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IGT, WMS join forces in server-based effort

Slot market leader International Game Technology and rival WMS Gaming last month announced an unprecedented cross-license agreement, with the joint goal of creating what would be the first open-architecture system to enable networked, or server-based, gaming.

The two vendors, normally fierce competitors, announced an agreement for a wide-ranging, non-exclusive cross-license of each other’s intellectual property and patents in creation of a server-based gaming network. “Open architecture” means the system would be set up to deliver the content of any slot manufacturer, either downloaded on demand from a central computer server to “dumb” terminals on the floor, or by storing content to be downloaded to machines containing the game logic, which would then operate as stand-alone games.

Both companies affirmed their commitment for product interoperability and the advent of an enterprise-wide networked gaming environment.

The agreement covers certain patents and intellectual property that address fundamental capabilities for computer and server-based infrastructure in the gaming industry, including IGT’s Alcorn authentication and encryption patents. Both companies are members of the Gaming Standards Association, and are committed to GSA standards and open network protocols.

“This agreement underscores the strong commitment by both companies to drive industry change, clearing the way to provide casino operators with significant new benefits and players with innovative gaming experiences enabled by the advanced technology of networked gaming,” said Brian R. Gamache, president and CEO of WMS. “With this agreement, the foundation is in place to offer the next generation of innovative products personalized for players and unique, world-class applications and services for our customers that will drive enhanced financial returns.”

TJ Matthews, chairman and CEO of IGT, added, “This agreement will provide the momentum for both companies to achieve their common vision-a revolution in networked gaming applications, player features and casino entertainment. The agreement accelerates the introduction of innovative, value-add applications previously announced by IGT and WMS, such as IGT’s award-winning sb Service Window.”

IGT is developing a complete set of individualized sb (server-based) products and services to maximize profitability across an entire casino, and WMS has recently released several slot products, such as the “Big Event” series, that are designed for a server-based environment.

The Big Event series, in fact, consists of individual server-based banks of slots. Slots in each bank are linked to a server, and all linked slots enter a common bonus event at once. It is one of several slots designed for a networked environment, including “Transmissive Reels,” a hybrid that will allow reel-spinning games to adapt to quick, downloaded changes thanks to a transparent video overlay on top of the reels; and several other new game concepts.

WMS developed these products after purchasing technology from Cyberview Technologies, which was the first supplier to gain GLI certification for a server-based slot system. In a separate development last month, officials of IGT and Cyberview confirmed that they have initiated talks that could result in IGT’s acquisition of Cyberview.

The IGT/WMS agreement on server-based technology comes around a year after a similar joint effort of competitors was announced, when Bally Technologies and Aristocrat Technologies began working jointly on open-architecture server-based technology.

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