Novomatic / Austrian Gaming Industries: Global Force
Novomatic continues to expand its presence and perfect its product
The name “Austrian Gaming Industries” could mislead some into thinking that the Austrian subsidiary of the Novomatic Group of Companies only serves the Austrian casino market.
The fact is, there are few markets in the world AGI does not serve. The Novomatic corporate logo is one of the most well-known in the world to players of slot machines and electronic table games, and AGI, the company’s manufacturing subsidiary, has spent the past decade expanding the company’s games throughout Eastern and Western Europe, Asia, South America and other parts of the world.
Austrian Gaming Industries GmbH was established as a wholly owned subsidiary of Novomatic AG through a consolidation of the research and development departments, the various production divisions, the international distribution arms and marketing department of the former Novomatic Industries GmbH.
The strength of the company’s products lies in the fact that Novomatic is an operator as well as a manufacturer. In fact, the company has most recently been striving to achieve a balance between its casino operations—the company operates some 85,000 gaming machines in more than 750 locations, including some of the most profitable Swiss, German and Czech casinos and 170 sports betting outlets in Austria—and its manufacturing operations, which grow every year.
The AGI subsidiary is the undisputed leader in multi-player electronic table games in Europe, and the company continues to spread its name in the area of single-player slots as well. Last year, the company sold 75,000 gaming devices in 62 countries.
According to Max Lindenberg, who heads marketing and business development for AGI, the fact of being both operator and supplier is what lies at the heart of the success of the company’s slots and multi-player electonic table games.
“Being both an operator and a manufacturer means that information from our operations can go into our research and development,” Lindenberg says. “Our operations are testing labs for our products. Only games that are successful in our operations make it into our product line.”
That product line is constantly growing, with some 80,000 units rolling off its production lines every year and new innovations constantly swelling the game library.
One thing that means for AGI executives like Lindenberg and Managing Director Jens Halle is a constant stream of trade shows. The company has displayed new games at all of the South American trade shows, as well as the European and Asian shows. This month, it will be the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas.
Most of the groundbreaking innovations, though, are launched in January at the International Gaming Exhibition in London, the main European trade show—and an event in which Novomatic dominates the floor every year.
At G2E, the company normally reveals few of the innovations it will reveal at the London show. However, this month’s display in Las Vegas serves as a showcase of what 2008 has brought to AGI’s customers.
For AGI, that means the famous Gaminator brand of multi-game unit, the Novo-Vision brand of stand-alone slots, and the Coolfire II video platform that provides a steady stream of additions to the company’s massive game library.
AGI launches a new innovation for its slot products every year. Two years ago, it was a foot pedal that substitutes for a “spin” button. One of the most successful innovations, according to Lindenberg, has been the one introduced at the 2008 London show on the Novo-Vision slant-top: the ability to hit a button to switch displays between the main LCD screen and the top-box monitor. Lindenberg says customer feedback has been universally positive on that feature; customers love the ability to switch the main game screen to the top monitor.
This year, the big innovation for Novomatic has been a hardware improvement: the “Super-V+” version of the Gaminator multi-game unit includes a recessed, third LCD video monitor between the two main screens. This serves as a portal for operator-to-player communications, special promotions and even streaming video.
At Global Gaming Expo, AGI will showcase the top games in the Coolfire II video platform in all of the new hardware formats. Top games recently have included “Book of Ra,” a 10-line video slot featuring 3D images of Egyptian temples, along with primary-game wild symbols, an expanding wild symbol and a free-spin bonus round.
Another strong game has been “Plenty of Twenty,” a straightforward 20-line slot with great animation on the reels. “Rich Witch,” another popular Coolfire II game, has an innovative feature in the free-spin round: if the player lands symbols representing three “ingredients” for the witch’s “potion,” it adds another 13 free games.
Two of the most successful games this year, according to Lindenberg, have been “Indian Spirit,” a Native American-themed game with wild symbols and a free-spin bonus; and “Shogun,” with expanding wild symbols along with free spins.
At G2E, in addition to showing the full range of video slots, Novomatic will showcase the Flexi-Link Jackpot System, a multiple mystery progressive link that randomly feeds one of four jackpots to a machine in a linked bank according to a trigger in the progressive level.
One unique aspect of this link is that the overhead display lets players know when the jackpot is coming—when the lower triggering threshold is reached, a message tells players the jackpot “must be won before” a certain level. It is a virtual guarantee of creating “jackpot fever” in a progressive.
In addition to the slot products, of course, G2E attendees can expect Novomatic’s booth to feature a full range of the company’s electronic multi-player games in the Novo Unity platform, including a new electronic multi-player Texas hold’em poker table that has been grabbing a lot of attention worldwide.
Novomatic is continuing efforts to extend its brand across the globe, with localized R&D in Austria, the U.K., Germany and Poland. Expansion in South America is continuing, and the company is constantly looking at new markets.
By next spring, the company will complete a new headquarters facility in Gumpoldskirchen, Austria—a new office tower and a new headquarters for R&D—and will add 150 new employees for a total of 900 at the AGI headquarters.
“Through vertical and horizontal integration, we have become one of the biggest operators worldwide,” says Lindenberg. “Our aim is to become the biggest gaming company in the world.”