For Konami Gaming, Inc., the tumultuous year 2020 drew attention away from product introductions that will define the company’s products for years.
Perhaps the most significant of these introductions was the launch of the Dimension series of cabinets, which was officially under way only weeks before last year’s industry shutdowns when the company unveiled Dimension 49J, along with the game series All Aboard.
Since Konami R&D kept going during the shutdowns, the company continued its development of the Dimension series, along with games designed specifically for those new cabinets—first Dimension 49J, with its central 49-inch J-curved monitor, to be followed later last year as casinos reopened with the Dimension 27, a core video cabinet utilizing three 27-inch screens; and Dimension 49, the portrait version of the series with a 49-inch flat-screen monitor.
This year, as Konami introduces its customers to the new Dimension 75C and its massive 75-inch curved main monitor, the company is seeing the blossoming of the cabinet series, as innovative new content has poured out of Konami’s development studios to maximize the potential of each of the new form factors.
As of August 2021, the core Dimension 49 had rested atop the Eilers-Fantini Game Performance Report in the for-sale category for four straight months as the top-performing portrait cabinet in the industry. In the premium leased category, Dimension 49J and its the two inaugural game families, All Aboard and Ocean Spin, were also consistently near the top of industry performance reports.
Game releases so far this year have continued the momentum of the Dimension games leading up to Global Gaming Expo 2021, when the company will display new content for all the cabinets in the series.
“Konami noted some big successes,” says Tashina Wortham, Konami Gaming’s marketing communications manager. “We have All Aboard premium, and the Dimension 49J premium both high on the industry performing charts month after month, and then the SYNKROS casino management system and its cashless and cardless functions also gaining a ton of traction with our casino customers.”
Wortham says this year’s focus is to continue the momentum in all product categories. “How do we take those big wins and translate them to make them even bigger and better for our customers?” she says. “You’re going to see even more Dimension premium product and content. You’re going to see even more SYNKROS technology in terms of cashless, cardless, and compliance. We believe that Konami is in a state of very strong product, strong people and strong partnerships.”
At G2E, new content will be highlighted in all the established categories, plus new markets such as historical horse racing, for which Konami signed partnership agreements with Ainsworth and Exacta Systems taking Konami content into HHR markets.
“We successfully expanded into the HHR market this year, which is huge,” says Wortham. “Also, we see Class II, VLT and VGTs as strategic expansion areas for Konami, as we actively investigate and invest in those areas.”
Meanwhile, the popular SYNKROS casino management system is spreading its footprint, most recently as the system of choice for the new Resorts World Las Vegas on the Strip.
Wortham credits the stability of Konami’s slot and system business to one of the most longstanding teams of veterans in the business at the top. “We have very tenured, consistent leadership,” she says. “The combined Konami experience of the six people in our C-Suite stands at over 80 years.”
The Konami roadmap of products is swelling quickly in all product categories. For the premium Dimension 49J, the success of All Aboard was followed by more success with its follow-up on the cabinet, Ocean Spin, released in March.
“Ocean Spin is out in the field and doing phenomenally well,” says Andrew Culverson, regional product marketing manager for Konami.
Ocean Spin, with base games Kingdom’s Treasures and Pirate’s Riches, features a wheel bonus triggered by six cash-on-reels coin symbols. The total amount of the coin values is tallied, and the wheel spins to a multiplier applied to the coin total.
In the second quarter, Konami released two new versions of the All Aboard game series, All Aboard: Go West! and All Aboard: Masked Warrior. Both include the popular All Aboard train feature. Go West! features a free-game event in which symbols obscured by stage doors open to reveal either wild horse symbols or All Aboard train symbols.
Masked Warrior, themed around feudal Japan, features a mighty ninja character with special doors in the free games opening to reveal wild ninja symbols or the All Aboard train symbol.
As in the original, when the All Aboard feature is triggered, all the train symbols transform into credit awards. After the win is registered, the credit awards remain in place on the reel array and all other spots become independent reels, re-spinning for three free spins. Each time an additional train symbol lands, it reveals a new credit award, and all of the credits on the board are awarded again. The free-spin count returns to three, and the feature continues, re-awarding the total credits on the board with each new train symbol.
“These additional All Aboard titles allow the casinos to refresh their banks with additional titles,” Culverson says. “By Q1 2022, we’ll have approximately an additional 20 titles in the premium lineup that we’ll release to the market.” This includes another Ocean Spin game, and the high-denomination All Aboard Gold Express.
