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Aristocrat Gaming

Aristocrat’s game development reaches new heights in quality and quantity

Aristocrat Gaming

At any given time, watchers of the worldwide slot market can look at industry performance reports and be sure of one thing: Aristocrat will invariably be at the top.

Aristocrat Gaming, the slot-supply unit of Australia’s Aristocrat Leisure Limited, typically has several games among the top 10 performers in the monthly Eilers-Fantini Game Performance Report and other top revenue-generators lists, having resided there for many years. The company just won its third straight award as Best Overall Supplier in the Eilers & Krejcic Slot Awards.

But there’s been no pause to polish trophies. Aristocrat continues to double down on its leading position, pumping out a remarkable quantity of games. This production will be plainly evident at the Global Gaming Expo, where the company will show more new games than ever before, including a new premium cabinet and the first NFL-themed games. The NFL-themed slot machines, announced in April and expected to hit casino floors in 2023, will offer fans the ability to customize their experiences based on their favorite team.

“Our biggest focus for G2E is our investment in our players, and casinos,” says Jon Hanlin, Aristocrat’s senior vice president, commercial strategy & business analytics. “We’ve been on a journey the last couple of years investing in D&D, through what was a tough time for the industry in the global pandemic. And this G2E is the culmination of that effort.”

For the first time, this year Aristocrat’s G2E booth will feature 100 percent new product on the for-sale side. “Every game that we will show in game sales will be brand new; no customer has ever seen them before,” Hanlin says. “Similarly on the gaming ops and Class II sides, 70 percent of what we will show this year is brand new.”

The wealth of new product, he says, is the result of continuous investment in game development, and capitalizing on what has worked in the market. In fact, popular game mechanics like hold-and-spin and cash on reels can be traced to Aristocrat, and groundbreaking games like Lightning Link and Dragon Link.

“Our product is performing very well in the market, and we’re very proud of that fact,” Hanlin says. “That’s because we have the greatest game design talent in the world, and G2E is an event to show off that talent and what they have created for our customers. Every year at G2E, we have what our customers tell us is the best product in the world presented by the best salespeople in the world. And this year, the booth is about showcasing our commitment to delivering great products for our customers, in product development and performance.”

There will be new cabinets, brand evolutions in the industry’s top-performing game families such as Buffalo and Lighting Link, and a wealth of totally new game families which, as Hanlin says, will “make casino operators feel like they’re getting maximum value for every dollar that they spend with Aristocrat.”

“We have 11 worldwide game studios developing more than 100 games annually for the North American market alone, and we have never slowed down,” says Sony Syamala, Aristocrat’s vice president, commercial strategy and game sales. “We are super excited to bring such a massive portfolio of games that are absolutely brand new, and that we expect are going to perform well.”

Ryan Scott, vice president of commercial strategy and gaming operations for Aristocrat, adds that half of those games will be approved before or just after the show, and the others will be approved in the early months of 2023. “We don’t want to show customers products they can’t have,” Scott says. “Operators want to plan their year, and we’re going to show them a ton of new games they can have before they step foot in our booth again. Ultimately, this portfolio will help to further cement Aristocrat as the partner of choice, as we lead the way forward with great new content.”

Many Forms

That content will take on many forms, as Aristocrat has a variety of cabinet styles to match its variety in games. Last year, the company previewed the giant Cinema cabinet, featuring an 86-inch 4K HD monitor, with the player’s seat behind a separate game console in front of the giant screen. According to Scott, the massive cabinet will trial launch in November beginning with Buffalo Diamond Extreme. Full release is expected in February 2023.

For the past two years, the Neptune Double, with its stacked 49-inch curved monitors, ergonomic viewing angles and custom chair, has dominated the gaming ops space. This year, Aristocrat launches the Neptune Single, with all the graphics and game horsepower of the Double but with a more location-versatile single 48-inch curved monitor.

G2E 2022 is something of a coming-out party for the Neptune Single cabinet, which will span both the gaming ops and for-sale game groups. “Last year, we showcased the first three games,” Hanlin says. “This year, we will showcase the next eight games on the cabinet. We’re excited to show the full depth and breadth of that portfolio.”

