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IGT

IGT moves forward with new offerings in every product category as its innovation translates into big revenues

IGT

International Game Technology PLC has many worldwide businesses—lottery, sports betting technology, casino management systems and cashless technology among them. But none is more important than the slot business on which IGT was built over the past five decades.

And while the company may have conceded market share to a growing number of competitors over the years, there is still not a company that sells more slot machines than IGT.

Perhaps it’s because the variety of products in every category always grows. Every year at the Global Gaming Expo, IGT can be counted on for a parade of new cabinets, new game categories, and new products in core video, premium video, mechanical-reel steppers, video poker, electronic table games, systems and more. This year will be no different.

Nick Khin, IGT’s chief operating officer, global gaming, says this year’s G2E display will reflect hard work and creativity that has boosted results throughout the past two years.

“I’m really proud of our progress over the last 18 months,” Khin says. “And it’s really showing through in our results. In the second quarter, we reported a 20 percent increase in our gaming revenues versus 2021.

“Once again, IGT leads the way in terms of unit sales here in North America. Nobody sells more than IGT, and we’ve been in this position since 2019. IGT tops the charts in terms of unit sales in in any given quarter.”

Those numbers, he says, are the result of a constant reinvestment in R&D in all product areas. This year has seen the launch of a new stepper cabinet, the DiamondRS—the successor to the S3000, which was launched nearly eight years ago—and the rollout of the new large-format cabinet, the Peak65. At G2E, the company will introduce its new PeakDual 27 core video cabinet.

Much of the content on the new cabinets represents encore performances of some of the company’s most famously successful brands.

“Last year, we talked a lot about increasing our focus and our investment in premium,” Khin says, “and in particular, in the multi-level progressives area. Today, we have a number of really high-performing MLPs in the market.”

Successful titles like Prosperity Link, Wheel of Fortune Wild Spins, Lucky Coin Links, Wolf Run Eclipse and other MLPs will be augmented this year with a number of G2E launch games. “We are going to be once again showcasing a significant number of new MLPs in both the for-sale area and the premium segments,” says Khin. “You can expect to see us continue that level of focus.”

Wide-area progressives represent another growing area, he says. “We’ve always been leaders in in wide-area progressives, especially in the mechanical reel category,” Khin says. “In fact, if you look at recent Eilers performance reports, we dominate the the WAP space. And over the last 12 months, we’ve launched a lot of new WAPs into the market, both in the mechanical-reel area and in the video segment.”

Other highlights of IGT’s business that will be on display at G2E include more new video poker, the CrystalFlex Terminal—which combines slot, keno and video poker games with live sports betting—and new systems hardware.

Called Avento, the new hardware offers a faster, more powerful CPU processor, and will be replacing current in-game hardware. Khin says it’s “ready for prime time.”

Also on the system side, IGT will unveil its new VLT central monitoring system, Intelligen Evo, with new architecture and a new database setup. “It will allow operators access to a lot more data than they currently get today,” Khin says. “In fact, it will give them access to spin-level data.”

An additional highlight from the system portfolio will be the company’s IGT Advantage casino management system and its integral cashless solution, Resort Wallet with IGTPay.

Core Video

The business of core video this year begins with the new hardware, the PeakDual 27. It features two 27-inch monitors with a 27-inch video topper, but what makes it unique is that the main screen is a curved display.

“The slightly curved main display is new to the market,” says Roger Pettersson, vice president, core video, PMM and market research for IGT. “This has a little bit softer viewing angle. There’s a bit less glare as well, with the curvature of the screen—just overall a more comfortable playing experience. This has never been tried by anybody, globally, and we feel that it’s not a gimmick; it’s really improving the viewing angle and the ability of the player to be more comfortable at the machine.”

The cabinet offers a lower profile than the legacy CrystalDual 27 cabinet, with a lower back and a better line of sight. There is a large digital panel that improves the player interface.

“We’re really excited about this cabinet, and we’ve got a lot of great content for it,” Pettersson says. Four launch titles will be shown at G2E, including brand extensions on some of the most popular games in IGT’s history.

Fortune Coin Extra reprises one of IGT’s highest-performing games. “Fortune Coin has been one of our best games over the past six years in North America,” says Pettersson. “This is a key brand extension for us.”