The latter includes the inaugural All Aboard titles, Dynamite Dash and Piggy Pennies, in multiple higher denominations with a Grand Jackpot progressive resetting at $50,000 or $100,000.
At G2E, more new Dimension 49J premium titles will be launched, including the showcase game Lucky Envelope. It is a linked progressive slot with a 243-ways-to-win base game and four jackpot levels that scale by denomination. Wild red envelope symbols on the first two reels can randomly trigger a jackpot pick game. The player chooses from 30 red envelopes to match three icons for a guaranteed jackpot.
Players can also win an instant Mini or Minor award through the game’s Coin Feature. During primary play, the Coin Feature is triggered by collecting a red envelope on reels 1 and 2 in conjunction with coin credit prize symbols on reels 3, 4, and 5. The free game feature takes the Coin Feature even further, by only requiring a red envelope on reel 1, with coin credit prizes available across all the remaining reels. The series launches with base games Plum Riches and Jade Wealth.
The Big 75C
This year, the premium leased category welcomes the newest version of the Dimension cabinet series, the Dimension 75C, featuring a huge 75-inch curved monitor. “About 30 percent of the monitor is touchscreen-enabled,” says Culverson. “This will take all of our premium Dimension 49J content—we can port it over to this cabinet.”
That process has already begun. Konami arrives at G2E having developed Dimension 75C versions of all four All Aboard games—Piggy Pennies, Dynamite Dash, Go West! and Masked Warrior.
Culverson says while the footprint of the Dimension 75C is slightly larger than the 49J, “it still has a decent footprint because of the curved backs. You can still get that tighter pod configuration.
“It has all the edge lighting, and the KXP platform, like the other Dimension products. Our first placement was in Southern California, followed by a Las Vegas Strip location. They’re both doing extremely well.”
All the Dimension 75C products offer custom-branded bank filler displays and overhead signage.
“Provided you have the content to support the installations, the large-footprint machines typically go on the floor and stay for a significant period of time,” says Tom Jingoli, Konami’s executive vice president and chief operating officer.
“We have a robust lineup of game themes with the two premium content titles we’re releasing—All Aboard and Ocean Spin could stay out there for years, as you’ve seen with some of the other large-format cabinets.”
“Our premium Dimension 49J content will reside on the Dimension 75C; we’re going to stay true to that strategy for a while,” says Jay Bertsch, Konami’s senior vice president and chief commercial officer.
“We’re going to make sure that we have a good backlog of titles to serve our customers that are in it for the long haul on the premium side. It’s an investment by our customers, and we’re making sure that they can capitalize on that.
“That being said, we have some phenomenal products on the for-sale side as well.”
The for-sale libraries of the other two Dimension products, Dimension 49 and Dimension 27, are being augmented just as quickly and thoroughly as the premium products.
The first game on the Dimension 49 cabinet, Fortune Mint, is in the field now, and according to Culverson, “doing phenomenal” numbers.
Fortune Mint features coin symbols that transform to random multipliers and jackpot symbols when appearing in a highlighted section of the reel frame. The game displays a giant glowing coin across the upper part of the screen.
Any coin symbols that land in the center three reels can transform to 10X, 3X, or 2X multipliers, for wins multiplied up to a maximum of 1,000X. There also is a “Question Mark” feature, in which coin symbols on the center reels display question marks and transform to multipliers or instant progressive prizes.
The launch titles are Fu Gui You Yu and Fu Xing Gao Zhao.
Fu Gui You Yu features a mix of red color hues during the primary game, bursting into gold during the free-game feature. As players enter the free-game event, reel 1 is boosted with a wave of additional coin symbols, increasing potential for winning symbol combinations.
Fu Xing Gao Zhao is an available complement to Fu Gui You Yu. This original title features 2X wins during the free games.
During G2E, Konami is promoting new games on the Dimension 49 including Jackpot Orbs, a new symbol-driven progressive series featuring lucky orb symbols across all reels, each assigned a number digit. Whenever digits combine in a string of three or more orbs on a
pay line, the player is awarded the displayed amount as an instant credit prize—with wins up to 90,000 credits.
Orbs in the center reel can also randomly display a Mini, Major, Mega or Maxi award, which will be awarded over and above the credit prize when appearing in combination with a winning number symbol pay. Launch titles are Jackpot Orbs Fortune and Jackpot Orbs Wealth.
