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Konami Gaming

Konami Gaming expands into Class II and HHR markets while riding the success of its Dimension series of cabinets

Konami Gaming

Konami Gaming, Inc. always produced great content. Through several evolutions of hardware and technology, the one constant has been game content that players love.

That’s one reason Konami, as it prepares to launch what will be its largest cabinet, the Dimension 75C, will keep the emphasis on the games the large-format cabinet will host. These days, in addition to pumping out brand-new content, Konami is hearkening back to its past, pulling out the game features and mechanics of some of its most popular historic games and bringing them to the modern Dimension platform.

“Our Class III business continues to be solid,” says Tom Jingoli, Konami’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “The Dimension series has been a really good product line for us, whether it’s the 49J, the 49 flat or the 75C, which we’re getting ready to launch. The focus has been on content.”

That’s not just new content, but new and improved versions of Konami classics. “If you go back to when we probably had our most successful launch with the Podium, we just had so much great content on that form factor, and you still see that box out there now,” Jingoli says. “So that’s what the focus has been the past year. We are really focused on content right now, and on bringing back some of those titles for the newer cabinets.”

“Our customers specifically have told us that it’s not about the latest, greatest bells and whistles,” adds Jay Bertsch, Konami Gaming senior vice president and chief commercial officer. “What we’ve heard over the last couple of quarters is they want more of the same—meaning they want those bread-and-butter games that we’ve always done an extremely good job with.”

The strategy has put Konami in a position of strength as it prepares for G2E, according to Tashina Lazcano, director of marketing and communications for Konami Gaming. “Coming out of last year, Konami saw a number of big wins, for both our casino customers and their players,” Lazcano says, “including the expansion of the All Aboard line, the extension of our Dimension 49J premium lease product with Ocean Spin and Lucky Envelope, and the industry’s No. 1 top-performing core portrait cabinet in Dimension 49.

“Coming into this year, Konami is really looking to deliver entertainment and technology that’s focused on that winning experience.”

Konami also will demonstrate its Synkros cashless and cardless technology, and the latest additions to its Synkros casino management system at the show, including the Synk31 money laundering/Title 31 product.

But the games are where the focus will be the strongest. New game families include America’s Rich Life, Cash Parade and BattleBots, along with strong new offerings like Great Guardians Link and Bull Blitz, as well as a brand extension of the Fortune Mint series.

“When you talk about exciting games, Bull Blitz is one that we’ve been waiting on,” says Bertsch. “It’s had tremendous success in Australia, and if we have even a snippet of that success, it will be incredibly beneficial to the company. We’re thrilled about that.”

He adds that the company will continue to emphasize the Fortune Mint series. “At the end of the day, the Fortune Mint game series has just been tremendous,” Bertsch says. “The two game families that are really carrying us into a great position as we get into G2E are the Triple Sparkle series and Fortune Mint. They’ve been the bread and butter for us for the last two quarters, and we just continue to get tremendous placements.”

To these hot game groups will be added several games on the Dimension 49 and Dimension 27 core cabinets that bring past Konami hits into the modern formats. China Shores, Mayan Chief, Mystical Temple and other hits originally on the Podium and K2V platforms are being reborn in the Dimension series.

75 Plus 49

The newest cabinet in the Dimension series, the Dimension 75C, with its massive 75-inch main monitor, was rolled out this year with its inaugural All Aboard and Ocean Spin game families. The company launched four 75C titles in the All Aboard series as an exclusive multi-game mix, which also were individually released on the Dimension 49J cabinet, the premium cabinet featuring the J-curved 49-inch portrait monitor.

Each version features the central All Aboard feature, which transforms all train symbols into credit awards for a hold-and-spin sequence—three free spins, and every time a train symbol lands, those credits lock in and the spin count returns to three. Each time an additional train symbol lands, it reveals a new credit award, and all of the credits on the board are awarded again.

Ocean Spin 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.

Both game families have done extremely well in the field, and the company has high hopes for a game just released on the Dimension 75C, Lucky Envelope—a linked progressive slot with a 243-ways-to-win base game and four jackpot levels that scale by denomination.

