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Cloud Nine

Eric Berg, President, International Gaming Technology

Cloud Nine

It hasn’t taken long for Eric Berg to make his mark as president of International Game Technology. Brought in to oversee day-to-day operations at the slot manufacturing giant, Berg, on the job less than six months, has quickly grasped the advantage the company has over its competitors in the industry: Size matters.

“The scale and our global breadth allows us to deliver to our customers a unique value proposition,” he says.

Despite its size, however, Berg says IGT is attuned to the local markets.

“We’re able to localize our product offering,” he says. “We have very strong brands and underlying game mechanics and math models. We have a two-tier strategy of catering to the different cultures with games that speak to them, but we also have some games, like Sex and the City and The Hangover, that really transcend cultures and borders.”

In Asia, Berg is confident that the market will continue to expand.

“We’re already seeing the slot floor grow in Asia,” he says. “I think this notion of culturally specific games is going to play a big role in that growth, certainly in Macau. We have a significant effort under way to understand how the players break into different groups, not only to give us insight into how to localize in those markets, but also to understand the different segments so we can make games that satisfy them.”

Berg, however, is most excited about a new effort launched in December that will consolidate all IGT offerings in a “cloud” and reduce the need for hardware and software on the casino floor.

“We’re creating a connected experience for the player,” he says, “a 360 view of his desires and aspirations. Similar to what Apple has developed in the consumer space, we can be the master integrator in the gaming space. The casinos would rather spend their time, effort and money creating programs that are uniquely positioned for their patrons, rather than trying to figure out how to integrate disparate technology. It’s a unique position for us in the marketplace and it fills a real need.”

Berg says IGT’s cloud-based initiative was inspired by a mega-trend in the information technology industry.

“Instead of requiring operators to build big, expensive data warehouses, buy servers and storage and manage the complexity of a technical infrastructure, we take all of the infrastructure and plumbing under our roof and provide the application and service over the web. This removes all the barriers to entry and adoption. This will provide us with a significant advantage over our competitors because it enables us to deliver our full portfolio of games and systems directly to the casino more seamlessly.”

The potential advantages to operators are significant, according to Berg.

“First, it’s going to dramatically reduce the startup costs,” he says. “They won’t have to make a multimillion-dollar investment. They’ll just have to launch an application. It will allow customers to pay as you go and turn a big capital expense into an operating expense.”

The impact on server-based with this plan would be substantial, as a customer would have access to the full library of IGT titles.

“It’s just a different delivery vehicle for all of our services,” he says. “As it’s now offered, server-based gaming requires the installation of a server and a certain level of customer proficiency. A vast amount of that technical complexity and up-front cost goes away with this initiative. It essentially eliminates the risk of trying server-based gaming. We think it’s going to a major accelerator for adoption.”

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