Well, another Global Gaming Expo (G2E) is in the books and, as per usual, the three-day event was chock-full of informative sessions, entertaining network opportunities and memorable keynote presentations.

Attendees searching out cutting-edge slot concepts were not disappointed—manufacturer booths on the tradeshow floor were rife with new persistence and progressive game mechanics, technologically advanced cabinets, eye-catching display systems and new and expanded slot game families. What follows is are some game and cabinet highlights from various G2E vendors that garnered the attention of  Slot Management & Marketing editors.

DISPLAY ARRAY

As one slot machine developer told me while touring a booth at G2E, “the display technology arms race shows no sign of slowing down.” Indeed, every major slot machine company on the G2E tradeshow floor showcased signage that was taller, wider, larger, more uniquely shaped or of higher resolution than they had previously offered. One notable example was from Aristocrat Technologies, which displayed its Canopy Arc prototype, in which two slot cabinets are connected via an overhead curved display screen to create a vertical 180-degree gaming experience. The overhead screen of Arc Canopy will eventually be involved in certain aspects of the slot games being played on the machines, according to Jon Hanlin, vice president gaming operations to Aristocrat.

Incredible Technologies (IT) is no stranger to innovative slot display solutions, and at this year’s G2E it showcased the latest configurations for its Infinity V55 Edge 4K Video Wedges, which allow for unique slot bank shapes the company is calling Pinwheel, Flying V and Diamond. These cohesive and modern product merchandising solutions for casino floors perform 20 percent higher than standard V55 banks, according to company literature.

IT also launched two new form factors for its core Infinity V55 cabinets—Infinity Pilot and Infinity Summit. Infinity Pilot integrates two angled 4K portrait monitors on either side of the 55-inch 4K center display, providing a completely immersive and individual gaming experience that reshapes the floor with new never-before-seen bank configurations including the Dogbone and Gear. The Infinity Summit takes core gaming to new heights with the addition of an angled 4K display above the 55-inch center display used for integrated bonus features, progressives and attract-mode graphics across multiple screens in a linked bank.

AGS was also active on the slot display front, putting its Starwall concept center stage in its booth. Starwall is a new LED video display for its premium Orion Portrait games, designed to add floor-wide attraction and deliver a more immersive game-play experience. Composed of brilliant LED lights that create a seamless video wall, the Starwall envelops the player in the game and attracts players passing by with cinematic, game-themed motion graphics that intensify the player experience, according to press materials.

Everi also made news in the display space by showing its new Empire Flex video platform, which consists of a 49-inch flexed display on top of the company’s popular Empire MPX base. Empire Flex offers eye-popping 4K content, industry-unique flexible integrated light bars, and a larger enhanced glass button deck, according to press materials. Expected to hit casino floors in the first half of 2020, the Empire Flex was shown with 14 unique themes including four games for the new Beast series, which features different majestic and ferocious beasts. Beast series games give players 1,024 different ways to win with 4K visual engagement and innovative horizontal expanding reels. Wicked Wheel Panda and Wicked Wheel Fire Phoenix feature a video wheel bonus round with random multipliers and nudges, creating an incredible amount of anticipation for players.

Novomatic’s contribution to the G2E display scene was Samurai Beauty, a large-scale installation that featured 2x3 V.I.P. Lounge Curve 1.43 cabinets propped against a double-sided 4x3 LED screen video wall featuring game-specific, choreographed content for a high-visibility game presentation.

Aruze gaming was also active in the gaming display space with its Mad Mountain Riches, a wall-banked slot machine concept that features linked games with a unique community bonus—a very large volcano that occasionally talks and loudly erupts with lava that can transform wild symbols on players’ screens. This game is part of Aruze’s Activ-Play series of non-traditional slot games.

CABINET CONCEPTS

It’s not an exaggeration to say most major slot companies showcased multiple new cabinets at G2E 2019, so much so that it’s hard to believe there was actually a time when launching a new gaming platform was actually a rare event.

Konami was one of the companies featuring a new video slot cabinet, equipped with a 49-inch 4K Ultra HD (UHD) display and designed with a “J” curve for an improved player viewing experience. Engineered from the ground up, the Horizon 49J’s streamlined frame and custom merchandising options deliver entertainment over a wide variety of potential placement areas on the casino floor, according to support materials.

Horizon 49J is the launch pad for a rich library of 4K UHD Konami game content, designed to maximize moment-by-moment excitement and anticipation for players. One attention-grabbing game was Silent Hill, a popular video game from the 1990s/2000s that Konami has transformed into a suspenseful video slot game.  This debut series includes linked progressive jackpots, multiple bonus adventures and an unforgettable Stay & Spin feature.

“Horizon 49J will be a new family of games for us as we move forward,” said Greg Colella, vice president product management for Konami Gaming. “We wanted to move into more of a premium product… with a modular cabinet design which would allow us to more rapidly introduce new cabinet and game configurations in the future.” 

