The year 2020 is without precedent, in this or any other industry.
When the casino industry shut down in March for the first time in its long history due to the Covid-19 pandemic, questions abounded about whether and when the major suppliers of slot machines would recover. When the Global Gaming Expo, slated for this month, was canceled, questions arose as to when the industry’s operators would even be ready to consider buying new games.
The cancellation of G2E also presented a question concerning this, the annual “Global Games” edition of Global Gaming Business. The Global Games feature, as well as its predecessor in another magazine going back to the early 1990s, was conceived to give operators attending G2E (and the World Gaming Congress before it) a guide to all the new games to be exhibited at the annual trade show. With no show, would a new product showcase be feasible?
After discussions with those suppliers—who also happen to be our top advertisers—it became obvious, particularly as casinos began to reopen this summer, that the supply side of the gaming industry had done all in its power to survive amid the pandemic, and in fact, had continued research and development efforts while many aspects of their businesses remained idle.
That’s why we decided to continue to highlight all the innovations coming out of the sector. Last month, we published Progressive Products Preview (P3), which replaces the former G2E Preview’s showcase of new technology outside of the slot sector, in the absence of a physical trade show to preview.
And it is why we decided to proceed with this, the 19th edition of the Global Games feature highlighting the year’s innovations from the major slot manufacturers of the industry. This summer, we traveled to the headquarters of slot manufacturers as in past years, and were shown technology innovations that you will see reported on exclusively in the following pages.
The story was the same for each and every slot manufacturer as far as working through the Covid-19 crisis. All of the game design teams quickly shifted to remote development, and as a result, the supply sector’s annual outpouring of innovation barely missed a beat. Many of the suppliers actually increased their annual output of games, using the industry’s forced pause for increased R&D in new product areas.
As a result, you will find the usual amazing collection of innovation in new cabinets, new game styles, fun game mechanics this year as any other year. One big difference is that we have included a wealth of games that are already on casinos floors, since many of them were officially released early in 2020, only to be idled when the operators were forced to shut down.
The other big differences you’ll find this year in the Global Games feature are reports on innovation and manufacturer progress that has been accelerated because of the pandemic. That means internet gaming, which thrived when the brick-and-mortar casinos were closed. Major manufacturers accelerated efforts this year to port as much of their content to iGaming sites as possible, some developing their own remote game servers to avoid having to partner with third-party aggregators.
That also means systems technology, particularly technology that support contactless, cashless wagering. As casinos sought to return safely to operations, the demand for technology that would allow contactless, cashless gaming at slots and tables grew exponentially.
Finally, several manufacturers steered development efforts to technology that would promote social distancing, sanitization of surfaces and other necessities of post-Covid operations. Merchandising efforts are steered to pod configurations for gaming machines, which achieves social distancing without any machines being disabled. Where such pods are not possible, manufacturers have devised system technology that automatically disables surrounding machines when a player cards in, and alerts cleaning teams to sanitize surfaces when play stops.
Other manufacturers have produced new inventions to promote player safety, from removable Plexiglas barriers to UV light technology that continuously disinfects and sanitizes game surfaces.
One other conclusion can be drawn from our conversations with the supply sector this year: There is a universal optimism that casinos will continue to renew their floors with new games in the coming years, along with a universal commitment from the manufacturers to help their operator partners to achieve that—from increased lease and participation deals to suspension of fees and special financing arrangements.
You will find those cabinets, new games and new systems highlighted on the following pages. Many of the manufacturers highlighted are also submitting video demonstrations of their products, to which you will find links in the online version of this magazine.
Welcome to Global Games 2020, as we relate one more thought repeated by suppliers and operator alike:
We’re all in this together.
COMPANIES PROFILED IN GLOBAL GAMES 2020