A year ago, slot manufacturer Scientific Games arrived at the Global Gaming Expo with a mind-boggling collection of games reflecting the diversity of the legacy companies which, through mergers, had created the new version of the company—a worldwide end-to-end gaming and lottery supplier—while remaining devoted to all its iconic brands—Bally, WMS, Shuffle Master and Barcrest.
This year, while the collection of games will be no less mind-boggling, the products reflect the efforts of a fully integrated R&D team. While each of the legacy brands retains its special look, game mechanics and signature features, a collection of new cabinets and platforms reflects the joint efforts of the new Scientific Games.
“Last year, we were still combining the legacy companies,” says Allon
Englman, senior vice president and chief design officer of Scientific Games. “What you’ll see at G2E this year is where we’re taking the company next. We’ve been merged a year and a half, so in the new platforms we’re showing, you’ll see the combined strength of Scientific Games.”
That strength lies in more than 40 game design studios across the world—more than 700 game development specialists in all.
“Not only do we have development teams across the world,” says Greg Colella, vice president of product marketing, “but they are all contributing with very significant products. New Quick Hit games from the Las Vegas team. Games like Vegas 7s and Venice 7s from the Reno development team. The Chicago teams with new versions of Crystal Forest and Black Knight; the teams from Asia delivering Dancing Drum and Tree of Wealth; and teams in Australia developing the Lock It Link product, which will be featured prominently on our TwinStar cabinet.”
Colella notes that this enables an unmatched variety in the Scientific Games portfolio. “The Quick Hit games look like the Bally Quick Hit games that have always done so well; the Lock It Link product looks like a natively designed Australian product, because it is.”
This variety of games is being presented this year most prominently on three new platforms featuring unique cabinets that augment the groundbreaking form factors produced by Bally, WMS and the other legacy Scientific Games companies over the years.
The Js Have It
One of the most enduring—and most copied—of those form factors, of course, has been the curved vertical LCD monitor, pioneered by Bally three years ago with the Alpha 2 Pro Wave.
While other manufacturers are still scrambling to release their own versions of the curved-monitor form factor, Scientific Games is launching the next-generation of the concept—the TwinStar J43.
The heart of the new cabinet is the 43-inch vertical high-resolution LCD monitor, which features a curve toward the player at the bottom—it looks like the letter “J;” hence the name. Added to the unique shape is a higher resolution, improved processing power, and millennial-friendly features such as a USB port for smartphone charging.
“When you talk about the strength of the company, this is the epitome of it,” says Englman. “It’s a fantastic-looking piece of hardware, and will house the best brands of Bally, WMS and Shuffle Master. It’s going to be second to none, and we’re leading off with the strongest intellectual property we have.”
That strong IP, as usual, will include an extension of the uber-successful Bally Quick Hit franchise. Another popular format that has been much copied by competitors, Quick Hit pioneered the scatter-symbol-based multiple progressive, in which the range of progressives is tied to the number of jackpot symbols scattered on the reels.
On the J43, Scientific Games will launch Quick Hit Ultra Pays, a non-payline video slot with a reel configuration resulting in 776 ways to win on each spin.
Other exclusive games for the J43 include the WMS title Bier Haus: Heidi’s Haus, a new version of a longtime WMS hit with fun animation centered around a German tavern.
Dancing Drums from the Shuffle Master team also will make its debut on the J43. A Chinese-themed game featuring intricate artwork and graphics, it includes a free games feature where you can choose your reel array, and a five-level progressive jackpot.
Also on the J43 is Tetris, a 1,024-ways-to-win game with a bonus based on the arcade classic and mobile hit puzzle game; plus multi-line video entries Sword of Destiny and Angel Blade.
The J43 is one of three new form factors for TwinStar, which was launched at G2E 2015 as the first Scientific Games cabinet to house Bally, Shuffle Master and WMS content. That original TwinStar uses twin 24-inch displays and a 22-inch virtual topper, along with the iDeck 2, a new version of the Bally interactive touchpad, 40 percent larger and substantially brighter than the original.
Those features are retained by J43 and the other two new TwinStar cabinets, TwinStar Slant and TwinStar 3RM.