Scientific Games also displayed a number of new slot cabinets, including the Wave XL Horizon, which features a bottom 49-inch curved display combined with a massive 65-inch concave screen. Both of these elements feature 4K resolution and are synched so visual game elements can move across both screens. The cabinets were shown in two- and four-unit configuration and with a JAMES BOND launch game. The company also unveiled its new TwinStar Spinner, which includes a rather unique piece of hardware—an actual  reel incorporated into the upper portion of the cabinet that players can physically spin for prizes during bonus round events.

The IGT also used G2E as a launch party for its new Peak Slant cabinet, which features a curved format with a 49-inch, 4K resolution screen, improved button deck and a phone charger. The launch games for the cabinet are Scarab Grand, a linked version of the popular Scarab brand that includes multi-level progressive jackpots, and the new Wheel of Fortune Mystery Edition.

Eclipse Gaming, which has undergone a complete management overhaul in the last year, came to G2E armed with three new gaming cabinets for the Class II marketplace—the Impact 43, Impact 43 Dual and the Impact 27. The Impact 43 features an upright cabinet with a 43-inch portrait monitor, the 43 Dual has two 43-inch displays while Impact 27 contains three 27-inch screens. “We are introducing 10 new game titles for this machines this year and have 20 more in the pipeline,” said Orrin J. Edidin, president and chief business officer for Eclipse Gaming. “These cabinets are well-built, solid and reliable, and will help operators differentiate their slot floors.”

AGS also set space aside in its booth for multiple new introductions for its Orion cabinet family—the Orion Rise tower platform and the Orion 49C featuring a curved portrait display.

The Orion Rise delivers eight feet of gaming excitement in a dual-screen portrait platform, highlighted by a 55-inch 4K LCD monitor, premium button deck, custom audio, and game-synchronized LED spacer displays—all of which provide an immersive, cinematic game-play experience, according to press materials. At G2E, the Orion Rise housed exclusive game content Wheel Surge and Dragon’s Jackpot.

The premium Orion 49C, AGS’ first curved platform, features a 49-inch 4K curved, portrait LCD display, digital topper, and premium LCD button deck integrated with low-profile dual PLAY buttons surrounded by lights. At G2E, the Orion 49C featured exclusive new titles Sacred Dragon and Royal Phoenix.

Both cabinets feature AGS’ signature U-shaped lighting design with more than 400 game-synchronized LED lights that celebrate wins and change colors throughout the game-play experience.

Aristocrat was another slot provider that launched a new slot platform at G2E 2019—the MarsX cabinet. Sleek, modern, and inventive, the MarsX cabinet sparks a revolution in game floor layout, according to a press release. Leading the MarsX charge is the all-new Buffalo Gold Revolution which integrates progressive jackpots into the Buffalo Gold brand for the first time and adds an energetic wheel bonus to the mix. Dollar Storm is an exciting lease option for MarsX. Dollar Storm is the highly anticipated fusion of two popular Aristocrat products, Lightning Link and Dragon Link, with an added MSP that can be won by any player, on any bet at any time.

SKILL SETS

A number of slot manufacturers continue to tinker with skill-based gaming, introducing new products with evolved game mechanics that better appeal to a new generation of slot players and casino operators.

Scientific Games dipped into the skill market with Gold Fish Frenzy—a pachinko-like slot game with a very unique play mechanic. The play field for the game consists of a giant, upright screen studded with pegs much like a pachinko machine. A mechanical lift shoots a ball up to the top of the screen and moves it to the left and right across the playing field. It is up to the player to strategically drop the ball with the hope of getting it to move through the pegs and land in a fishbowls of different values with different 3D fish represented on them. “It is a total skill-based experience in that the player can control where the ball drops—letting it go to the right or left of a certain peg may give the ball a better chance of landing in a fishbowl with a high value,” said Catheryn Lai, senior vice president products and marketing for Scientific Games. “It adds a fun, arcade-like experience to the slot floor since it is so simple—you push a button, the ball drops, it lands in a fishbowl and there is a celebration. It has garnered a lot of interest from visitors to the booth.” 

Outside of Scientific Games, most of the innovation and new products in the skill games space primarily came from smaller manufacturers dedicated to the market segment. For example, Next Gaming, a leader in creating skill-based slot experiences from classic arcade-style games, showcased Bust-A -Move Adventure at its G2E booth. The classic game takes on an entirely new style of play while keeping the lovable characters, Bub and Bob, within the story line and also adding their girlfriends, Peb and Pab to the BAM family, according to press materials. The company also announced it is adding Centipede from Atari and Space Invaders and Bubble Bobble from Taito to its family of games.

GameCo also came to G2E with an armload of new games and concepts for its video gambling machines (VGMs). To start, the company unveiled Katana, a new cabinet that features an ultra-high-definition 42-inch 4K screen, premium sound system and other features which combine to provide players with an unparalleled interactive gaming and gambling experience, according to press materials. GameCo’s Match 3 slot game line showcased two new titles—Mystery of the Secret Temple and Destination Tiki. Both these games resolve the low spin rate associated with previous versions of skill games by making more moves in the games a wager, a new mechanic that creates a wager every three or four seconds, allowing the games to perform above house average. Other new game introductions included Star Trek: Deep Space Nine-Red Alert, a space defense game and Terminator 2: Judgment Day first-person action game.