At G2E, Konami will launch a new series for the Dimension 75C that also will be available on the Dimension 49J: the Great Guardians Link, with base games Great Guardians Dragon and Great Guardians Phoenix.

The main feature on these games is a hold-and-spin bonus identical to the All Aboard feature, the only difference being the collection of yin-yang symbols instead of trains.

“Dragon and Phoenix have very similar math to the All Aboard games,” says Andrew Culverson, senior manager of games and product for Konami Gaming. “They added a standalone progressive to this game. On All Aboard, players were really chasing that All Aboard feature. Now with the addition of that stand-alone progressive, if you have a bank of four getting average coin-in, that top jackpot should hit every other day.”

The top prize resets at $7,500 or $10,000, and according to Culverson, chances of hitting the progressive go up as the wager increases.

“The game is really driving people to play, and not just to chase the Great Guardians feature, but also to chase that stand-alone progressive,” says Culverson. “There also is a unique free games feature that’s similar to Dynamite Dash and Piggy Pennies.”

Another highlight on both the Dimension 75C and 49J is America’s Rich Life, a patriotic five-reel video slot with a large bonus wheel, complete with a boost feature that raises the wedge amounts.

The two base games are Seaside Riches, “with a West Coast/California feel,” says Culverson, and Luxury Nights, with an East Coast/New York City vibe.

The free games feature has the player collecting Golden Gate Bridge symbols in Seaside Riches and Statue of Liberty symbols in Luxury Nights. Collecting six or more Wheel symbols triggers the bonus wheel.

Konami has added James Brown’s “Living in America” as background music for the bonuses. “There are cool features with that,” Culverson says, “where the eagle will moon-walk across the top of the wheel on the main screen.”

Also on the Dimension 75C and 49J is BattleBots, to be released in Q4 2022. Based on the popular robot combat sport and reality TV show broadcast in over 150 countries, the game features iconic environments, sounds, scenes, and bots from the show. The premium linked progressive series includes giant symbols, expanding reels, and a free-game feature that offers a chance to cheer fan-favorite bots in a bonus battle.

Finally, one Dimension 49J/75C game that shows much promise is Bull Blitz. Following proven success in the Australian market, the game was launched this summer in North America with themes Fortunes of the Orient and Roses & Riches. Backed by comprehensive multi-denomination options, the series offers players the chance at a big linked progressive Grand Jackpot, a progressive Mega Jackpot, and three static bonus awards.

Any six or more golden bull symbols trigger the Bull Blitz feature, a high-energy credit collection bonus. The three-by-five reel array transforms to 15 independently spinning reels with random credit prizes, golden bull symbols, and blank positions.

Konami has launched games on the 75C format at Resorts World and the Cosmopolitan on the Las Vegas Strip. “Results have been really strong, and continue to be strong,” says Jingoli. “We’re excited about the flexibility of the format, because all of the content on the Dimension 49J will be available on that 75C box.”

Top Box, 49 and 27

Konami’s new game rollout will extend beyond those two formats to include every one of the company’s form factors. That includes the new Dimension Top Box, a tall presentation that stacks a 49-inch flat-screen monitor on top of a 27-inch main game screen; the Dimension 49, the top-rated upright portrait monitor; and the Dimension 27, the core video cabinet featuring three 27-inch monitors.

The rollout of the Dimension Top Box cabinet is highlighted by Cash Parade, a game series designed to make the most of the cabinet display with a synchronized “parade” that travels across the top monitors in a bank of machines.

The main Cash Parade bonus is triggered by a combination of colored tickets and a magic star symbol on the fifth reel. “When that happens, you’ll see the characters going across the top monitors, and they will drop credit prizes to the customer,” says Culverson. “Depending on the ticket, you can even win a progressive.” A red ticket wins a chance at the Grand Jackpot, with resets ranging up to $10,000.

Also on the Dimension Top Box, which will launch early next year, are two legendary Konami brands in China Shores Pagoda and Mayan Chief Pyramid, based on games originally on the K2V platform.

