Every year, Aristocrat Gaming seems to outdo itself. That’s again true this year.
Last year, it was the Neptune Single, a cabinet that continues to gain momentum in its second year. This year, the buzz is all about the National Football League.
Aristocrat Gaming, consistently the top slot supplier in the business, has seized the moment. In time for the start of the 2023 NFL season, Aristocrat launched the first game in a series of NFL-themed slot games that will occupy several different formats and cabinets.
It is the culmination of two years of development at Aristocrat since its 2021 announcement of its partnership with the NFL. Super Bowl Jackpots, the inaugural game in the series, saw its first placements in late August. Games in the series to debut later this year and into 2024 include Overtime Cash, Super Bowl Link, NFL Kickoff, Winning Drive, and Rings of Victory—each inspired by a unique element of NFL game play.
The NFL games headline another amazing collection of games to be launched at Aristocrat’s G2E booth. While the NFL games lead what will be a hefty collection of new slots on the gaming operations side, the company will, for the second year in a row, arrive at G2E with 100 percent brand-new games on the for-sale side. That’s a total of 54 never-before-seen games on various form factors that will be available for delivery by the early months of 2024.
“NFL is going to be an integral part of our portfolio going forward, but it’s just a part of our portfolio,” comments Jon Hanlin, Aristocrat’s senior vice president, commercial strategy, Americas and EMEA. “We look at it as similar to Buffalo and Dragon Link games, where we bring it out on a number of different math models and number of different cabinets, but it’s a cog in a larger piece.”
That larger piece includes gaming ops highlights like a recently released Tarzan progressive link, new games in the Dollar Storm franchise, and two new progressives in the venerable Buffalo franchise. On the for-sale side is a variety of new concepts, as well as games that celebrate legendary Aristocrat titles.
“Aristocrat has had success, and we really want to be able to showcase that we are reinvesting that success into new games, new innovations, and new licenses,” Hanlin says, “so that we can continue to give the value and strong performance we believe we provide to our casino partners.”
But certainly, the most anticipated release for Aristocrat this year is the NFL game series. The inaugural game, Super Bowl Jackpots, was developed by Hall of Fame game designer Joe Kaminkow, who is chief innovation officer for Aristocrat Gaming.
The game is a bona fide Kaminkow masterpiece, and is also the first game in a new cabinet series developed in tandem, the King Max. One of four new cabinets being launched by Aristocrat at G2E, the King Max is a perfect vehicle for the NFL series. Its 63.5-inch curved monitor sweeps from the top progressive meters to a large virtual button deck with dual bash buttons. It’s all in front of a two-seat iBench or iChair3, with surround-sound audio.
Super Bowl Jackpots greets the player with the “Pick Your Team” prompt screen found throughout the game series. Casino players pick their favorite team from a screen displaying the logos of all 32 NFL teams. Once the selection is made, the entire color scheme, reel symbols and top box switch to that team’s colors and images. Footage from previously broadcast NFL games is incorporated into bonuses and other game events—footage from the most recent seasons of that team’s games. Aristocrat Gaming also worked closely with the NFL Players Association to bring these elements into reality.
“We realized that NFL fans don’t always live in the market where their favorite team is,” says Hanlin. “What intrigued us was to do something
really innovative, creating these 32 different art packages—selectable art, we call it.”
The art and the game footage are built into a pack of bonus features using the most popular game mechanics of the day, including a pot-style collection feature and Aristocrat’s signature Hold & Spin bonus feature.
“There are a lot of great bonus features,” Hanlin says. “There are opportunities to focus on the action of football, so many of our bonuses are around kicking field goals, scoring touchdowns, two-minute drills, finishing quarters, and overtime. It really encompasses what NFL fans see when they watch the games and brings that into the slot machine world.”
Super Bowl Jackpots is on a million-dollar link, with a top progressive jackpot resetting at $1 million.
While Super Bowl Jackpots launched just ahead of the start of the NFL season, the next game in the series will hit casino floors shortly after G2E. Overtime Cash is a high-denomination three-reel stepper game, and like Super Bowl Jackpots, it launches a new cabinet. Called the Marquis, it is a premium three-reel stepper cabinet with a large bonus wheel on top.
“This is a beautiful new cabinet,” says Ryan Scott, vice president, commercial strategy, gaming operations for Aristocrat. “Overtime Cash is a three-reel, nine-line, 10-credit stepper game.”