The TwinStar Slant is similar to the original Bally V27 slant, updated with the TwinStar technology and the Scientific Games branding. The TwinStar 3RM cabinet (for three-reel mechanical) brings the TwinStar features and operating system to the stepper category.
“Bally had a long history of vertical screen content,” says Englman, “and now the other game studios come aboard on these new vertical form factors. They are going to be very, very strong products for us.”
Expanding the Library
Scientific Games arrives at G2E with new titles for all the variations of the TwinStar format—as well as the Bally Pro Wave and Pro Theater, and the WMS Blade, GameField and GameScape cabinets.
For the TwinStar and TwinStar Slant video formats, highlights include Lock It Link, a two-level progressive system that has been one of the company’s big hits in Australia over the past year. It was introduced at G2E Asia in May with base games Bright Lights and Girl’s Best Friend. According to Colella, base games launched with it at G2E will be Night Life and Diamonds.
The base games feature the “Lock It Link Heart” re-spin feature. If fewer than three triggering symbols for the progressive bonus feature land, they lock in place and the reels re-spin for a second chance to trigger the bonus. “This is an extremely popular Australian product that we are now introducing to North America, and we feel it will be the star of our G2E lineup this year,” says Colella.
Other highlights on the video side include a new series of games from the company’s Asian design studios, called Tree of Wealth. Games including the launch title, Jade Eternity, are in a 243-ways-to-win format, with a four-level progressive jackpot triggered through a picking bonus.
Other G2E video highlights are Asian games Little Dragons and Dragons of the Four Seas, Golden Wheels, Sun Warrior, and a pair of new Quick Hit titles with wheel bonuses—Quick Hit Wild Red Super Wheel and Wild Blue Super Wheel. The company also will show titles from third-party design studio High 5 Games—Shadow Diamond Eve and Shadow Diamond Dawn—on the TwinStar format.
The new TwinStar 3RM is being launched with a collection of classic steppers based on tried-and-true Bally and WMS game brands. Front and center is Blazing 7s Gold, a beautiful new version of the classic Bally game with a free-spin feature added. Wild Times Rising is a classic stepper with free games and multipliers.
TwinStar 3RM also provides new versions of Bally classics Black Gold and Hot Triple 7s, the WMS game Life of Luxury, and the first stepper versions of the hit Bally video multi-progressive Fu Dao Le and WMS’ 88 Fortunes. “We took two of our best-performing video products and made them part of our portfolio of 3RM games,” Colella says. “It’s another example of the company flexing its muscles with all the proven stepper brands we have on the Bally side, and adding top WMS titles.”
The inaugural TwinStar portfolio will be accompanied at G2E by a wealth of content on all of Scientific Games’ other popular formats. On the Alpha Pro Wave, the company will feature both new titles and perfected versions of games initially previewed last year.
One of the highlighted new Pro Wave games is Blazing Dice, featuring an interactive video bonus in which the player “throws” dice across an arcade-style board, aiming at credit awards on a prize board. “This is an intricate second-screen bonus, included with mystery stacks and free games,” says Colella. “We’re excited about this game.”
Other new Pro Wave games at G2E will include titles Gold Slinger, Hot Hands, Tumblin’ Dice, Power Gems Egyptian Realm and Power Gems Indian Realm.
Among games being brought forward from initial preview at last year’s show are two hilarious games based on the legendary comedy Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Space Invaders, on the Blade S32 cabinet, with a skill bonus based on the famous arcade game.
Scientific Games is not forgetting its other legacy brand, Barcrest. The line of games, distinguished by carnival-style mechanical top-box bonus events, will be highlighted with new high-denomination titles Flipping Out! and Psycho Cashbeast.
As strong as the new content is in proprietary titles across all platforms, the heart of the Scientific Games G2E lineup will be a group of the strongest licensed brands of any slot manufacturer in the business.
It has been a particularly strong 2016 for the company’s branded licenses, with titles launched at last year’s show now reaching the market. In addition to Space Invaders and Monty Python, the company recently rolled out Kooza, the first slot machine ever to carry the theme of a famous Cirque du Soleil production, in this case the touring show Kooza, which premiered in 2007.