Hanlin equates the Neptune Single to a “movie theater experience,” its curved screen providing an easy, entertaining session. “There is no better viewing experience for spinning-reel slots than this cabinet,” he says.

On the gaming ops side, the launch game family for Neptune Single is Jackpot Carnival, a festive game group with player-selectable multi-denominations that includes clever free-game features like a hammer smash, a clown and several other carnival themes. Inaugural base games include Buffalo, Timber Wolf and Power of 88, with a base game that has stacked reveals.

Other lease options on the Neptune Single include Tarzan Link, a premium, two-game series that combines the player-favorite Tarzan with Aristocrat’s Hold & Spin mechanic; and Lightning Buffalo Link, designed by Hall of Fame game developer Scott Olive, who created the venerable Lighting Link.

Lightning Buffalo Link combines Dollar Storm’s rapid-hitting, $50,000 multi-site progressive with the successful Buffalo Link product, a game that introduced the player-favorite Dragon Link Hold & Spin Feature to the iconic Buffalo brand. Lightning Buffalo Link also comes with a jackpot mechanic to trigger the $50,000 multi-site progressive.

On the for-sale side, Neptune Single will host a new version of Wonder 4, the popular game setup that presents four separate reel arrays on which the player can wager simultaneously. In this case, they are Buffalo, Black Panther, Fire Light II, and Pompeii.

“Buffalo is a brand that continues to evolve and get better,” says Hanlin of what many consider the most popular slot brand in the world. “It’s built on a solid foundation of one of the best mechanics and one of the best math models in the world.”

“Wonder 4 has been a great game for us, regardless of which cabinet we release it on,” says Syamala. “It’s always performed very well.” The new version of Wonder 4 features a persistent free-game collection feature. “You are collecting free games as you play, and when the free-game feature triggers, it can be up to 100 free games,” Syamala says. “It is a great reward for the players.”

Also on the Neptune Single is a rare for-sale licensed game, Zorro.

“It’s a game that we’ve released online in social casinos under a different title, and we’ve gotten massive player adoption,” says Hanlin. “So, we think pairing that brand with a proven math model is going to be fantastic. And it’s a premium title that’s for sale.”

“We are using an innovative mechanic in Zorro that worked well in our digital world,” adds Syamala. “We have a massive presence in digital, so we use our digital presence and seek the feedback of our 8.1 million daily active users, and then test out some of the mechanics for our land-based games.”

Finally, for sale on the Neptune Single will be Timber Wolf Chief, a game that has been out for around two years that combines the features of Timber Wolf and Buffalo Chief.

More New Cabinets, More New Games

Of course, the Neptune Single is not alone in hosting new games for Aristocrat. On the imposing Neptune Double, the company will show Buffalo Grand Deluxe, a follow-up to Buffalo Grand that adds frequent multipliers to that game’s wheel bonus, a higher bet structure (100-1,000 credits), and a bonus wheel with a 20X multiplier wedge. It features a $500,000 wide-area progressive.

“Internally, we’ve called it comfort food—something players keep returning to for comfort,” says Scott. “Buffalo Grand was one of those that players gravitate toward, so we’re going to give them an evolved experience where the players will have more multipliers with that same great Buffalo Grand wheel.”

Whales of Cash Ultimate Jackpots, the first use of the Whales of Cash character in the gaming ops space, features wild multipliers, a $10,000 linked progressive and a unique progressive free-game feature. Players can choose the volatility of the progressive free-game feature.

Also on the Neptune Double is Chief Platinum, an evolution of the Buffalo Chief title that features stacked multipliers, expanding wild multipliers, and free games with multipliers of up to 8X.

On the MarsX Portrait, the company will highlight three games—Lucky’s Wild Inferno, an entertaining wheel game with a fun devil character; Triple Supreme Extreme, using a triple metamorphic feature; and Iron Horse, a new locomotive-themed game brand from the same game studio that produced the original Buffalo and Cash Express Gold Class. “This game has been in the making for many years,” says Syamala. “This studio is one of our most creative studios—they don’t aim for quantity. They create only one or two games per year, and those games are really good. So, we have high hopes for the game.”

