As anyone who has followed the gaming industry for any length of time knows, there is one event which, year after year, provides the clearest vision of the future one can get—the Global Gaming Expo.
This year’s G2E is the last one to be held in November—it changes venues next year and moves to October. However, whenever it has been held, G2E has provided the world’s slot manufacturers a platform on which to display the “new model year,” the games to be launched in the coming year.
Over the years, the slot sector has provided more advanced technology than any other outpost of the gaming industry. Lately, that technology has inched closer and closer to the way slot machines ultimately will be deployed—on a central server-based, networked slot floor.
The nature of many new games that will be highlighted on the following pages reflects the best of what networked technology has to offer: Community play, with players joining both in competition and cooperation. The ability to log in and out, continuing the same game on another day and retaining all bonus features earned. Incredibly sharp graphics and animation, thanks to use of engineering formerly reserved for the home video game market.
At the same time technology has advanced, the slot sector has become more crowded. Competition among slot manufacturers has never been stronger, as companies like WMS, Bally and Konami continue to gain market share, and as Class II powerhouses like Multimedia Games and Cadillac Jack continue to penetrate the Class III market—and newer international players like Aruze and Ainsworth come on strong.
As you will see in this year’s Global Games feature, competition is indeed a healthy thing. International Game Technology, which once had a virtual strangle-hold on the slot market, is responding to the competition with some of the most remarkable games the venerable company as ever produced. WMS is continuing a journey to networked gaming that it started a decade ago, as Bally, Aristocrat, Aruze and others launch new platforms and cabinets that are taking slot play into uncharted waters.
Meanwhile, the ever-elusive slot replacement cycle still stands in the near future, as the manufacturing sector awaits the day when operators will again open their wallets to renew floors that are, as a group, older than they have been in decades.
Had it not been for the timely addition of new floor capacity in places like Pennsylvania and Maryland, the recession could have spelled total disaster for more than one slot supplier. While new jurisdictions like Ohio and Kansas stand to continue this trend, the slot-makers are hoping this is the year replacement sales in mature markets will put them over the top toward recovery.
As you shall now see, all of them are prepared for that eventuality. Here is what the top companies in the slot supply sector have up their sleeves for the coming year.