I spent the three days of G2E visiting upwards of 35-40 booths on the tradeshow floor. I’m sure this sounds either insane or inane to people who are tied down serving their company booth, but for me it is actually quite invigorating—the constant pace and movement required to keep such an expansive schedule beats standing in a single booth or sitting behind a desk for G2E week, at least in my mind.
Another advantage of this nonstop booth visitation is that I get to compare and contrast a wide array of slot products from manufacturers both large and small. What I noticed much more at this show than in years past were, for want of better words, quirky, off-the-beaten-path games and concepts with unique game mechanics that appealed to the whimsical side of my personality. Let me describe a few to you:
Gold Fish Frenzy—Scientific Games
Gold Fish Frenzy, Scientific Games’ latest foray into the skill-based slot market, is centered on a rather low-tech concept—pachinko. But the pachinko-inspired game is very well conceived and visually entertaining. Simply stated, Gold Fish Frenzy 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. The skill element is in the ball drop, since placing the ball to the left or right of a peg could ultimately determine if it lands in a high-denomination fishbowl or any fishbowl at all. Catheryn Lai, senior vice president products and marketing for Scientific Games, said it all when she described the game as refreshingly simple, “You push a button, the ball drops, it lands in a fishbowl and there is a celebration.”
Canopy Arc—Aristocrat Technologies
At this stage really more of a display concept than a game, the Canopy Arc consists of two slot cabinets that are connected via an overhead curved display screen to create a visually stunning vertical 180-degree gaming experience. Jon Hanlin, vice president of gaming operation for Aristocrat, described Canopy Arc as a prototype, and said that if it gathered enough interest, the company would produce games that would play across the machine displays and incorporate the overhead screens.
Zoltar-themed mechanical-reel slot machines—Everi
The resurgence of mechanical-reel games is nothing short of fascinating to me. I cut my teeth in this industry when video slots were just starting to take over the casino floor, and I thought there was no way players would ever go back to the concept. But they have, thanks in large part to slot manufacturers who have re-invigorated spinning reel games with improved technologies and unique game mechanics. There were many examples of these improved machines at G2E, but among my favorites were Zoltar 5X Pay and Zoltar Triple Jackpot premium mechanical-reel banks from Everi. The branding with Zoltar, an all-knowing animatronic fortune-telling machine from Characters Unlimited that has starred in a number of commercials of late, resonated with me.
This is just a taste of the innovations present in vendor booths across the G2E showfloor. I highly recommend seeing for yourself at future G2Es. Make sure you wear sensible shoes.