International Game Technology has long been the leader as far as the sheer number of slot machines sold in North America and other markets. But for all of IGT’s success over the years, the company’s executives, game developers and engineers have never taken that success for granted.
For decades, IGT has maintained one of the most stringent test-bank programs in the business, checking and rechecking the performance value of each title before it is released to operators. The company has strived for improvement in each of its many product categories, expanding the feature set of each game according to what is hot in the overall slot market.
“Consistent with what we saw in the previous years,” says Domenico Pastia, IGT’s senior vice president, global product, “we’ve gone to the next level where we historically excel, such as video poker and mechanical reels, where we are significantly improving, just as we are in core video. In premium, we are confirming our commitment to Wheel of Fortune as our flagship brand but also doubling up on multi-level progressives, where we saw some successes in recent years.”
As usual, IGT will arrive at Global Gaming Expo with new offerings in all its cabinet and product groups. “What are we presenting at G2E? We’re presenting games that are proven such as Mystery of the Lamp in the Premium segment. We are presenting brands that are strong like Cleopatra and Top Dollar. We are innovating particularly in core video, and on the DiamondRS mechanical reel cabinet.”
Genie and the Lamp
IGT’s latest success began earlier this year with the launch of the new PeakCurve49 cabinet and its inaugural title, the multi-level progressive (MLP) slot Mystery of the Lamp.
The new cabinet, which will be highlighted with more new titles at G2E, features a 49-inch C-curve LCD monitor, with advanced graphics and ergonomic design.
Mystery of the Lamp has two core elements reflecting what’s been trending with players—a pot-style collection bonus and the hold-and-re-spin bonus that follows.
Three lamps sit above the three-by-five reel array for a pot-style collection feature. On base game Treasure Oasis, they are “Ignite,” “Double” and “Jackpot.” On the other inaugural title, Enchanted Palace, the lamps are “Boost,” “Jackpot” and “Collect.”
The lock-and-spin bonus event follows, on a field of 15 individual reels—30 if the Jackpot feature is activated. On both games, the Jackpot Lamp is triggered and gems are added to the hold-and-spin event which award collection icons for all five jackpots, including the top $10,000 progressive.
“We knew that game was strong,” says Pastia. “But on the new hardware it is performing even better. We are much closer to three times house average, and in many cases more, in terms of performance.” He adds that the game is IGT’s second straight hit in the multi-level progressive category, after last year’s Prosperity Link.
“Prosperity Link has been extremely important because it was the first title to prove that we are a serious contender in the MLP arena. I believe we are now the momentum leader in that segment.
“Mystery of the Lamp is a mix of trying a new concept as well as following some market trends. It has this element of persistence that helps the game performance, and we see that the player is attuned to that, but also the depth, and the bonus excitement.”
Mystery of the Lamp leads IGT’s lineup at G2E in the Premium category, where it shares the stage with several familiar IGT brands—headed, of course, by Wheel of Fortune.
“G2E wouldn’t be G2E without Wheel of Fortune,” Pastia says, adding that this summer, the company renewed its license to create games in the Wheel of Fortune brand in a 10-year deal with Sony Pictures Television. “The relationship with Sony has never been as strong as it is now,” says Pastia, “to the point that we are planning many initiatives to bring in new concepts.”
This year, it’s Wheel of Fortune Diamonds Deluxe, on the PeakSlant49 cabinet. It takes the famous brand and its famous wheel bonus into the modern era with a persistence pot bonus and chances for wheel upgrades when three or more bonus symbols land. All wild symbols throw coins to the bonus pot. The Diamond pot triggers a Jackpot Bonus, a match-three picking event, with another triggered event that takes the lower jackpots out of the picking bonus.
On the wide-area progressive (WAP) side, there are more familiar names, with Cleopatra Grand on the large-format Peak65 cabinet.
Cleopatra Grand has the familiar feel of the original Cleopatra, with an added lock-and-spin feature in the free-spin bonus. Free spins are on a five-by-five grid including a middle-reel multiplier and jackpots as well as cash-on-reels symbols. It is in a high-denomination ($1 to $25) package with four static jackpots that increase with the denomination. The top $500,000 jackpot is a wide-area progressive.
Top Dollar Grand, on the DiamondRS Premium cabinet, has all the appeal of the legendary IGT reel-spinner, with flashing cash stacks in a feature that returns up to three bonus offers the player can accept or reject, based on the cash prizes still left on the bonus display. The base game, Triple Diamond, is a solid choice in itself.
Also on the DiamondRS Premium cabinet is Diamond Jackpots Double Spin featuring 3X4X5X Pay, its name spelling out the multiplying wild symbols in a traditional three-reel game available in single-line, five-line, nine-line and 15-line setups.
“On the WAP side, our strength in steppers is confirmed,” Pastia says. “The recent DiamondRS releases are proving to be successful in refreshing the stepper platform.”
IGT is highlighting fresh products in both its Core Stepper and Core Video categories.
As for steppers, new core games are featured on another new cabinet. “For this product line, Anthony Baerlocher (vice president, innovation and mechanical reels) has been able through a modular approach to create a variation of the DiamondRS cabinet launched a year ago. It is a shorter version—the DiamondRS 27—that really resembles elements of the classic S2000 (mechanical reel cabinet). Some customers have commented that we finally found the next generation of the S2000.”
