Jon Hanlin leads product and marketing strategy for the gaming operations division of Aristocrat Technologies, and he has wide operations experience with Caesars Entertainment. Hanlin explains how games were paired with the new Edge-X cabinet and why they were chosen. He spoke with GGB Publisher Roger Gros at the new Aristocrat headquarters in Las Vegas in March.
Tell us about the new Edge-X cabinet.
We’re excited about the Edge-X cabinet in the premium video category. There have been a lot of advances in the bigger slot machines, and we look at this cabinet as a smaller version of those “jumbos.” The key in this cabinet is providing the player with a more intimate experience than the very large machines.
The Edge-X has two 43-inch curved screens in the “landscape” or horizontal position placed on top of each other. If you think back to our Arc Double cabinet, which has two screens positioned vertically on top of each other, these are horizontal. And what that provides is a very cinematic experience that extends all the way across your peripheral vision. It allows our game designers a really amazing palate.
And it gives the players a little more elbow room since it’s wide instead of tall.
Yes, that’s one of the key attributes that’s going to make this cabinet popular. We’re also using our revolutionary i-Bench technology, which is a connected bench that allows couples to game together. It allows people to spread out and have a more comfortable experience while playing.
Did you want it to be grouped together in a carousel setup?
Yes, it’s the legacy of our Wonder Wheel cabinet that was wall-based and meant to be grouped together. We were very keen on making the Edge-X bankable—something that would sit in the center of the casino floor and attract attention. Casinos are being more opportunistic about putting these kinds of machines where customers can see them. We built this with the expectation we could do three-pods or back-to-back. If someone wants to go bigger, we have that capacity.
Player engagement is always what you’re seeking with new cabinets. How does that work with the Edge-X?
Even though it’s a large cabinet, it’s a private feeling because you feel engrossed in the game. It takes up so much of your eye-line and it has such a cinematic feel that you feel like you’re playing alone or with your partner.
What games are you launching with the Edge-X?
At Aristocrat, we have some great licensed titles that are a little on the darker side—Mad Max, Walking Dead, etc. With the Edge-X, we decided to go with a little more brighter palate that has a different feel.
Madonna is a great example of that cinematic feel. There’s a very acute awareness of what Madonna is, her songs, her images and her videos, which we use extensively in the game. That is key to that game. You get engrossed in her early career. The Edge-X has a very big button panel—the biggest we’ve ever made. When you try to find ways to engage players, we’ve added a karaoke screen where you can read the words and sing along with the game. It’s an example of bringing the player engagement into the panel.
FarmVille is a very successful online social and slot game. It has a huge following and a collection of great characters and art. We picked these two titles because they were vibrant and cheerful. But of course, we’ll follow it up with our newest Mad Max title and get back to the darker side.