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Big Idea

Why the super-large slot machines are making lots of friends

Big Idea

They are the perfect casino ambassadors.

Large-format slot machines bring the subliminal nature of gaming to an extroverted space. Customers don’t simply want to win. They want to win BIG. Ten feet or higher big. Larger-than-life big. The seemingly endless visual stimulation, heightened by sophisticated lighting, enhanced graphics and pulsating music, accents the fantasy that lures players to the floor.

Oversized machines denote euphoria. Their look mirrors how a customer can feel after a big score—momentarily invincible. Casinos can use them as an unofficial sales staff, making tournaments, multi-player activities and photo ops a party.

Whether the units match the revenue output of smaller machines may be secondary. Oversized machines drive the passion that drives the business. They can be justified either by revenue totals or by categorizing them with the aesthetic pleasure gleaned from stylish lobbies, timely amenities or tall structures.

Size matters.


Opus Operandi

Las Vegas-based Konami Gaming, a leading innovator of slot machines and gaming enterprise management systems, unveiled a freshly completed opus at G2E last month.

Konami’s newest addition to the Concerto Collection of video slots drew a buzz at the prominent gaming summit. The innovation is called Concerto Opus. It features an extra-large 65-inch HD 4K-capable display to highlight the company’s latest portrait-oriented game releases, as well as custom-designed content. Games like Riches Drop Plop Plop Peach and Solstice Celebration Triple Sparkle were featured at G2E. Concerto Opus is scheduled to hit the market in a matter of months.

“The unique bonus mechanics and creative animation take over this gigantic screen so players are right in the action,” says Steve Walther, senior director of marketing and product management for Konami Gaming. “A great example is the mystery feature in Riches Drop Plop Plop Peach, in which the hero character swoops onto the screen riding atop a cloud, summons a collection of bonus wild peach symbols, and drops them on the reels with a plop-plop to award the player additional wins. It’s something so delightfully original and unexpected, seeing it unfold on the big screen is absolutely endearing. You can’t help but smile.”

Walther says oversized machines attract varied audiences, with properties choosing to use bench seating for friends, married couples and other pairs. That’s why Konami equipped Concerto Opus with dual spin buttons and cup holders on either side. Concerto Opus also features a custom TouchDash touch-screen button panel that fills the dashboard with multi-color lighting effects programmed to the game.

The oversized cabinets hit a high note, visually and emotionally, with customers.

“They are found in prominent positions around the property and create a lot of buzz,” Walther asserts. “They demand a reaction, at least initially, and in the case of our Concerto KP3+ titles, the proven game play keeps them engaged beyond that initial spin. With Concerto Opus, we’ve been able to deliver an oversized cabinet that has the substance for recurring play and value over time.

“Concerto Opus is unique because it can be merchandised as a high-profile novelty or alongside standard core product with a lot of flexibility,” he continues. “It strikes a nice balance of appeal for both casual players and core slot players because of the game content quality and proven math. It’s just the right size to be placed as an end-cap in a high-traffic area, in pods of three or four, or banked against a wall.”

Walther says premium oversized cabinets have seen a lot of success in recent years. They capture attention, provide unique content and infuse a certain excitement, especially for bonus feature events. Guests take notice and gather around to watch the action unfold.


Twin Win

Scientific Games continues to astound. The Las Vegas-based company that provides gambling products and services to lottery and gambling organizations worldwide enjoyed G2E in its own backyard. As expected, it was locked and loaded for the gaming summit.

Although the immersive James Bond experience comprised a major company theme, some other numbers besides 007 grab customer attention. Like V75.

Scientific Games highlighted its TwinStar V75 cabinet, the biggest and boldest new member of the versatile TwinStar family of interactive game cabinets. This new large-display cabinet continues the TwinStar legacy of taking player attraction and innovation to new levels, company officials say.

Like its predecessors, the TwinStar V75 has industry-leading internal hardware, sleek ergonomic styling, and captivating multimedia lighting and sound. It also has the TwinStar broad cross-brand versatility, capable of supporting multiple content streams.

The most visible attribute of V75 is its bold, 75-inch, 4K resolution, ultra-high-definition curved display. The cabinet features emotive lighting through holographic LEDs, dual re-spin bet buttons, an oversized 24-inch iDeck digital button panel and a patent-pending simple assembly design.

The unique monitor curvature enhances the visibility of upper display elements and provides players a more comfortable viewing experience than most large-display cabinets.