Leading the lineup of core stepper games is Double Chili Mania Respin, a game released this summer that has been topping Eilers-Fantini performance reports in the new-game category. “It is an evolution of the classic Double Chili Mania on the S3000 cabinet,” Pastia says. “Although it was designed to be a low-denomination game, it is also performing in high-limit rooms.”
In addition to low denominations, the 27-line game is appearing in high-limit rooms in 5-cent, 25-cent and $1 denominations. With a top max bet of 900 credits, the game has attracted big wagers.
As with all of the DiamondRS games, Double Chili Mania Respin features the Diamond Glass overlay system, which adds features to the mechanical reels. Here, a third-reel symbol on the game triggers a re-spin of the reels on which a video overlay adds multipliers to enhance the wins.
Also on the core stepper side are Double Diamond Deluxe and Triple Double Butterfly Sevens, reimagined versions of two of the most popular classic IGT reel-spinners. “Double Diamond Deluxe and Triple Double Butterfly Sevens are two strong titles that leverage the legacy of IGT, which we are trying to bring to the next level,” says Pastia.
In the Core Video category, another new cabinet is featured, the PeakCurve49. With a 49-inch curved monitor, it joins the PeakCurve27 and PeakSlant32 cabinets, with their lower sightlines. Many of the core video titles are available on two of these cabinets.
Launch titles on the PeakCurve49 include two game families, Magic Treasures and Samurai 888 Spin. Magic Treasures, with base games Dragon and Tiger, includes a pot-style collection feature leading to free games and/or a new feature with instant-pay Money Balls, which adds multipliers up to 5X. Samurai 888 Kenji and Sakura feature pots with Coin Boost, Reel Boost, and a Jackpot Bonus that spins a wheel for credit awards, extra free spins, feature upgrades, or one of four jackpots.
“Core Video is an area of growth for us,” Pastia says. “It’s an area in which we are not yet at the market share we want, but we have a true opportunity to rise higher in the rankings, with the release of the for-sale PeakCurve49.”
He says Magic Treasures represents a new concept. “It’s really an innovative concept that brings this persistence type of experience to the next level with what we refer to as a progressive cash feature. It’s a way of addressing the progressive with a new mechanic.”
Nick Khin, IGT chief operating officer, gaming, says Magic Treasures is “all over YouTube. There are several videos around Magic Treasures. Slot influencer Brian Christopher and others have played it extensively.”
Pastia adds that the influencers found the game early, when it was still on test banks. “This game is a beast, and we were really confident to use it as a launch title of the PeakCurve,” he says. “Our customers are asking for it because the word-of-mouth is spreading. This is a game that gives true premium performance to the for-sale business.”
Also on the PeakCurve49 is Kitty Glitter Grand, another revival of a classic IGT title that features a wheel enhancement.
IGT also is launching several games available for either the PeakSlant32 or PeakDual27. Dragon of Fortune features a dragon that nudges the reels to create winning combinations, or to turn entire reels wild. The dragon also feeds a growing coin pile that triggers one of three “Lantern Features”—Free Games, Jackpots or Win Multipliers.
Split & Win is a new umbrella game category that adds signature enhancements like the player-favorite lock-and-spin bonus experience. The first IGT title being offered evolves the classic IGT game Cats. The feature here is called “Hold & Split,” because money symbols representing cash-on-reels awards can split to award two prizes within one reel spot, counting toward the six symbols needed to trigger the hold-and-re-spin event. The three lower jackpots are included in the hold-and-re-spin bonus.
Another feline character hosts Chamber of Treasures, also available on the PeakSlant32 or PeakDual27, which again evolves the lock-and-spin experience to span across multiple game matrixes, offering more winning potential.
IGT always arrives at G2E with new additions to its industry-leading video poker division, and this year is no exception. It is headed by a new version of the Game King video poker platform that includes slots, blackjack and roulette games in addition to all the video poker offerings.
According to Darnell Johnson, senior director of product management, the new Game King program includes player-favorite single-hand video poker game titles, low- and high-denomination slots (including classics such as Black Rhino, Double Bucks and Super 8 Race), as well as new and classic keno games that continue to resonate well with players.
As usual, IGT will launch several new multi-hand video poker titles in partnership with Action Gaming, all with bonus features for an ante wager that does not affect the base-game pay table. One highlighted title is Multipliers Rising Poker, in which a hand-specific multiplier streak of 2X, 4X, 6X and 12X appears every 17 hands on average, and remains active for four hands.
Another highlighted title is Power Stacks Poker, which offers a feature that awards up to 16 free hands on a dealt Jacks-or-better or three-of-a-kind hand. After the cards are held, a “sticky” feature is applied when the same ranked card is drawn in the bonus hands. This card will replicate across remaining bonus hands, leading to repeat wins. Power Stacks is available as a stand-alone game on IGT’s portrait cabinets such as the CrystalCurve and PeakSlant49.
IGT’s booth exhibit at G2E will be rounded out with complete lineups of games in its electronic table-game range including the all-new MESA 4K terminal, new games for the Class II and VLT markets, and new offerings for the historical horse-racing operators.
“We are riding the wave of new cabinets with strong titles that both innovate, like the Double Chili Mania, and look back at the past. And in video poker, we stay on course,” says Pastia. “It’s incredible what the team has been able to achieve, both in terms of performance and recognition.
“We are comfortable and positive with our G2E offerings. The players and the customer will judge us, but we are where we want to be.”