For the gaming industry, the loss of G2E 2020 was an unprecedented development—and for many, a personal disappointment. According to Matt Ward, vice president of product development for Novomatic Americas, the 2020 show “would easily have been our best G2E ever, with a number of games that were successful earlier this year showing good legs as casinos reopened. A number of games coming out of the pipeline in the second half will be exciting, too.”
“We had our best quarter ever coming into April, and then Covid hit,” agrees Rick Meitzler, Novomatic Americas president and CEO. “Our mantra has remained, ‘Together, we can do it.’ By bringing together our team, and a comprehensive suite of products, systems and service, we are positioned as a customer-centric, value-add partner of choice for our customers in North America. We continue our steady and intentional growth and building on our success.”
The company’s agile organization and support from the parent company in Austria puts Novomatic Americas “in a favorable situation,” Meitzler adds, “and we recognize the hand-up that we can lend to our customers. We’ve worked with them to ensure the best outcome through Covid-19 because we are truly partners. When our customers win, we win.”
Novomatic Americas hasn’t slowed the pace, but increased its output of premium and core slots. New to the Class III slot catalog is Golden Seas. This swashbuckling, pirate-themed game is the fourth entry in the wildly popular Thunder Cash multi-level jackpot family, with two popular bonus events, including a “Coin Respin” lock-and-spin feature.
Novomatic’s Money Party linked progressive family is also expanding; its Fruity Fruity and Juicy Juicy models have found a place alongside Thunder Cash on casino floors in the U.S., and have done “quite well out of the gate,” says Ward. Both are available on the Panthera 1.43 Curve cabinet and the V.I.P Lounge Curve 1.43, and both base games are loaded with familiar fruit symbols. That success of that series warranted a third title, Yummy Yummy, now in the pipeline.
Novomatic has also released a family of stand-alone progressive titles in its Asian Aviary series. Eternal Mandarin Ducks, Royal Crane and Noble Peacock, which originated in the company’s Mount Prospect, Illinois design studio, offer richly detailed, jewel-toned graphics, and a lock-and-spin feature “with a bit of a twist,” including a coin-filled crimson envelope that can trigger bonuses, free spins and jackpots.
“We’re always looking for ways to celebrate wins,” according to Ward. “In the case of the red envelope, players know something special is coming, but don’t know how many coins will appear or if they’ll trigger the bonus.”
In late 2019, Novomatic introduced Dancing Tiger and Dancing Lantern to its Class III portfolio. The latest evolutions of its successful Asian Fortunes game, the games feature symbols with timeless appeal: glowing lanterns, ferocious tigers, and an ancient emperor “with a potful of money,” ready to be claimed by players. The games’ jackpot mechanics and entertaining trigger features are designed to keep players playing.
In addition, Novomatic’s Ji Deng Gao Zhao link will be introduced later this year with Lucky Trail, a Pick&Win progressive in which a lucky lantern lights the way to fortune. The Lucky Twist link with Lucky Twist Matrix-Dynamite Dragon and Lucky Twist Wheel-Money Ki Neko will keep players engaged while entering the bonus matrix or getting the winning wheels spinning.
Each Novomatic game is work-intensive, taking a minimum of nine to 12 months to develop, says Ward. Each goes through multiple prototypes and iterations on math simulators to achieve an optimal game play experience. “We reject a lot of ideas,” Ward says; only tried-and-tested games make it to market.
Acknowledging the extraordinary challenges now facing the industry, Novomatic’s established myACP casino management system, first launched in 2001, has been updated to ensure that slot players keep a safe distance as they gradually return to the casino floor.
The updated system includes a disinfection function, that alerts casino staff that the machine needs to be cleaned prior to reuse. The system’s Neighbor Machine Lock is self-explanatory: it enables staff to lock machines on either side of a machine in play; the next-door machines can easily be reactivated once the play session ends.
Globally, the myACP slot management system supports a network in excess of 30,000 machines and is fast becoming a fixture in U.S. route markets, particularly Illinois. A multi-functional check-in kiosk, in sizes suitable for any VGT location, performs essential player loyalty, points management and marketing functions. The kiosks come in several dimensions: with a 43-inch display, for larger VGT lounges; and two versions with 17-inch interfaces for smaller locations.
The Novostar V.I.P. 3.50 is popular with route operators across the state as an easily implemented tool for performance management, maintenance, and the new Novo Rewards player loyalty module.
“We’re looking to use this in other route markets,” including Pennsylvania, says Ward. “It’s an ideal system, low-cost and lightweight, but full-featured. It works very well for small venues. We do all the accounting, all the monitoring, all the maintenance tracking and TITO—any functionality like that.
“We bring a lot of strength to what we call the street market,” he observes. “That’s really the core strength of Novomatic worldwide. Our games have been very successful, we have the right types of cabinets for those locations, and we have a really strong multi-game mix that performs exceedingly well in those markets.”
Novomatic’s ActionBook self-service sports betting kiosk, now in more than 800 casinos and sportsbooks, can take a beating in a sports-n-suds atmosphere, and should be welcome in more venues as sports betting expands across the U.S.
“As a sports betting terminal option, we are fast, efficient, customer-centric and work with premium software providers to bring an operator’s retail vision to life—quickly,” says Kathleen McLaughlin, casino industry veteran and Novomatic Americas vice president of marketing. “We work in lockstep with our customers to come in on time and under budget. Novomatic ActionBook provides great value and a player-friendly, familiar betting experience.”
Though the industry at large likely will not gather until this time next year, and casinos may not return to full strength for many months, “We’re still looking forward to our best year on record, with the demand for the Novomatic ActionBook exceeding any expectations, the steady rollout of our new Money Party link to complement the successful Thunder Cash link, and our strong systems and game success in the Illinois VGT market,” says Meitzler. “Our immediate goal is to ensure customer care, service and support along with Matt’s continued pipeline of new and innovative games. It is a matter of building customer confidence, maintaining credibility and delivering on our commitments.”
With or without G2E, McLaughlin adds, “Our portfolio demonstrates our continued commitment to driving customer growth. We always focus on the player with content designed to engage, entertain and surprise our players, in a new way.”
Despite the speed bumps caused by the global health crisis, “we are prepared to showcase a range of games, innovative cabinets and systems that our customers can place on their floors with confidence, knowing that we support the performance and have a roadmap of development across our entire product and solutions portfolio.
“From VGT to Class III, we continue to make strides in a great direction.”