Kooza, the slot machine, recreates all the characters from the circus-themed road show, including “The Trickster,” who reprises the role of central character in the slot theme. It is on the Pro Wave 360 cabinet, which includes a circular bonus display atop a carousel of Pro Wave cabinets.
Other branded licenses launched last year and now entering into the marketplace are Michael Jackson Icon, the third game in the series celebrating the career of the late pop king; Monopoly Money, a high-denomination, wide-area progressive addition to the Monopoly franchise; and Cher Live!, featuring the pop star’s music on the Alpha Pro V22/32 cabinet. One new version of a previous title being launched at the show is The Godfather, a five-level progressive slot based on the iconic 1971 mob film, including a bonus in which the player spins the “Character Wheel.”
One branded game previewed last year that has since been perfected is The Simpsons, on the unique GameScape cabinet. GameScape uses triple LCD panels to create what is almost a private theater for the highly entertaining game, which uses a wealth of the funniest clips from the long-running animated comedy woven into bonuses.
It will be the second game launched on the GameScape format—the first was the wide-area progressive Willy Wonka-World of Wonka, launched at last year’s G2E on the GameScape with an integral bonus wheel.
These improved current brands will be joined this year by a strong lineup of branded premium games. Leading the way will be
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, which wraps the best of the popular 2004 comedy film starring Will Ferrell into a customized top-box version of the TwinStar cabinet, the TwinStar 24/43. The central feature takes the player up a film ladder display in the vertical top-box monitor, randomly landing on clips involving all the main characters in the film, which spoofed local news anchors.
The other big movie-themed premium slot this year is National Lampoon’s Vacation, which uses a version of the premium WMS wheel cabinet to tell the hilarious story of the Griswolds, and patriarch Clark Griswold’s struggles to get his family across the country for a vacation at Walley World in the iconic 1983 comedy directed by Harold Ramus and starring Chevy Chase.
All the high points in the movie are wrapped around bonus events—from Clark’s highway encounter with Christie Brinkley in the convertible to his encounter with the Walley World guard played by John Candy at the amusement park.
On the TV brand side is The Bachelor, a wide-area progressive with a mystery bonus featuring clips from the popular dating reality show. On the music side, Cash, featuring the music of country legend Johnny Cash, will be a major release on the Blade Stepper with Mechanical Wheel.
Footage and audio of all of Cash’s most famous songs are woven into bonuses in a stepper game with a video top box and a wheel bonus that can lead to one of four levels of progressive jackpots. In a clever touch, the four levels of the jackpots are marked by images of Cash at different stages of his career, from his early days at Sun Records until his time as the elder statesman of American roots music.
On the Pro Theater cabinet is Wacky Races, based on the 1968-71 cartoon series. Characters from the Saturday morning mainstay appear in reel symbols and wild reels, with audio and clips from the cartoon featured in bonuses, the main one a bonus race on an overhead display that fronts two individual machines.
Finally, the Scientific Games lineup this year will include unique hardware offerings being seen by the industry at large for the first time, headed up by the Prizm multi-player game. Prizm integrates four game terminals on a 65-inch, high-definition touch table surface, with a community bonus in the middle of the table.
Lightning Launch Roulette, with a virtual roulette wheel, will be displayed on the format at the show.
On the Pro Wave 360 will be another new Willy Wonka game.
Of course, all the new slot games will be accompanied by offerings from the table games, lottery and interactive divisions of the company, plus a portfolio of industry-leading Bally Systems products and peeks at future technology inside the “Innovation Lounge.”
Also on display will be the latest generation of “SG Universe,” a package of solutions designed to connect the player to the casino regardless of the channel being used. The SG Universe is offered as an omni-channel gaming experience, centered on players’ mobile devices. It also includes Play4Fun, the company’s white-label social casino offering.
But as usual, the heart of the massive Scientific Games booth will be the games themselves—214 slot machines, 11 table games, eight electronic table games, in new formats and new uses of existing formats.
“Last year was a big coming-out for us, because it was our first showing as an integrated company,” says Dan Savage, chief administrative officer of Scientific Games. “This second year is all about the products—how the teams are working together, how we have a ton of variety, and how deep and wide our portfolio is.
“There’s a lot to be excited about.”