In order to remain competitive in this multi-billion-dollar industry, game developers are being challenged to improve the gaming experience of players. Traditionally, a casino wants players who will sit down at a slot machine and play for hours, as this boosts the profit margin of the casino.
However, players today, specifically Millennials, are looking for a more engaging experience at the slot machines in order to invest both their time and money. Millennials are smarter, more knowledgeable and have grown up in the age of game consoles, social gaming and multimedia, ratcheting up competition between casinos to attract and retain players’ attention.
As a result of this need for a new and improved gaming experience, developers are implementing innovative technology to make slot machines bigger and better. For instance, to improve the visual spectacle, many casinos are adding larger, curved screens, while also increasing the number of screens per machine—some have as many as five now—to create a more engaging and immersive player experience in an attempt to grow revenue.
Additionally, the rise of i-gaming enables slot machines to have cross-platform content through an internet-based version of the game, which is accessible to players via a mobile device or tablet.
However, implementing these changes is no simple feat. Today’s gaming developers face a myriad of embedded hardware design challenges, slowing time-to-revenue and their ability to compete in a fast-paced digital gaming market. For starters, the casino gaming industry is a regulated market with overarching requirements for security and integrity of the hardware, together with the need for hardware to be available for a long production life. A common challenge with slot machines is to build a high-performing multimedia machine with components that offer embedded lifecycles and are designed for 24/7 operation.
One of the main reasons gaming developers look to embedded hardware is for its reliability and long production life. Traditionally, embedded hardware has meant lower performance compared to consumer technology solutions on the market. The challenge for suppliers has been to develop GPUs and CPUs that are high performance without sacrificing reliability and a long-life cycle. It’s imperative developers work with an experienced supplier of specialized gaming hardware in order to eliminate design risks.
There’s a wide breadth of general-purpose embedded components—platforms, boards, modules and more—that digital gaming developers can choose from to underpin their systems, and a host of suppliers eager to sell this generic hardware into any end application. However, this approach invites additional design complexity and expense later in the development cycle. A specialized, experienced supplier can avoid these issues and recommend components that have carefully cultivated feature sets specifically tailored to the regulated casino gaming industry.
Security and regulatory compliance are also acute challenges for casino gaming developers. This is in large part due to the variance of regulations across a multitude of different markets around the world. Luckily, there are some general commonalities across these requirements. For instance, deficiencies in physical anti-tamper, software integrity checking, secure boot controls and encryption could disqualify a game. However, with the right platform in place, these requirements can be addressed at the embedded processing and software layers.
In the past, hardware engineers designed and developed the slot machine computer boards. Now, manufacturers are using software engineers to upgrade the look and feel of games, as players are drawn more to the graphics. This is where embedded component suppliers come in to take on the hardware design and solutions, allowing manufacturers to focus on creating a more compelling game that will draw players in who will sit and play for hours.
A casino’s success will depend on developers’ abilities to assess and overcome current implementation challenges. It’s imperative that the right embedded hardware platform and expert supplier support are in place to maintain a competitive edge and reduce time-to-market with highly differentiated and visually stunning gaming systems.