Other ergonomic features include a wide-body structure with extensive leg room for two people and a foot rest. The V75 also offers a table-like, multi-level deck that provides room for personal storage, a USB power plug for charging mobile devices, and a large iDeck interface with integrated, extra-large left and right smash buttons.

The simple three-piece assembly of the TwinStar V75 allows for easy transportation, installation and servicing with no specialty tools or heavy lifting required. Despite its size, the cabinet’s footprint is conservative, taking up a lot less floor and visual space than competitive cabinets, according to the company.


Covering the Bases

International Game Technology, as expected, brought an array of cabinets, games and solutions to G2E. Large-format innovations housed the latest version of the venerable Wheel of Fortune, as well as other mechanical reel and video poker offerings.

Wheel of Fortune Megatower is presented on IGT’s largest cabinet, a whopping 11 feet tall. It was built to compete with other large-format cabinets in the market. The product’s huge size will draw people in while its premium titles, designed to work with the CrystalWheel Stepper and CrystalDual Stepper content library, will keep players engaged and entertained, officials say. With the Megatower cabinet, players can experience industry-favorite versions of Wheel of Fortune including Gold Spin, Triple Gold and Triple Double Diamond.

The large cabinet uses the Crystal Upright base module and incorporates a huge, crystal-clear display. The machine will create a gravitational presence on casino floors. Features include three 9-inch-wide mechanical reels with a 55-inch portrait upper display. The dynamic player panel has dual bash buttons and a lock-bet panel to eliminate errant screen touches.

Lights sync up to game experience, music and sounds. Black chrome plating is featured on high-end titles. There is consistency in look between CrystalDual, CrystalCore and the S3000, IGT’s core stepper cabinet. The product also features a built-in external USB charging port, allowing players to charge their phones or other USB-powered devices at the machine.

The S3000 XL gaming machine offers a larger-than-life gaming experience in the mechanical reels sector. This large-format cabinet immerses players like never before with its enlarged display and extended touch screen over wide mechanical reels. Its wide presence demands attention on any floor and offers an extra foot and a half of personal space. The product boasts a successful game library that lets operators show new and nostalgic spinning-reel titles.

The S3000 XL cabinet features mechanical reel themes like IGT’s Pinball, Triple Gold and Red Hot 21 Double Diamond Games. It is a colossal version of the S3000 cabinet.

Video poker meets large-format with the introduction of the Video Poker XL cabinet. The upright hardware melds design elements from IGT’s S3000 XL cabinet with the time-tested IGT video poker player panel. IGT showcased the Wheel Poker and 100 Play games on the Video Poker XL cabinet at G2E.


Colossal Impact

For AGS, Colossal Diamonds on the giant crimson Big Red cabinet remains a gaming-floor stalwart.

“In some cases, the game has been installed for years and continues to bring in more than five times the house average,” says Brett Vela, the company’s associate product manager. “The staying power has a lot to do with the game’s big celebrations and the social experience of the game play. Casinos often use this large, eye-catching form factor to create contagious excitement throughout their floor, especially near entrances and exits and other high-traffic areas.

“Big Red’s unique design attracts every demographic because its iconic red cabinet stands out on the casino floor and spreads excitement,” Vela asserts. “Its simple, classic game play is inviting and doesn’t intimidate new players.”

The company continues to advance upon approvals for its Colossal Diamonds slot machine, as the Big Red march has progressed steadily, primarily in Nevada.

And now it’s Big Red plus one, he says.

“Our next-generation Big Red cabinet features a 42-inch top monitor, which gives us the ability to create even more excitement on casino floors,” Vela indicates. “An attract mode helps draw more people in, and we’ll use that top monitor for win celebrations that can been seen anywhere on the floor.

“Part of the appeal and high performance of Colossal Diamonds is the math behind the game and the entire ride of the experience—it’s what players love. We’ve taken that same base math and game experience and integrated them into our new theme, Colossal Stars, which features beautiful new graphics, animation, and sounds powered by our cutting-edge Atlas platform. We debuted Colossal Stars at G2E 2017, and it’s currently available in most jurisdictions.”

Vela says AGS is literally committed to the big picture.

“The positive response from players and operators has been incredible,” he says. “We’re excited to have a product that continues to perform well and has a strong, loyal following of players behind it. As one of the first suppliers to really enter this large-format space and succeed, it’s been fun watching how other manufacturers approach their large-format games and cabinet designs. We don’t think this segment will slow down any time soon, and we plan to keep developing high-performing products in this area as long as the market continues to embrace it.”


