As suppliers jockey to increase their market share, many have turned to quickly producing new variations of hardware as a solution. Indeed, long gone are the days where a supplier premiered two video reel cabinets—usually one slant and one upright—for each new operating system.
In the most recent EILERS-FANTINI Cabinet Performance Report, a study that aims to only highlight the hardware that is currently in a production cycle or supported by new software development, we analyzed over 60 new cabinets being supported in the market today. There are many trends that can be drawn from this report, but this article will focus on a very important one—the continued growth of portrait slot cabinets.
On a macro level, following major supplier consolidations, it was thought that manufacturers would continue to release one or two new cabinets every three years; but instead of four companies doing so (Bally, WMS, Spielo, and IGT) there would be a reduction to only two (Scientific Games and IGT). Operators feared this would lead to a lack of innovation and a dull casino floor. Fortunately this was not the case… in addition to smaller suppliers capitalizing on the restricting of these major companies by gaining ship share, a new operating system—referred to as a “brainbox” by some—has led to various new form factors for slot cabinets.
At Eilers & Krejcik Gaming we divide these various form factors into eight segmentations: portrait, dual- screen upright, slant, large top box, mechanical reel, jumbo, premium reel and premium video. In particular, the portrait slot cabinet stands out from among these segmentations. From cell phones to TVs and computer monitors, portrait screens have become prevalent in everyday life, and they are spanning across slot floors as well. Portrait slot cabinets currently dominate all others in performance. The top core cabinets are led by the Helix Xt, TwinStar J43, CrystalCurve, Orion Portrait, Infinity V55, Muso Curve 43 and KX 43. These seven cabinets are now their respective suppliers’ primary performing cabinet and the portrait cabinets tracked in the latest report included seven other units.
This trend toward portrait cabinet dominance is further supported by our Game Performance Database (GPD), where core portrait cabinets outperform dual-screen uprights by nearly 20 percent (1.39x to 1.20x vs zone average) and top slant cabinets by a greater margin (1.39x to 1.09x vs zone average).
Looking further into the portrait segment and focusing trends within individual cabinet performance, we see that the Helix Xt leads in the most recent quarter (2Q19) but has traded this top rank with the J43 multiple times in the past six months. While the Xt and J43 trade the top rank, their competition has eaten into each cabinets’ individual performance creating steady decline for each in overall index vs zone average.
Meanwhile, suppliers are introducing their interpretations of portrait slot cabinets with success. AGS launched itself into the limelight with the Orion Portrait, which tracks more units in the GPD than the CrystalCurve and Empire MPX. Aruze’s Muso Curve 43 is starting strong with an average index of 1.66x over its first four months and the Konami Kx 43 has continued to improve over its first few months, even with Konami holding two other cabinets in the segment—the Concerto Crescent and Concerto Stack. Incredible Technologies skipped the 43-inch screen altogether with what they consider to be their core portrait cabinet, the Infinity V55.
High performance drives sales, which was prevalent when analyzing purchase trends in a reoccurring quarterly section published in our Cabinet Performance Report and shown on the previous page.
In the first quarter of this year, we estimated that the portrait format accounted for 77 percent of the purchased games in the GPD with only 15 percent being dual-screen and 3 percent for slants. The second quarter followed consistently with portrait comprising 72 percent. In any consumer-driven industry, high-performance and quality products drive more sales and increase customer satisfaction.
However not every portrait cabinet is a success. Hardware alone cannot survive and does not drive increased sales. The Aristocrat Helix Xt had somewhat of a softer launch when the now almost extinct Buffalo Max was released as its inaugural title. The Konami Concerto Crescent, IGT’s CrystalCurve and Ainsworth’s A640 all started slow until the supplier’s released new themes with intriguing game mechanics.
We continue to expect the portrait format to dominate purchase trends and gain existing share although the slot business remains extremely cyclical, especially when it comes to cabinet performance. For now though, the portrait trend is here and an end doesn’t yet seem to be in sight.