The legacy games are recreated meticulously, with a special free-game bonus added in which free games that can accumulate into the hundreds of spins are played out on up to 24 different reel sets in the top box.

“We had all this real estate in the Top Box,” comments Ian Arrowsmith, senior director of game development at Konami. “We decided that instead of running through hundreds of spins we would use multiple reel sets, with the same great wins you would not normally get.” One of those is from a collection feature during the free spins that accumulates jackpot symbols for a possible progressive.

“Ian’s team did a great job doing a brand extension and an enhancement of these games,” says Culverson. “The player will collect the yin-yang symbols and the gold coin symbols to trigger the main feature. Based on the number of triggering symbols, the reel sets will accumulate on the top monitor.”

The other aspects of legacy games are carefully recreated. “I think we’ve done a pretty good job on some of these older games in that we didn’t change one thing,” says Jingoli. “The graphics are a little more robust, but the game play is identical.”

On the Dimension 49 portrait cabinet, Konami is launching Lucky Drums, with base games Lucky Drums Lion and Lucky Drums Dragon. Both games feature an operator-adjustable level for the Grand jackpot in the five-level progressive setup. “In the past, $10,000 would have been your only option for the Grand,” says Culverson. “This allows a customer who can support a $10,000 jackpot to have it, while allowing smaller casinos where that’s considered too high to adjust it down to a $2,500 reset.”

Players will enjoy the Lucky Drums feature—if you collect three drum symbols in the primary game, the reel array doubles to a six-by-five setup for a random number of games. Free spins also have this feature. “The fun part of this game is that you an actually play the drums in the jackpot feature,” Arrowsmith says.

Also on the Dimension 49 is Chili Chili Fire Hot Rush, another brand extension of a famously popular Konami title originally released on the Concerto dual-screen cabinet.

“The Chili Chili Fire symbols will trigger the free games, just like the first game, but then it adds the twist of collecting coin symbols and expanding reels,” says Culverson. “This is similar to Bull Blitz.”

As in that hit game, there is a special “repeat” symbol that pays a second time for accumulated cash symbols on an expanded reel array.

Finally, the Dimension 27 cabinet will host two more reprises of successful titles, Mystical Temple Grand and Prize Strike.

Mystical Temple Grand is an enhanced version of Mystical Temple, a hit on the original K2V platform. It features a three-level progressive jackpot with two static bonus jackpots, and a free-game bonus featuring long stacks of top-paying symbols.

Prize Strike is a clone of the hit Australian game series Golden Strike. It features a hold-and-spin bonus with multipliers and oversized symbols in a coin collection feature.

In addition to the new offerings in all of Konami’s established formats, the company is expanding into new markets with its entry into into the historical horse racing genre, VLTs and Class II.

“Historical horse racing games have been a huge success for us,” says Jingoli. “It’s been a great little piece of business that came to us during the pandemic. Having incremental revenue come in on that space has been really good.” He says HHR versions of All Aboard and other favorites, converted via the Ainsworth platform, first went to Churchill Downs properties in Kentucky, and then to Boyd Gaming properties in Louisiana.

“We’re new to that space, but everything that we’ve tried has worked really well,” Jingoli says. “We’ve been very successful with the games that we’ve launched in that space. We continue to look to expand that business footprint into other states.”

The company also is entering the New York video lottery market. “We did our first launch of our VLTs at Saratoga casino and we’re really happy about that,” says Jingoli. “Initial performance looks pretty strong.”

In Class II, the company will soon complete installation of its first group of games for the Miccosukee tribe in Florida.

“Company-wise, we’re in a pretty good spot right now,” Jingoli says. “We’re excited about G2E. We’re expecting a pretty big turnout this year, especially on the international side.”

“At the heart of it is really more fun Dimension content and more Synkros technology aimed at reinforcing, creating and facilitating those winning moments for players,” says Lazcano.

“We’ve logged more than 20 years of collaborative development efforts between our three owned studios in Las Vegas, Sydney and Tokyo. There is an established, great working relationship between those three studios, and they continue to produce some of the most popular games that we’ve seen.”

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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