Stepper slots have changed significantly over time, incorporating new technologies and features to help keep loyal customers engaged and to attract new players as well.
While reel-style slots may not be as prevalent as they once were in the 1990s or even the early 2000s, there still remains a market with a demand for new content. And as long as there is a market and demand, slot manufactures keep reel slot innovation on the front burner.
Although 2020 has been an unsteady year at best when it comes to the casino business, manufacturers report they are not seeing any significant change in stepper slot popularity. Indeed, executives at Scientific Games have noted that “hardcore” gamblers comprise the core of people returning to casino to engage in machine play, and the games of choice among this group remain “gambler-oriented” concepts such as high-denomination, reel-based slots. The end result: old-school reel slot machines appear to be gaining in popularity.
Meanwhile, Everi noted that its gaming products, including the company’s three-reel mechanical themes, continue to reflect a return to the performance momentum it was achieving before COVID-mandated casino shutdowns, which is evidenced by the better-than-expected results the company reported in the second quarter of 2020. Everi executives believe that these results are due in part to prior investments it made in technology innovations and game development through the strong performance of its installed base of recurring revenue games.
Below you will find the latest reel slot games and innovations from Everi and Scientific Games—evidence as to why they are among the leaders in this gaming machine segment—in addition to some other recent gaming company news involving stepper machines.
Cash Machine Jackpots and Gold Standard Jackpots from Everi
Everi’s expanding library of three-reel mechanical themes are reportedly the result of the deep understanding of the classic reels slot player and its measured approach in game design—creating themes with simple game play, enticing upside, familiar mechanics and clear pay tables. Everi’s math-first focus places priority on the player and their personal experience with the game. This understanding is derived from years of research that includes player interviews and walkaway player testing, enabling the company to continue to deliver world-class stepper content.
The popularity of conventional reel spinner games is due in part to the traditional mechanical players who are an extremely loyal audience. These players have specific preferences when it comes to three-reel mechanical slots—simple game play, familiar mechanics and clear pay tables. Everi believes it’s important to keep these elements in mind when developing new themes and mechanics.
The player-popular lock-and-respin feature, which is common in video slots, was incorporated into two of the company’s latest mechanical themes—Diamond Lock Ruby and Diamond Lock Sapphire—while still maintaining those core elements stepper players appreciate. These are linked progressive games that feature a unique lock-and-respin mechanic that Everi believes will appeal to not only the traditional mechanical player, but to a broader audience as well.
Cash Machine Jackpots and Gold Standard Jackpots are another small-step innovation that extends the company’s Win What You See mechanic to the high-denomination premium stepper space. These games combine the simplicity found in the original Cash Machine game with a mechanical wheel top box.
No doubt that Everi had a robust lineup for this year’s virtual Global Gaming Expo (G2E), with its recently released and upcoming stepper titles including Triple Double Patriot and Triple Double Gems on Skyline with frequent, lucrative multiplier action and Cash Machine Jackpots and Gold Standard Jackpots on Skyline Revolve. Cash Machine Jackpots and Gold Standard Jackpots are based on the three-reel mechanical game Cash Machine that combines the Win What You See gameplay with the win potential of a mechanical wheel top box. Diamond Lock Ruby and Diamond Lock Sapphire pair the classic stepper with innovative reels and top box bonuses showcasing the popular lock and respin feature.
Reels O’Dublin is one of the latest Hot Hot Super Jackpot games from Scientific Games.
Scientific Games (SG) is heavily invested in driving innovation across all of its product lines, including reel-style slots. With the company’s TwinStar mechanical reel cabinets, Scientific Games states that it has concentrated on the most impactful technologies while maintaining a more traditional feel and that it has focused on reel mechanism assemblies, using the latest in RGB LED lighting, both front-facing and symbol backlighting, creating a comfortable high-contrast presentation that optimizes the player experience. The company has adapted the highest resolution displays with more readable messaging, added state-of-the-art motor/driver technology, which provides a smoother reel rotation with a more mechanical feel, and other back-end technologies that ensure the best reliability and highest performance in the category.