The new version reprises the original’s coin collection feature, and “Coin Boosts” that increase the value of the cash-on-reels coins. It adds extra free games and a jackpot picking bonus with the low jackpots removed. It also adds a red coin to the collectible gold coins in the base game.

“This extra coin does a lot of different things,” says Pettersson. “It gives you coin boost multipliers. It gives you extra coins. You can actually get into the jackpot bonus through these extra coins, and you can get the low jackpots to be removed.”

The Lucky Larry’s Lobstermania franchise is revived on the PeakDual 27 with the twin games Lucky Larry’s Lobstermania 5 Link and Super Sally’s Shrimpmania Link.

The new Lucky Larry game—with a player-selectable multi-denom setup—adds a buy-a-pay feature called “Treasure Zone.” In the active Treasure Zone, treasure chest symbols open to reveal cash awards. At the minimum bet, only the first reel is the Treasure Zone. At max bet, the zone covers all five reels.

“We’re taking this classic popular brand and bringing it forward for today’s modern players,” says Pettersson. “The treasure chests are instant pays if you have that reel purchased, and they can get pretty exciting on some of these amounts.”

The hold-and-spin feature on the new game is triggered with only one scatter symbol. “The hold-and-spin comes with multipliers, which adds a lot more volatility and excitement to that bonus,” Pettersson says.

The game also reprises the popular Buoy Bonus, but as “Buoy Bonus Deluxe.” In addition to the comical sequence in which a wisecracking Larry tosses lobsters overboard to light up bonuses in buoys in the water, there are three separate sub-bonuses—a Pirate Bonus treasure picking event, a Dolphin Bonus that multiplies the buoy amounts, and a hilarious UFO Bonus, in which Larry is sucked up into an alien vessel (along with some cows).

Looking at the PeakSlant49 content, IGT is showcasing Cats Wild Serengeti and Fu Gui Hao Men II, both reprisals of historically successful titles. The new Cats theme is a partner game to the popular Wolf Run Eclipse, with the same progressive free-spin bonus. The new Fu Gui Hao Men title features a hold-and-spin bonus played out on an expanded reel array.

“We’re showing over 40 unique themes at G2E this year in core video,” Pettersson says. “We have a very robust lineup, and our show is shaping up quite nicely.”

Mechanical Reels

On the mechanical stepper side, the star will be the new DiamondRS cabinet, which has been in the market since early summer. It features a new generation of transmissive reels technology called “Diamond Glass,” designed to look like traditional slot glass, that allows a stepper cabinet to host multiple payline configurations on the same cabinet—essentially, a multi-game, multi-denomination mechanical reel-spinning slot.

As with the new core video games, the top games so far on the new DiamondRS format are revivals of IGT classics—Pinball and Double Top Dollar. “I don’t think there’s any surprises there,” says Khin. “We knew both of those games were going to do well.”

Two more brand extensions will be launched at G2E—Diamond Jackpots Super Times Pay and Double 3X4X5X Pay Double Double Wheel.

Both games super-charge the multiplying-wild-symbol genre created by IGT. Diamond Jackpots offers wild symbol multiplying pays up to 10X, and adds a fourth-reel bonus in the top box. 3X4X5X includes all the interactive multiplying wild symbols of the original along with a two-level bonus wheel—credits and multipliers.

“We’ve been asked for these classic themes time and time again, so we are listening and binging them over the best way possible,” says Royall Freestone, IGT’s product manager, mechanical reels. “We’re taking those classic themes and adding features, but still staying true to the legacy brands as close as we can.”

Freestone adds that the DiamondRS technology broadens the capabilities of the stepper format. “We’ve really been able to be innovative and do new things we’ve never been able to do before in mechanical reels,” she says.

That is evident in Fortune Storm, a new theme on the DiamondRS that will be featured at G2E. The game features a top-box bonus wheel shaped like a giant “8.” “We’re not calling it a wheel; we’re calling it a ‘track,’” says Freestone. “It features a very exciting use of the transmissive technology, with lightning appearing on the reels. The track awards credits, jackpots or free games.” Triggering the free games triggers a guaranteed spin on the “8 track.”

