Like many slot machine suppliers, Ainsworth Game Technology continues to derive a healthy percentage of its yearly revenue stream from tribal casino operators and the Indian gaming community as a whole. To maintain and grow this relationship, Ainsworth is continuously pushing new games and hardware in front of tribal gaming operators, which makes the annual NIGA tradeshow and convention a very important event for the company. NIGA 2019 was no exception, and Ainsworth showcased a number of new and highlighted slot products at its booth on the tradeshow floor. Mike Trask, director of product management and marketing for Ainsworth, met with Casino Journal Editor Paul Doocey at NIGA to discuss two of the company’s most popular product lines—Quick Spin and Pac-Man. What follows are some excerpts from this conversation. To hear this discussion in its entirety, visit www.casinojournal.com/media/podcasts
How has the NIGA show been for Ainsworth?
TRASK: NIGA is such a fun show for Ainsworth… more than 60 percent of our revenue tends to derive from tribal gaming of one sort or the other, so NIGA is also certainly one of our most important weeks of the year, both in terms of continuing to support the tribes across the U.S. and also for bringing out and showcasing some new products as well.
One of the product lines Ainsworth emphasized at its booth was the Quick Spin family of products. Why was that?
TRASK: Quick Spin has been a runaway success for us; over the past 12 months or so it has been our top performing one-cent game throughout North America and Canada. Here at NIGA, we are showcasing eight Quick Spin titles. We believe this is our key brand to grow; we have re-invested in it, even moving some R&D dollars over from other projects. We think it is really going to be the ticket for our continued success in the one-cent denom marketplace.
Super Charged 7s, which was nominated for a couple of awards earlier this year, has been out for about 12 months across the country. In the last couple of weeks we have introduced Super Lantern 8s and Super Crystal 7s, which are clones of the original game. Here at the show we are showing off Multiplay Super Charged 7s, which is a four-play version of the original game. We also have a couple of Class II versions.
But the real debut for us here at NIGA has been Super Turbo 7s; a linked progressive version of Super Charged 7s. We took the original math and game play from Super Charged 7s and linked machines together to create a larger jackpot. Across the industry, linked progressive have been very hot over the last couple of years. So it makes sense to take our player-favorite game and add a linked progressive to it. You will probably see that game for sale by the time G2E comes rolling around. We wanted to make sure we gave tribal operators the first look at it here in San Diego… feedback has been tremendous and we are excited to move forward with all the games in that brand.
Ainsworth has invested a lot of time and energy in its Pac-Man line of slot games. What new concepts has the company developed for it?
TRASK: We created Pac-Man in partnership with Bandai Namco and it has been great for us. We introduced a Pac-Man linked product at G2E that we are showing here at NIGA. It is four games, based on the Pac-Man ghosts Pinky, Inky, Blinky and Clyde. The four games are run off a mystery progressive so you have the four unique games experiences with each of the ghosts and a linked bonus that ties them all together. This will be our third through sixth titles in the Pac-Man family.
How much father will the Ainsworth go with new Pac-Man games?
TRASK: Well, the first two—Pac-Man Wild Edition and Pac-Man Dynamic Edition—did very well in the field and showcased some of our new game design capabilities and cabinets. The new linked product moves the game from a single to dual screen, the first time Pac-Man has been on this type of cabinet.
I think there is a runway here. Pac-Man is by far the most recognizable video game character of all time; this game has been out for 35 years, it is the icon of video games and it still continues to have a tremendous presence and pop culture awareness. The game play for us on the slot side has been tremendous. The games have actually been developed by a studio out of Japan, so the artwork, sounds and so on are based on the original Pac-Man.
Are there any other Bandai Namco-themed games Ainsworth is interested in pursuing?
TRASK: Our partnership with Bandai Namco gave us a chance to launch Galaga. We showcased that at G2E and it is here at NIGA as well… it is another of those premier, very recognizable arcade games. The graphics and the game play are right and we have put a lot of R&D dollars into it, as well as marketing and sales dollars, to get this product out. This game was approved by GLI in March and we are looking at the first couple of installs by April.
So there is still traction in developing arcade-themed games?
TRASK: For us, yes. We did a tremendous job branding the first Pac-Man… we literally wrapped the game in bright yellow to give it a look like the original arcade game, and, even on the casino floor, people recognized that. The second generation of the game has a similar kind of branding, although now we do have a couple of distinct sign packages to display the linked progressive. That recognition and feeling of fun combined with the game’s perfect demographic profile—Pac-Man came out in 1983 and those people that played it as teenagers are now at the prime age for spending time in casinos—makes us super excited about continuing the line.
In addition, all our Pac-Man products are also for sale to customers. I think that is a slight differentiation from what a lot of our competitors do. We have the capability to put it out these as a daily fee-type of lease product, but we decided to sell it outright. I think that is a pretty unique proposition for a lot of casinos—the ability to own a brand like Pac-Man and make it part of their core-gaming floor for years to come.
Mike Traskis director of product management and marketing for Las Vegas-based Ainsworth Game Technology. He can be reached at www.agtslots.com