Firelight Eruption is a new game on the MarsX Portrait. “We took our original Firelight game and enhanced it with all the on-trend mechanics, like expanding reels and persistence,” says Syamala.

Also on the MarsX Portrait is Cash Express Mega Line, a lease game which presents four Cash Express themes in separate reel arrays, as in Wonder 4. “Players get to pick which Cash Express theme they’d like to play,” Scott says. “They can play four at a time in hopes of hitting the Mega Line, the common bonus feature.”

On the new MarsX Flex “large top box” cabinet—it features a 55-inch screen above the main game screen—two key titles will be featured at the show, the first being Buffalo Strike, the first Buffalo-themed game to include a community-style bonus event.

On the MarsX Dual Screen cabinet is Cashman Double Bingo. It is the existing Cashman Bingo with a persistent feature added on two separate bingo cards, called “bingo boards,” which collect cash-on-reels awards and pay them off when they form a bingo pattern.

“Each time a bingo pattern is hit on the original Cashman Bingo, it resets, giving the opportunity for players to walk away saying, ‘I already hit the bingo and have to build up the bingo board again,’” Syamala explains. “With Cashman Double Bingo, you may hit one, but then you will have another one still almost filled with one or two patterns ready to hit.”

Class in Class II

For the Class II game lineup from Aristocrat’s VGT subsidiary, the company is implementing its premium RELM XL five-reel stepper cabinet. New Class II games on the RELM XL will include a $100,000 multi-site progressive Super Hits Frenzy link, and a five-reel version of the game that has been the company’s No. 1 video title in Class II, Hunt for Neptune’s Gold.

“It’s the top game by a large margin,” Scott says of Neptune’s Gold. “It’s been the No. 1 Class II video title as long as I can remember. So, we’re going to bring that experience to premium stepper hardware.”

Also in the Class II space will be Silver Dollar Shoot Out Diamond on the Arc Double cabinet and a Class II version of the hit game Express Luxury Line.

“We’ve released Silver Dollar Shoot Out on the Helix XT in Class II, and it’s now the No. 2 video title,” says Scott. “We’re going to bring that to the premium space with the Arc Double. With Cash Express, we’ll have a Class II version on the MarsX Dual Screen. It’s an exciting opportunity there to bring that great title over to Class II.”

Aristocrat’s new for-sale three-reel steppers in Class II, with core VGT math in all-new games, include Hunt for Aztec Riches, Red Spin Run, Lucky Bunch, and Gold Gold and More Gold.

“One of the taglines that we use internally is ‘Aristocrat Class II is first-class,’” says Syamala. “So we are bringing not only our legacy VGT stepper knowledge, but we are using the power of both companies.”

Finally, Aristocrat will also show new content for its historical horse racing games. The company is currently in three states with its HHR games. “We are in a very strong position in HHR,” Syamala says. “In every property, we are either No. 1 or No. 2. We are very happy with that performance.”

The Aristocrat display will be rounded out with games for the New York Lottery’s central determinant system and VLT markets.

“It’s a story of supplying operators with a complete portfolio,” says Scott. “We are supplying operators with a complete portfolio rather than just a product. We want to instill confidence in our operators through leading performance and support.”

“I may say this every year,” says Hanlin, “but honestly, this will be the best G2E booth we’ve ever had. Aristocrat has a commitment to have the most innovative slot product portfolio in the world. And this booth will show it.”

Frank Legato is editor of Global Gaming Business magazine. He has been writing on gaming topics since 1984, when he launched and served as editor of Casino Gaming magazine. Legato, a nationally recognized expert on slot machines, has served as editor and reporter for a variety of gaming publications, including Public Gaming, IGWB, Casino Journal, Casino Player, Strictly Slots and Atlantic City Insider. He has an B.A. in journalism and an M.A. in communications from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. He is the author of the books, How To Win Millions Playing Slot Machines... Or Lose Trying, and Atlantic City: In Living Color.  

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