines (EGM).
Empire Arena will launch with Discovery Channel’s Shark Week as the licensed bonus game and four exciting Everi base games.
“Everi is continuing its success in the high-denomination three-reel mechanical reel market through the introduction of its first mechanical wheel-top box feature Skyline Revolve,” said Rosenberg. “The platform is designed specifically for the popular Skyline top box which combines the traditional look and feel of the Player Classic with a vintage-inspired bezel for a thrilling reinvention of the classic mechanical cabinet.”
Skyline Revolve features dynamic lighting behind the wheel wedges and a physical bell that sounds during bonuses and big wins. The platform will launch with Penn & Teller and Casablanca.
Everi’s Lightning Zap Jackpots series is one of the industry’s most unique game themes with inventive game mechanics that does away with the conventional—no reels, no lines and no pay tables—on the company’s Empire MPX premium cabinet. These mechanics create a new player experience that leverages the original game Lightning Zap’s proven formula for success with simplicity, all while keeping the core gambler psychology in mind. Lightning Zap Jackpots adds to the depth of that experience with three themes—Electric Rush, Power Burst and Super Charge—all with varying volatility levels and different features. For additional upside, the series incorporates five linked progressives. The space efficient design of Empire MPX enables operators to bank in pods of three or six EGMs with other Lightning Zap Jackpots themes.
International Game Technology PLC (IGT) revealed new slot cabinets at G2E 2018, one of which was the MEGATOWER Gaming Machine—its largest cabinet to date, built to compete with other large format cabinets in the market. Its huge size is expected to draw people in while its premium titles, designed to work with the CrystalWheel Stepper and CrystalDual+ Stepper content library, are anticipated to keep players engaged and entertained.
Benefits and features of this large-sized cabinet include the use of the Crystal Upright base module and incorporation of a huge and crystal-clear display. Paired with premium brands such as Wheel of Fortune, Megabucks and Top Dollar games, IGT’s MEGATOWER Gaming Machine can create a gravitational presence on casino floors, according to company materials.
Designed to improve player experience with three 9-inch wide mechanical reels, the cabinet includes a 28-inch by 5-inch LCD touch screen, 55-inch portrait upper display and an optional 27-inch spinning wheel. It also boasts a dynamic player panel (DPP) with dual bash buttons, improved and player accepted game play content, improved reliability and option to lock bet panel to eliminate errant screen touches and dual physical repeat button.
The cabinet’s intelligent cabinet lighting was built with the same tools as S3000 CrystalCore and CrystalDual cabinets, designed for improved attract and celebration sequences. The lights sync up to game experience, and rhw music and sounds, and banked lighting does not require additional hardware for basic functionality.
The CrystalCurve ULTRA cabinet hosts an impressive game library and supports a dedicated Premium Ascent foundation content pipeline. Content will be derived from select CrystalWheel Stepper cabinets and CrystalDual+ Stepper cabinet titles.
Incredible Technologies (IT) built its business around the idea that, as a general rule, “Operators want the highest performing games, no matter the form factor.” However, floor space is valuable and as a manufacturer, the company is reportedly aware that it has to earn its share. All the company’s cabinets are designed to fit on a standard base to keep its physical cabinet footprint manageable—something the company states it has been very mindful of for years.
“With the current rollout of the Infinity V55 Edge, operators can now also maximize their floorspace by adding their own promotional content to the Edge monitors,” said Harte. “We are not a sign company but realize we can compete with other digital signage solutions on the casino floor by finding a cost-effective way to capitalize upon our floor share—to not only improve game performance, but also offer customization options to the operator. We’re continually looking for ways we can better utilize valuable real estate when it comes to cabinet design.”
In 2019 IT will be rolling out its Infinity V55 Edge product, capitalizing on the success of the Infinity V55 cabinet by adding 4K video wedges to complete the unified bank look. One of the newest IT game families to debut on the V55 is Clinko. With two base games—Winning Wall and King of Bling—the games cater to a variety of players. IT plans to debut dozens of additional V55 titles throughout 2019.