“We dominate the premium mechanical reel space,” says Khin. “If you look at the Eilers lists, 18 of the 25 top games are IGT games. And we don’t take this leadership position lightly. We continue to invest in in that segment.”

Premium Video

The IGT lineup of premium video slots this year is the result of intense investment in R&D to achieve three strategies, according to Boris Hallerbach, director of product management, premium content for IGT.

The first is the multi-level progressive strategy noted by Khin. “Prosperity Link is out there and doing incredibly well,” says Hallerbach. “We’re looking to show the depth of our portfolio at G2E this year with additional titles and some key brands.”

Next was increased investment in the video wide-area progressive. “This has been a key strategy for us over the last three years, to invest more R&D into the video WAP segment,” he says. Finally, with the 25th anniversary year just concluded for the Wheel of Fortune brand, the company continues to pump out new entries into the storied franchise.

All of the highlight games in this year’s premium video lineup—on premium cabinets like Peak65, Peak32 and PeakSlant49—as in other segments, draw upon past successful brands. In this case, brand extensions revive Fort Knox, Cleopatra, Hoodoo Link, Sphinx, and of course, Wheel of Fortune.

Fort Knox Heist “adds a really interesting Lock & Respin evolution to the Fort Knox library,” says Hallerbach. “It has a point-collection mechanic, much like the original Fort Knox did in the bonus, but you’re unlocking vaults in Lock & Respin bonus to make it even more exciting for players. The blackout mechanism that players have become accustomed to in the Lock & Respin bonuses really plays out nicely in the Fort Knox bonus.”

IGT reprises the spooky Hexbreaker theme with Hoodoo Link, in the MultiWAY format with expanding reels. A “Luck Zone” awards progressives and bonuses, and the game incudes an “Unlimited Free Games” feature. The expanding reel feature grows symbol rows toward credit awards and a four-level jackpot.

In the wide-area progressive segment are Cleopatra Grand and Money Mania Sphinx Fire. Cleopatra Grand features a Lock & Respin feature that adds rows of symbols on an expanding array to “unlock” progressives, leading up to a top wide-area prize resetting at $500,000.

“Cleopatra Grand is debuting on our Peak65 hardware,” says Hallerbach. “It’s the best large-format hardware on the market today, according to Eilers. But we’re taking a really great brand in Cleopatra and bringing some great evolution into the game. It features multiple bonuses that are engaging.”

The Money Mania offering uses the Sphinx theme in a game featuring a Lock & Respin feature that travels up a ladder as cash-on-reels symbols lock to win credit awards on the way to four progressive levels, the top resetting at $100,000.

Finally, the Wheel of Fortune franchise is repeated on the Peak65 with Wheel of Fortune Lucky Coins, with a math model based on the hit Coin-O-Mania and featuring mystery wedge symbols in the base game that trigger a wild feature and free-spin awards.

“This takes a great base game mechanic from our core library in Coin-O-Mania and brings that forward into the Wheel of Fortune universe,” says Hallerbach.

Video Poker

In the video poker segment, some of the offerings, as in other game groups, exploit great hardware—in this case, the PeakBarTop, the advanced and ergonomically designed bar-top unit launched three years ago.

“The PeakBarTop continues to to grow in terms of strength and performance,” says Khin. “It outperforms our older bar-top product, and of course, it

really outperforms anything that’s out there in terms of competitor bar-top product.”

Brad Fredella, senior manager, content management, global poker for IGT, notes that while the bar-top unit is still on the rise after three years, the company continues to roll out new content consisting of specialty multi-hand video poker on the hardware occupying the main slot floor.

“The PeakBarTop has been extraordinarily successful for us,” Fredella says. “But even as we rolled out the PeakBarTop, we had already rolled out the CrystalSlant poker cabinet, still a mainstay in the business. More recently we started rolling out in big numbers with the Cobalt cabinet, which is the upright cabinet that we use for video poker.”

Video poker games also are now offered on the CrystalCurve cabinet.

As usual, IGT will highlight several new specialty video poker games that offer bonus features and multipliers in exchange for extra wagers, maintaining the original pay schedules for each poker variation.