With such innovation, it is no surprise that Scientific Games is a global leader in the gaming industry with more than 85 years of market-leading products, which include a proven history of high-performing reel slots in both three-reel and five-reel form factors. Through its acquired companies Bally and WMS, there exists an incredible legacy of brands that extend throughout both for sale and premium categories. They include classics like Blazing 7s, Quick Hit, Hot Hot Super Jackpot, Monte Carlo and Reel’em In, to name just a few, along with more contemporary high performers, such as 88 Fortunes and the like.
Scientific Games feels strongly that players still love stepper games and the game performance numbers are indeed proving it. One example of this is the success of 88 Fortunes stepper game, one of the company’s highest performing titles, showcased on the TwinStar 3RM. Scientific Games noted that approximately 25-30 percent of its game library consists of mechanical reel games and it plans to continue to produce new titles in the future, showcased on mechanical reel cabinets that incorporate new and cutting-edge innovations.
At the virtual Global Gaming Expo, this year, within the five-reel mechanical segment, Scientific Games showcased Hot Hot Super Jackpot—Reels O’Dublin and Hot Hot Super Jackpot—Double Easy Money, which marks the return of two classic WMS themes. Both games have a new twist and are available on the company’s new TwinStar 5RM platform.
SG also stated that it is bringing the Locked & Loaded mechanic to the reel slot platform with Mystical Mushroom and Pirate Queen. In the Premium Game Ops segment, the company plans to highlight its brand new TwinStar 3RM With Wheel cabinet launching with MONOPOLY and ELVIS branded games. Each game showcases two new themes: MONOPOLY Big Wheel Railroads—2x3x4x and Wild Chance, and Elvis Presley in Viva Las Vegas—Viva Wilds and Viva 7’s.
Last, but not least, is SG’s new Class II version of Quick Hit Super Wheel on the standard TwinStar 3RM form factor.
IGT showcased several advancements to its S3000 mechanical reel line at the recent virtual G2E event.
International Game Technology PLC (IGT) has long been an active player in the stepper slot space; and as an industry leader in mechanical spinning-reel games, IGT understands that every detail matters to high-denomination players. To continue looking forward and producing industry-best results, the company focused countless hours creating and improving its S3000 mechanical reel cabinet experience. The S3000 gaming machine provides players with all of their favorite games, which include the traditional and familiar game play mechanics they love, complemented with a dash of modern technology to enhance and reinforce their experience and devotion, according to press materials.
That said, IGT player research revealed that high-denomination players show an affinity for the company’s older S2000 gaming machine. Looking to the past for inspiration, IGT has incorporated those legacy elements that high-denomination players enjoy most about the S2000 cabinet into its new and improved S3000 Classic cabinet. Two new games for the cabinet line were showcased at the recent virtual G2E event—Triple Jackpot Jewels and Hot Hit Wheel Blaze.
IGT has also recently introduced the S3000 XL gaming machine, which brings a larger-than-life gaming experience to the mechanical reel slot. This large format cabinet immerses players like never before with its enlarged display and extended touchscreen over wide mechanical reels. Its wide presence demands attention on any floor and offers players ultimate comfort with an extra foot and a half of personal space. The S3000 XL cabinet boasts a successful game library that allows operators to magnify new and nostalgic spinning-reel titles that players seek.
Spin Big Mardi Gras and Spin Big Galaxy concepts from Eclipse Gaming
With a core focus on the Native American gaming space as well as select commercial and international gaming markets, Eclipse Gaming develops best-in-class products that drive deeper player engagement and powerful results.
When it comes to reel slot concepts, Eclipse has recently upped its game. For example, the company’s top performing Super Slots of Cash series now has two new super-charged game themes—Bull Booster Deluxe and Buck Booster Deluxe. These classic three-reel, one-line games create a stampede with a top progressive jackpot and wild multipliers. No additional wager is required to initiate the respin feature that retriggers the third wheel, giving players a second chance to win or win bigger.
Eclipse is also introducing Spin Big Mardi Gras and Spin Big Galaxy dazzle with vivid imagery and an attention-grabbing, oversized prize wheel. Classic symbols on a three-reel configuration offer plenty of ways to celebrate, along with an entertaining pick bonus, multiple progressives and a free spin bonus. The party starts when the bonus wheel is triggered from the third reel and the player is awarded with credits, free spins or even one of enticing progressive jackpots.