Lightning Strikes

Everi Holdings made a giant splash into the gaming world a couple years back via the merger of Global Cash Access and Texas-based Multimedia Games. Its signature large-format product, the Texan HDX, arrives at more than 8 feet tall, with eye-catching accent lighting and a stylish, comfortable two-person bench. A three-way sound system comes with the package.

Other highlights include the dual 42-inch HD integrated displays, ergonomic player controls and integrated touch screens. Dual repeat bet buttons, with classic and new content, also are prominent.

And now…ZAP… another innovation, which gained prominent eyeballs at G2E. This one is a game, called Lightning Zap.

When designing it, Everi’s Black Hat Studio stretched to answer a challenging question: Can a slot machine with no reels whatsoever deliver a fun experience? The resulting game has far exceeded all expectations, according to Juan Mariscal, the game designer for Black Hat Studio.

There is no title anywhere on the screen, no reels or traditional symbols, and no pay table in the help screens. With an electric orb in the center along with all prizes displayed on screen, there’s an immediate intrigue as to what playing this game must be like.

“Lightning Zap is a one-of-a-kind gambler experience on a larger-than-life cabinet,” Mariscal asserts. “By eliminating reels, we’ve created a totally unique slot game that focuses on getting players to a win even faster using an electric orb that zaps and awards prizes. There’s a much quicker pace of play than with most slots, which boosts the excitement even more. In addition, by putting this game on our Texan cabinet, we’ve completely amplified the visual and audio impact to maximize the fun.”

Throughout the industry, operators find new ways to maximize this unique product style. Large-format machines can stand tall, on their own, or drive eyeballs and foot traffic to the slot-machine realm. They combine the aspects of team members, marketing, sales staff and hosts.

The products engage. They are, for all intents and purposes, gaming with a smile.

Incredible Action

Incredible Technologies forged a large-format presence by merging an existing base with a touch-screen monitor to create an oversized machine. Its G2E showcase of Infinity Skybox, Super Skybox and V55 reflected the innovation of a company motivated to rise.

The Chicago-based slot manufacturer has over 200 employees, more than 60 successful new and proven games in its catalog and just set up a new Las Vegas development office. Now licensed in 26 states, the company continually expands its footprint.

At G2E, Incredible Technologies unveiled Infinity V55, a new Infinity core form factor utilizing a full touch-screen, 4K vertical 55-inch monitor on a standard Infinity U23 base. This creates an immersive gaming experience on what is the largest screen on a core for-sale cabinet in the industry, officials indicate.

“This industry is too often an arms race of technology and the me-too product,” says Elaine Hodgson, president and CEO of Incredible Technologies. “This is not a fight in which we are interested. ‘One Step Ahead’ was not only our G2E slogan, but a message to the industry that speaks to why operators see value in our signature product—robust hardware, winning math and compelling content created by a unique combination of talented people. This is our strategy, and it is working.”

The V55 product uses a 55-inch vertical monitor as the main screen, but still fits on a standard 28-inch base. The 4K-resolution monitor of the Infinity V55 is topped with a visually compelling, bank-synched LED light bar, catching the eye of casino patrons from across the slot floor. While the impression is huge, the footprint is not.

Infinity Skybox takes the core U23 cabinet, adds a 55-inch vertical screen overhead for bonusing events and creates a cabinet that’s almost 10 feet tall. It utilizes a modular design leveraging the company’s Simple Sign Display Kit technology to secure the display. The signage is comfortable to the player sitting directly under it and can also be seen by patrons across the casino floor as bonus events and progressive meters are brightly displayed. The flexibility of the Infinity Skybox is ideal as stand-alone or in a large-bank format with linked progressives, according to Incredible Technologies officials.

Infinity Skybox launched with two flagship titles. Crazy Money Deluxe and Money Rain Deluxe provided an impactful new twist of the company’s most popular game brands. Both titles feature a massive digital bonus wheel overhead and a linkable progressive jackpot display.

Infinity Super Skybox takes four cabinets and links the overhead signage with a video director to link the screens, providing the equivalent of a cabinet exceeding 10 feet.

Super Skybox transforms four standard Infinity Skybox units into a shared, bank-wide display spanning across each cabinet’s 55-inch vertical monitor to create one unified overhead display—equivalent to a 123-inch screen—leveraging a groundbreaking game-to-game communication and video director technology.

Casino Connection Sports Editor Dave Bontempo is an award-winning sports writer and broadcaster who calls boxing matches all over the world. He has covered the Philadelphia Flyers in the playoffs, as well as numerous PGA, LPGA and Seniors Golf Tour events, and co-hosted the Casino Connection television program with Publisher Roger Gros.