At the top of this year’s list is Fortune X Poker, with a random multiplier bonus occurring an average of once every nine games. When the “X” mode is triggered, wins on the subsequent five hands can get a multiplier from 2X to 12X.

“There’s a random trigger that activates a string of multipliers,” says Fredella. “You’ll get the option to use a 2X multiplier on the first hand, after you see what the dealt hand is. If you don’t want to use it, you progress to the next hand, which is a 3X. And it goes right up the line to 5X, 8X, to 12X. The key is that when I decide to use a multiplier, it will end that streak.”

Big City 4s Poker borrows the growing-pot feature from the VLT game Big City 5s. In the poker version, three-of-a-kind and full-house hands grow pot values, and a four-of-a-kind hand triggers the bonus for a minimum 150 credits.

Poppin’ Multipliers Poker features a random bonus on either the deal or the draw. Multipliers are randomly awarded on one or more hands in the multi-hand setup that increase wins from 2X to 10X. A bonus on the deal multiplies all hands on the screen. This bonus, for an extra per-hand wager of three credits, hits between every 1.5 and 3.5 plays.

The CrystalSlant and Cobalt cabinets will feature a new multi-game poker program called Mega Hot Poker. It will feature nine titles, with a mix of proven and new games. “Our All Star and Super Star multi-game programs are named that way because all content is proven, star performers,” says Fredella. “Mega Hot Poker is a mix of each—classic hits that are proven performers like Hot Roll Poker and Split Card Poker, with newer games like Super Hot Roll an Double Big Wheel.”

At G2E, the company will roll out a new keno package called Keno Star. “This is a multi-game set with many of our great four-card keno games and the new eight-card keno game,” says Khin.

The PeakBarTop also will soon have the option to offer sports betting and video poker, as will IGT’s CrystalFlex terminal. “We have received a lot of feedback from operators and players on what we could do to improve that offering,” says Khin. “We took that feedback and over the last 12 months we’ve been working on a new player interface for both the PeakBarTop with sports betting and the CrystalFlex Terminal.”

VLTs, ETGs and More

In addition to all the traditional casino categories, IGT will use G2E to display its games for video lottery terminal markets, where it is the clear leader.

“As you know, IGT is an absolute powerhouse in VLT,” says Khin. “We are No. 1 in almost every VLT market in in North America. We have a dedicated team that only works on and develops VLT content. This year at G2E, we’re launching extensions to some of our most popular and highest-performing VLT games that are out there in the market.”

One of those games is Big City 5s, which inspired the Big City 4s poker game. “We’ve just come out with an evolution of Big City 5s called Big City 5s Diamond Jackpot,” says Khin. “We just placed it in Oregon, and it’s performing over 400 percent.”

Finally, the company has expanded its lineup of electronic table games, which are featured on yet another new cabinet, the Dynasty View. This year, the company will launch its Hybrid package, its first ETG offering to include both live-dealer and RNG table games. All this will complement IGT PlayDigital’s portfolio of iGaming and sports betting solutions.

“In addition to the new Dynasty View cabinet, we’re also going to be showing new hardware,” says Brandon Bruno, director of sales, ETG. “We have an adjustable wheel housing that is brand new and some new custom signage to go along with it.

“But the big thing is that blend of being able to offer a live-dealer product while also offering operators the ability to run RNG/virtual content either simultaneously or in a stand-alone unit.”

In all, it’s a mind-boggling array of product on tap for IGT. Says Khin, “The bottom line here is that we are hoping we continue to demonstrate to our customers the significant positive momentum that we have, and that we continue to have in almost every line of business that we that we operate.”

Frank Legato is editor of Global Gaming Business magazine. He has been writing on gaming topics since 1984, when he launched and served as editor of Casino Gaming magazine. Legato, a nationally recognized expert on slot machines, has served as editor and reporter for a variety of gaming publications, including Public Gaming, IGWB, Casino Journal, Casino Player, Strictly Slots and Atlantic City Insider. He has an B.A. in journalism and an M.A. in communications from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. He is the author of the books, How To Win Millions Playing Slot Machines... Or Lose Trying, and Atlantic City: In Living Color.  

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