That 10th credit is important—it’s essentially an ante wager that activates a great feature of the game, the “Interception Feature.”
“It will intercept a losing spin and turn it into a winning spin,” says Scott. “The extra credit gives you a second chance at winning.”
Scott adds that the game footage is used to great effect on Overtime Cash. “Like most NFL games, exciting video clips and all the branding from NFL are used,” he says. “The symbols go up to the wheel, and there’s great game footage in the top box. It’s a really impressive cabinet. We’re already getting a ton of great feedback.”
The third game in the NFL series, Super Bowl Link, will be released on the MarsX Portrait cabinet. The multiple-progressive game features Aristocrat’s pioneering Hold & Spin mechanic in a bonus round that can yield cash-on-reels and a progressive award.
“We changed the industry with the creation of Hold & Spin on Lightning Link and Dragon Link, and it has blossomed in a lot of different games,” Hanlin says. “But as the originators of that mechanic, and having the biggest brand in sports, we feel like it would be almost disingenuous of us to not have a linked product for that core player that loves Hold & Spin.
“That game is really timeless. When you see it at G2E, you’ll see how we’ve positioned it to be able to stay on the floor for a very long time and really hit that audience that loves to play those more volatile kinds of core games.”
The other three NFL games are each on different cabinets. Winning Drive will be featured on the impressive Neptune Double, with its tall dual portraits providing an immersive way to enjoy the sports theme. Kickoff and Ring of Victory will both be stepper games on Aristocrat’s premium mechanical reel cabinets, the former on the RELM XL three-reel and the latter on the RELM XL five-reel.
“Our intention with the NFL slot machines is to reach all types of slot players on the floor—a number of the games have stepper content; some of them are video Class III content; and there will be some games that are really focused on core mechanics,” says Hanlin. “We’re building a portfolio of products at launch that will speak to all parts of the casino floor.”
Moreover, the new cabinets being launched with the NFL games will be used for others going forward. “We’re excited to be showing a lineup of King Max content that goes beyond just NFL,” says Scott. “It’s a complementary brand to our strong portfolio, so the hits like the Buffalos and the Tarzans are titles that you’re going to be able to see on that cabinet as well at G2E.”
From Sales to Ops
Aristocrat’s G2E display will feature several new gaming ops offerings, including the first lease game to be offered on the company’s new MarsX Flex cabinet.
The MarsX Flex, launched on the game-sales side with Buffalo Strike! and Fu Dai Lian Lian Turtle, features a 55-inch top monitor for an entertaining play experience. “We’re going to be releasing a Buffalo title with a brand-new sign package on the MarsX Flex,” says Scott. “It just looks incredible. You’re going to start seeing limited placements leading up to G2E.”
The game is Buffalo Ultimate Stampede, which combines classic Buffalo game play with cash on reels, a feature meter, and an entertaining stampede feature that unlocks additional rows by landing coins and Buffalo symbols, fully utilizing the large top box.
Also featured on the gaming ops side will be a modernized version of an Aristocrat classic, Bank Buster. This premium multi-denom, multi-game features Buffalo, Pompeii, and another throwback, Louie’s Gold. Three pigs sit atop the reel set and interact with the game, expanding cash on reels, repeating wins, and awarding jackpots. These “Really Pig Wins” play out on the Neptune Single cabinet and are merchandised with the impressive Stratus sign package.
Also featured in gaming ops will be Buffalo Chief Platinum, a 1,024-ways-to-win version of the Buffalo game released early this year on the Neptune Double cabinet that features stacked and expanding-wild multipliers up to 8X.
Premium games to be highlighted at G2E also include Golden Geisha, evolutions of the Buffalo and Tarzan brands, and a new game in the Dollar Storm franchise, Dollar Storm Mega Grand Link.
All New, All for Sale
The fact that Aristocrat will arrive at G2E with more than 50 brand-new games on the for-sale side is a testament to their continued investment in D&D, and having the most talented and diverse game design teams, says Sony Syamala, vice president, commercial strategy, game sales for Aristocrat Gaming.
“We have the best game studios in the industry,” Syamala says. “That is what really drives our engine. They generate so many games for us, hit after hit. For this G2E, the slogan that I’m using is that we are back-to-back 100 percent-new-product heavyweight champions. We are bringing all new games that will be available within six months from G2E.”