Also coming this year on the Dimension 49 will be Rising Diamond, featuring a unique expanding reel mechanic that takes advantage of the tall portrait screen.
There are two unique game iterations: Pink Edition and Blue Edition. Wild diamond symbols that appear in the middle three reels are colored pink or blue. Every time a wild diamond symbol lands on the reels, the player is rewarded—with an expanded reel frame and/or the free game feature.
On the Dimension 27 triple-screen cabinet, Konami is showcasing game groups including Mystical Pearl and Panda Power.
Mystical Pearl games feature an undersea-themed linked progressive focused on collecting simmering pearl symbols, for a “Stay & Spin” bonus that can lead to one of four jackpots—fixed Mini and Minor prizes and progressive Major and Grand prizes.
Any time throughout primary play or the free games, the hero character can randomly deliver additional pearl symbols to the reels, increasing the odds of triggering the Stay & Spin feature.
Any six or more Pearls will trigger the feature, where players have the chance to win random credit prizes or one of the jackpots. Mystical Pearl has two compatible base game options: Mystical Pearl Mermaid and Mystical Pearl Neptune.
Also at G2E and targeted for release this year is Panda Power, an original new linked progressive jackpot series combining popular Konami base games on the lower screen—including Dragon’s Law Twin Fever, Lion Carnival, Solstice Celebration and Thunder Warrior—with both a bonus reel frame and a bonus wheel shown on the middle and top screens respectively—effectively leveraging all three game screens to deliver different game play experiences.
When three or more Panda Power symbols land on the primary reels, the Panda Power Feature is awarded. The middle bonus reel frame is activated, and players receive one spin on a reel filled with only panda face symbols and blank symbols. Depending on how many panda faces land at the end of the spin, the player is awarded a corresponding number of bonus spins. The player then moves to the prize wheel in the top screen where they have the chance at a guaranteed additional prize beyond the awarded bonus spins.
“This has a unique two-level progressive,” comments Culverson. “This is the first game we’ve released that has a feature on every single screen. The player will hit the feature in the base game, and it will go up to the second monitor for a Panda Power feature where it lines up the pandas and determines the number of bonus spins. And then it will go to that top box and spin the wheel to determine either a multiplier or progressive. We’re utilizing the entire three-screen display.”
Culverson says Konami also is adding classic titles from earlier formats to the Dimension 27. Celestial Moon Riches and Celestial Sun Riches Eclipse, first released on the Concerto cabinet and still doing very well in the field, will be displayed at the show on the Dimension 27. The original games are presented as an expanded “Eclipse” series with an added hold-and-re-spin feature.
“The exciting thing about where Konami is with respect to the platform is that much of the Dimension hardware extends across the entire product set,” says Bertsch. “We’re in a great spot from the supply chain side, based on the way that engineering has designed it all. Other than the fact that it’s a different button deck on the 75, it’s pretty much the same entire platform across the portfolio, which is great.”
All the game advances are augmented by the advances in SYNKROS. The system is still growing its footprint across the industry, and is the CMS of choice for some of the biggest operators in the industry, including the new Resorts World Las Vegas, which can tap into all SYNKROS modules.
That includes the cashless module, Money Klip. Using this function, players simply load funds to their loyalty account at the cage or an interfaced TITO kiosk, for secure digital transactions directly at the gaming machine. Players simply insert their card at the machine and enter their secure PIN. Upon successful verification, a message will appear confirming that the cashless wagering account is enabled, and players are invited to click the money icon to enter how much cash they wish to bring into the game from their Money Klip. When the card is removed from the machine after play, any remaining balance is transferred back into their Money Klip account.
Players can even spend their digital funds at non-gaming outlets like property restaurants and bars.
Konami has also gotten industry praise for SYNK31, the comprehensive Title 31 Anti-Money Laundering (AML) system that allows SYNKROS administrators to gather, track, review, and complete all AML requirements. This system is developed as CMS-agnostic and is being offered to operators with competing casino management systems.
Konami will have a reduced presence at G2E this year, but Jingoli says they are making up for that through technology shown at Resorts World Las Vegas, just down the Strip from the Venetian Expo Center.
“We’ll have our system there, with some of our latest, greatest technology when it comes to cashless,” Jingoli says. “We’ll be doing events there after the show so we can take our customers over there and show them the system and products at work in a live environment.
“We’re positioned very well. The system side of the business has had a record year, and we’re well into another great year.”