Duluth, Georgia-based Eclipse Gaming Systems has been riding a steady growth stream for the past few years. Since he took the helm in 2018, CEO Tim Minard has assembled a team of leaders in all departments that is taking the Class II supplier to new markets, as the company launches more and more titles each year, moving toward an eventual expansion into Class III markets.
In the meantime, Eclipse has continued to grow its Class II footprint, thanks to a game development team headed by Chief Technology Officer Steven Slotwinski, formerly a longtime game producer for WMS Gaming and Scientific Games, and chief operating officer for a subsidiary of NHN Entertainment, responsible for multiple social-mobile product lines.
These days, Slotwinski is using that Class III and interactive gaming experience to continue the expansion of Eclipse’s footprint in Class II markets. “My experience making land-based and interactive products has definitely guided my approach to product design, especially when it comes to prioritizing the player experience per market,” he says.
“At Eclipse, I have started an initiative to better understand what our players are attracted to in each market. This includes everything from the theme artwork to the math-model ride that each player experiences per theme, the attractiveness of our merchandising, and how comfortable players feel wagering with different bet structures.”
To realize this vision, Slotwinski has continued to build up the game design team with veteran talent from the industry as well as young talent from the rich pool in and around Gwinnett County, the company’s home base in the Metro Atlanta region.
“We have partnered with the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce and the Gwinnett school system in Georgia (from elementary through the college level), to help educate the next generation of STEAM students on the gaming industry,” he says, referring to the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics that are the biggest contributors to the art of slot game design.
The company also has partnered with multiple universities in the area, creating internship programs to promote gaming careers at schools like Georgia Tech.
All that training and R&D staff development will be evident at the Global Gaming Expo, where Eclipse is set to launch 14 new titles in a 26-game display, including four new game families and themes for multiple markets and multiple player segments.
That content will be featured on new hardware this year as the company rolls out its Impact 49 cabinet, the 49-inch portrait cabinet that joins the company’s current Impact 43 and Impact 27 form factors. “This year we decided to go bigger by adding the Impact 49 to our platform selection,” Slotwinski says, adding that the format is available in multiple pod configurations featuring wedge artwork and a 360-degree LED sign package.
Exploiting the Strengths
In addition to brand-new offerings, the product lineup from Eclipse Gaming at G2E will feature reprises of game families and slots that already have proven themselves in the field. One of the most popular game families for the company this year has been the Jackpot Series led by Tick Tock Jackpot, a game presented on a five-by-eight-reel configuration with a unique countdown picking game that has players battling the clock to collect bombs that will set off a “chain reaction” explosion of credit awards and progressive jackpots.
Tick Tock Jackpot also features a hold-and-re-spin feature on expanded reels, leading to more credit awards and progressives.
At G2E, Eclipse will showcase three games from the Jackpot Series—Tick Tock Jackpot, Sky High Jackpot, and Mucho Grande Jackpot.
Another G2E Eclipse spotlight will be the debut of the new Cash Arcade family with The Big Shake series, featuring a virtual replication of the classic arcade and casino coin-pushing machines.
Central to the game is a bonus wheel, which dumps its awards onto the main replica of a pile of gold coins under the mechanized pushers that continue to push the pile to spill credits to the player’s meter. It is a remarkably authentic replication of the player-favorite arcade game, and Slotwinski says the programmers used “real-time physics” to replicate the gravity of the coin spills.
Players can choose their favorite tune to play by touching the track pick button on the front of the coin, adding to the immersive appeal of the game.
The inaugural titles are Big Shake Neon and Big Shake Carnival.
“These games look amazing in 4K graphics, and the use of real-time physics is something the Class II industry has never seen,” Slotwinski says. “These games will attract a lot of attention and have great success in any casino; they offer an incredible player experience.”
Another game family to be featured at G2E is the Spin Big series, consisting of three-reel games in single-line or five-line versions. Inaugural games are Spin Big Galaxy, Spin Big Mardi Gras, and the newest, Spin Big Gears of Wealth.
The common feature is a two-tiered bonus wheel, spun for credit awards, free games, or one of two progressive jackpots, played out on a huge wheel that covers most of the 49-inch portrait monitor. Hitting an “upgrade” symbol on the first wheel activates the second wheel, with higher-paying wedges.
There also is a pick bonus, in which players pick one of three game icons to reveal a mystery credit award.
New individual games Eclipse will feature at G2E include Riches of the Gods and Bison King.
The Greek-themed Riches of the Gods game takes the player to the foot of the mountain where the gods live, complete with multipliers, free games, and a wheel bonus that awards multipliers or a spin on an upgraded wheel. The wheel awards can be upgraded three times during the wheel-spin feature.
Bison King features the “Cash Stack” bonus, in which all five reels display cash-on-reels symbols that appear as stacks of cash. Free spins aim for more cash stacks—the accumulated totals of the cash-on-reels symbols are awarded when the stack reaches the top of each reel.
The Bison Bonus Wheel can be activated during the Cash Stacks feature, spinning for credit awards or progressive jackpots. Players can win multiple progressives during this feature.
Other highlights include the Hall of Fame Series, which consists of classic and high-performing Eclipse titles, transformed from their original Flash platform into a 4K presentation. Titles include Wicked Mad Hot, with a flaming graphics presentation of free games with multipliers; and Big and Bad Bolt, themed around a lightning storm on a farm, with comical farm characters dodging lightning in the “Bolt Bonus,” a bonus-within-a-bonus that features a funny animated sequence as lightning bolts strike for bonus awards.
Bringing it Together
Slotwinski is anticipating a successful G2E. “I am very proud of all the products Eclipse will be showing at this year’s show,” he says. “We have seen our success grow through the continuation of each of our product lines and game families.”
Meanwhile, Eclipse continues to grow. Since 2020, the company has expanded its workforce by 35 percent, has steadily increased its licensed jurisdiction count, and has continued to build on its Class II footprint.
“We have huge ambitions that we plan on completing in the next 18 months, which include unique new hardware solutions combined with more distinctive content,” says Slotwinski. “We are augmenting this pipeline by partnering with some well-known hardware innovators and third-party game developers to increase our pipeline strategy going forward.”
That pipeline will, in large part, be crafted with continuous feedback from players, he adds. “We are continuously visiting the casinos in our markets to identify trends, and then we build products geared for those players. There really is no better feeling than making a product that people like to play.”