At G2E, Aristocrat plans to showcase its ability to further enhance the compelling portfolio released recently. Prominent among those recently released games are several that use the tried-and-true Hold & Spin feature and triple pot-style bonus events. One of those is Triple Supreme Xtreme, with an “action-packed triple metamorphic feature,” says Syamala. Featured on the MarsX Portrait cabinet, the game has three metamorphic icons, which can trigger individual bonuses or can combine to provide two or all three features.
The first icon triggers free games; the second triggers the Hold & Spin feature. The third symbol triggers a match-three pick ‘em bonus for a guaranteed jackpot.
The triple pot-style bonus also is being applied to two Aristocrat classics in Buffalo Triple Power and Timber Wolf Triple Power.
Also featured on the for-sale side will be Mo’ Mummy, a clever Egyptian-themed game that offers a collection feature triggered by landing mummy and gem symbols.
Released this summer on the MarsX Dual cabinet, one of the pots can trigger a new feature called “Cash Collect.” During free games, cash-on-reels symbols land in growing frames constituting several cash awards each. Beginning with symbols on a two-by-two-symbol frame, with additional gem symbols, the frames can grow to five-by-five blocks of cash awards.
According to Syamala, Mo’ Mummy is typically performing at three times house average, on a cabinet that was introduced five years ago. “I’ve been in the industry for a while, and I can’t remember any other manufacturer that can claim they have a five-year cabinet with a new game that is doing two times, three times house average. It shows our commitment and investment in every single thing that we do.”
Mo’ Mummy, configured as a “mid-denomination” game, has been making its way to high-end rooms in many casinos, says Syamala, as wagers at the 5-cent and 10-cent denominations typically total more than traditional dollar games. “We’re seeing a trend where players do have the appetite to gravitate toward the higher wagers,” he says. “So, we’re placing them right outside the high-limit room, or even inside the room, because they are generating bets you would expect from a dollar or higher denomination.”
Some of the new for-sale titles to look for at the G2E booth: Aristocrat Legends Deluxe, Bao Zhu Zhao Fu Blast, Fu Dai Lian Lian Fusion, Whisker Wheels Aqua Dynasty, Bigger Fu Cash Bats, Crazy Chickens, Fortune Harmony Grand Spins, Genie’s Wheel and Wonder 4 Revolution, Bao Bao Riches, Brazil Super Gold, Buffalo and Friends, and Ju Cai Jin Gui.
Finally, the game-sales group will include another new cabinet, called MarsX Fit. The “fit” means the cabinet fits seamlessly on casino floors without affecting sightlines.
“One of the concerns that we gathered from a number of our customers is that the new cabinets are getting taller and taller,” says Syamala. “So if a customer has a concern with ceiling heights, our answer to that problem is the introduction of this new cabinet. It features a single screen with a 10-inch top screen, which provides maximum visibility.”
Syamala says the new cabinet will be used to promote Aristocrat’s legacy brands. “If you go to any casino, you see older cabinets running legacy content, which has a huge following from players,” he says. “So, we’re bringing a number of our legacy games in a multi-game format and making them available on the MarsX Fit. This helps our customers consolidate some of these legacy games into smaller banks and a smaller footprint.”
Finally, Aristocrat will bring a complete portfolio of Class II, VLT and historical horse racing games to G2E. The company recently introduced the giant Neptune Double cabinet in Class II. “We’re really excited about that,” says Hanlin. “Class II is infinitely important to us as an organization, and we believe in the Class II product to promote tribal sovereignty.”
For VLT markets in Oregon, Canada and elsewhere, the company is launching yet another new cabinet, called the MidKnight X. In addition to the VLT markets, it has recently been introduced in Georgia’s coin-operated amusement game market, which marks Aristocrat’s entry into that space.
For HHR and New York lottery markets, the Cash Express Luxury line and a full line of for-sale titles will be introduced. For Illinois VGT, on the MarsX Portrait and the MarsX Upright are the new Storming Jackpot titles and the launch of a new seven-game set.
For the Washington ATLS market is a custom portfolio built specifically for the markets, complemented by a unique portfolio of Class II products.
“G2E is a coming-out party for us to showcase everything that the NFL series can be,” says Hanlin, “but I think to Sony’s point around the 100 percent new game sales on the floor and Ryan covering the larger lineup of gaming ops, we’re communicating that Aristocrat as a whole is here, and will continue to be the No. 1 provider of slot machines.”