GameCo also dedicated a separate booth space on the G2E floor for its Multiplayer Arena concept, which highlighted games such as SOULCALIBUR II: Casino Edition and All-Star Hoops! In this concept, players have the chance to go head-to-head in tournaments and competitions for a new and exciting way to play and socialize on the casino floor. “The Multiplayer Arena allows people to play our games in three different ways,” said Jared Torres, head of product development for GameCo. “They can play against the machine, elect to challenge someone else on another machine and play head to head, or participate in tournament mode against everyone else in the Arena.”

Synergy Blue, a producer of arcade-style, skill-influenced games, displayed new content built on the company’s hybrid arcade wager-based gaming (HAWG) solution, blending regulatory compliant, skill-influenced, Class II and Class III gambling with the uninterrupted entertainment of arcade and mobile style play, providing unique entertainment offerings for a burgeoning demographic. These games were available in a large-format VGM2 cabinet or a standard-width slant top cabinet and are offered in a multi-game configuration, allowing casino guests to choose from seven titles.

Shortly after G2E, Synergy Blue announced that it has been officially approved for statewide rollout in Nevada and will go through field trial phases at two Stations Casinos properties—The Palms and Red Rocks Casinos. The trial will debut a variety of Synergy Blue games to the Las Vegas market via an initial placement of real-money, arcade gambling machines.

“We’re very excited to introduce our games to the Las Vegas market and to be working with Stations Casinos,” said Georg Washington, CEO of Synergy Blue. “This agreement marks a key milestone for our company and the Las Vegas market, as we work together to progress the industry with engaging new experiences.”

THEME MACHINES

Licensed slot content may not be as popular among operators and players as it once was, but new licensed game prototypes still abounded across the G2E tradeshow floor. IGT continued to add to its family of licensed games based on popular TV game shows. The company’s top preforming Wheel of Fortune franchise welcomed new titles such as Wheel of Fortune 4D More Money and Wheel of Fortune 4D Wheelmobile. Both titles leverage IGT’s TRUE 4D technology to give players an immersive gaming experience unlike any other, according to press materials. Building on the success of Wheel of Fortune Cash Link, the company will debut two new base games including Ruby Riches and Shimmering Sapphires. Attendees also experienced the latest Wheel of Fortune title on the CrystalWheel Stepper cabinet with Wheel of Fortune Gold Spin Deluxe.

IGT also displayed new titles including Jeopardy! and $25,000 Pyramid, both housed on the large-format Megatower Universal cabinet. These standout games join a growing family of gameshow-themed IGT titles such as The Price is Right Showcase Showdown, The Price is Right Video Slots on the CrystalCurve ULTRA cabinet, and The Price is Right Plinko Slots on the CrystalDual+Stepper.

“We are being very strategic on the licenses we acquire now,” said Dallas Orchard, chief product officer gaming for IGT. “We want to make sure the license can be franchised and developed across multiple games and multiple hardware configurations. TV game shows really lend themselves well to this, they provide lots of materials and assets our game designers can leverage across multiple platforms.”

Everi also continued to enhance its lineup of licensed offerings, which includes Monsterverse, featuring Kong and Godzilla in 4K game play on the company’s new Empire DCX cabinet. Monsterverse offers the Monster Bet that dares players to bet big and play four arrays at once.  Two additional games, The Mask, based on New Line Cinema’s 1994 hit comedy, and The Karate Kid, based on the popular feature film franchise that debuted in 1984, were also on display at G2E and will be out on casino floors in late 2019. The Empire DCX cabinet includes dual curved 43-inch horizontal monitors with integrated edge lighting and enhanced game-controlled lighting, a 4K display that provides an immersive player experience, and premium 4.1 surround sound, according to press materials.

Scientific Games also continued to be a major player in licensed product, debuting new games that included WILLY WONKA Everlasting Gobstopper on the Gamefield 2.0 cabinet; JAMES BOND DIE ANOTHER DAY on Wave XL Horizon; and MONOPOLY Big Wheel Railroads on TwinStar 3RM Wheel. The company also showcased a prototype slot game based on the popular The Hobbit movie franchise.

Aristocrat also had its fair share of new licensed slot introductions, led by the latest iteration of its popular Game of Thrones franchise—Game of Thrones-Winter is Here, housed on its EDGE X cabinet. Also on Edge X were new licensed games based on the movie Mad Max: Fury Road and the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Aristocrat, in partnership with Warner Bros, Consumer Products, also unveiled a new slot based on the movie Crazy Rich Asians. The Crazy Rich Asians slot game will be a heavily themed game featuring sights and sounds from the 2018 blockbuster hit.