Georgia-based Cadillac Jack faced a big test last year, and a big question: Could the company, long a leading supplier in several Class II markets, translate its success into the fiercely competitive Class III markets?
This year, that goal is closer than ever, as 2009 sizes up to be the most successful of the company’s 14-year history.
Cadillac Jack instilled a new management team last year-headed by Chairman and CEO Gene Chayevsky-and focused on setting up the engineering and product development needed to expand current markets and move into new ones. The effort is paying off. “This will be our most successful year ever because we succeeded in reaching milestones we set for ourselves in 2008,” says Mauro Franic, vice president of product management and marketing for Cadillac Jack. “No. 1 was to have a high-performance product, and build a library around it that will support a rotation of placements in the U.S.”
The accomplishment is still unfolding. The company has sold its first Class III slots in California and Wisconsin, and has increased its presence in Class II markets including Texas, Alabama and Oklahoma-and Mexico, which has been one of the company’s strongest traditional markets.
Franic says the company has expanded its product families for both Class II and Class III, and is now launching games that are available in both technologies. “We’re focusing on dependability of the products and a growing library of titles, particularly for our 20-line, 200-coin video reel family,” he says.
By the end of the year, Cadillac Jack will have released 28 new games in its 20-line video series alone, as well as expanding the wide-area progressive line with new games and new play features.
For G2E, the company also is emphasizing its new line of 50-line video slots-highly volatile games that have already achieved success in the company’s new markets. For the fourth quarter of 2009, the company introducing a second group of 50-line slots, which Franic calls a “complementary family” of games with similar volatility to the first slots introduced last summer, but with a higher hit frequency in the main game.
“These slots are designed to keep the type of player who likes a longer time on device,” Franic says. “We’ve shifted some of the pays from the bonus events to the main games to achieve a higher hit rate.”
New Formats, New Games
One can’t discuss Cadillac Jack’s new games without first noting another milestone that will be on display at G2E-the company’s first state-of-the-art, dual-screen cabinet, which will be the company’s format of choice going forward.
“We’re very excited about this cabinet,” says Franic. “We considered the best-in-class in manufacturing design, and made it extremely modular. It offers high serviceability and low maintenance. The sound has been greatly enhanced as well. One of our focus groups put it against the BOSE sound system, and a key for our design team was to exceed that experience. Placement and orientation of the speakers has been optimized. Audio and lighting effects are very attractive.”
The new format links the game controller to a lighting controller, so lights change colors according to different game events. Other visual advantages-the high-definition, 22-inch dual LCD monitors, and a sleek, slim-line design.
Franic says the new cabinet is designed to be upgradeable, and to run server-based solutions for both Class II and Class III.
Two of the company’s main G2E product launches will feature the new cabinet. Cadillac Jack will launch a new series of 40-line video slots , and a redesigned version of the company’s first multi-level progressive slot, called “Mega Money Maker.”
The company also will launch new games in the 50-line, 20-line and 40-line game groups.
According to Franic, the 50-line series has been enhanced with higher hit frequencies, multiple vertical-stacked wild symbols and other features that pump up the entertainment.
In the 50-line series, one game being showcased is the Native American-themed “Ghost Bear.” The game, available in three-reel and five-reel setups, and in Class III and Class II versions, features prominent Native American actor Adam Beach (Windtalkers, Flags of Our Fathers) as the host, guiding players through bonus rounds and primary game features.
Beach guides the player through the legend of the mystical spirit bear, which represents peace and harmony to many western Canadian First Nations tribes. The theme is wrapped around a highly volatile game that features free-spin bonus events and multiplied jackpots. (Beach himself will be at G2E helping to promote the game.)
For Cadillac Cash, the company’s wide-area progressive mainstay for both Class II and Class III markets, the company is launching “Pump It Up,” a new 50-line game with a 1950s theme that features “Frenzy Spins,” in which symbols on the center reel lock in place while the surrounding reels spin in opposite directions for additional winning combinations.
Other 50-line slots on display will include “Firehouse 50,” “Expedition Outback,” “Legends of the Orient” and “Big Easy Bucks.”
Forty-line titles include “So Hot,” which has been the company’s best-performing game so far in the new format; plus additional titles including “Queen of the Delta,” “Truck Stop Jackpot,” “Galapagos” and “Barnyard Blastoff.”
Cadillac Jack’s G2E showcase is intended as a springboard to expansion into new markets in the U.S., Latin America, Asia and elsewhere.
The company’s “Latin Bingo” game, already popular in Mexico, has been redesigned. It was already translated into Portuguese and enjoyed much success in Brazil before that market shut down. Franic says the company will be ready if and when new legislation reopens the huge Brazilian gaming market.
Cadillac jack also has shipped its first games to Asia, and will be placing product in Cambodia and Laos, says Franic.
Meanwhile, the company is focused on expanding its presence in U.S. Class III markets. “One of the things we’ve done is to work with both leading labs, GLI and BMM, to allow us to expand,” Franic explains. “This year, we went into Montana and other new markets. For next year, we will try to expand our licensing in Class III-initially tribal, then commercial.”
Expect Cadillac Jack’s next U.S. markets to be Idaho, Mississippi, Michigan and New Mexico-he says Nevada and New Jersey could follow as early as 2011.
Franic says the company is now ready to move into the mainstream. “For the company, 2008 was a year of challenges,” he says. “The new management team knew it had to restructure to be competitive, to better the product offering, and to streamline the organization to focus on product and engineering. Now, our focus is on giving our customers the things that really matter.”
For Cadillac Jack, that customer base only stands to grow.