“The Infinity V55 continues to impress operators, breaking out as one of the best performing core cabinets in 2018,” said Harte. “The 55-inch 4K portrait screen is utilized in a variety of ways within each game feature family. The Clinko titles feature a giant pachinko-like board for random awards and bonus events. Our Power Wheel games feature a huge bonus wheel on the 55-inch screen and have been named in widely recognized industry reports as some of the highest performing core titles on casino floors. Our 2019 V55 titles will utilize the large canvas the V55 provides to our designers to bring even more innovative bonus events and player interaction features.”
The Infinity V55 Edge debuted at G2E 2018 in the never-been-seen-before Sawtooth configuration. The feedback IT received at G2E revealed the Sawtooth packaging was a game changer. The games are placed at an angle and then spaced by an Edge monitor. This unique configuration allows players to have their own personal space, while feeling part of a unified game bank. Operators can find beverage and attendant service easier than ever, as the extra space gives floor staff more room to interact with patrons without interrupting play. The first-of-its-kind configuration produces an incredible display of 4K graphics, visible from every angle on the slot floor.
This year marks the launch of Konami’s new KX 43 video slot. Its 43-inch, edge-lit portrait screen carries custom-programed graphic interaction down through the LCD button panel, which is inlaid a relaxed slant top. KX 43 has a standard cabinet width includes the core comforts and conveniences for today’s players, such as a USB charging port, dual cup holders and dual classic bash buttons. Multi-color attract lighting stretches top-to-bottom across the entire length of the cabinet and is specially-programmed to respond to game play events and bonuses.
KX 43 is delivering a competitive lineup of exclusive launch titles—everything from symbol-driven linked progressives to original jackpot bonuses. Ba Fang Jin Bao is among the new linked progressives premiering this spring on KX 43. This original series showcases proven mechanics from Konami’s popular Cai Li Si Ji titles like Wealth of Dynasty and delivers it in a single-screen format with even more player bet options. Konami’s Reels Up linked progressive is another highly-anticipated launch series for KX 43. Series titles including Vegas Rise, Mayan Times and Hong Kong Lights feature “up arrow” symbols across all five reels, which trigger the game’s original new Reels Up mechanic. Whenever the arrows land on reels one and two, it can cause the subsequent reels to expand upward for the chance at special bonus events, which uniquely correspond to the player’s selected bet level.
Konami’s 65-inch Opus cabinet is also expanding across North America and beyond. In many ways, Opus is the next evolution of the company’s Podium Goliath cabinet, which reportedly saw strong popularity as an oversized cabinet with great game content and reasonable floor space requirements. The cabinet’s Triple Sparkle debut launch series has seen demonstrated success, bringing back Konami’s popular Sparkle Feature from Solstice Celebration and Riches with Daikoku. It features a unique betting structure that rewards players with a symbol-driven linked progressive chance when they bet max.
Treasure Ball and Diamond-izer are Konami’s next big releases on Opus. Treasure Ball is a unique linked progressive—reminiscent of retro coin-operated toy capsule machines—which rewards players with mystery jackpot prize balls in greater numbers and sizes as they increase their bet. Diamond-izer is the first Strike Zone game to be featured on Opus, and includes a symbol-driven jackpot mechanic that rewards players with a percentage of the Diamond-izer jackpot pool at higher extra bet contributions, as a bonus over and above the fixed Mini, Major or Maxi amount. Players can increase their extra bet contribution to activate additional Strike Zone reels with expanding full-reel wilds, up to the entire reel frame. If jackpot symbols appear across reel one with full-reel wilds across the remaining reels,
the corresponding jackpot prize is awarded as well as 100 percent of the Diamond-izer.
“Konami is active in delivering the latest game screen enhancements to the casino floor, including 4K Ultra HD resolution,” said Walther. “4K resolution allows us to showcase original content with pin-sharp game graphics and a depth of visual clarity in every spin. It’s an enhancement that pops from across the room and engages players that want to enjoy that premium experience, with the popular game styles they recognize and enjoy.”
The new 65-inch Concerto Opus cabinet includes a 4K Ultra HD screen, as does our new KX 43 cabinet, with a 43-inch 4K display. Both cabinets offer players a memorable and engaging experience from top to bottom.