Scientific Games Corporation is the very definition of an end-to-end supplier, its three main legacy companies having combined into a one-stop shop for slot machines, specialty table games, table utility products, casino management systems, sports betting technology and a complete suite of interactive services.
It’s only natural, then, that the company would devise a system by which all those games and services could be delivered seamlessly across all land-based and digital channels. That’s exactly what one of the company’s headline products for Global Gaming Expo does.
Scientific Games’ G2E exhibit will be presented under the new brand campaign “Reimagine Play.” The slogan certainly fits the company’s lineup of new slot games and cabinets, which provide new looks for stepper slots, video slot games and even bartop video poker.
But one of SG’s trade-show highlights this year is something that ties all those games together and makes them more accessible than ever. It’s called the SG Game Service.
“Reimagine Play is really about player focus,” says Cathryn Lai, senior vice president of products and marketing for Scientific Games, “and not just on the slot side, but also how we can create a unified player experience across all the different channels we offer products on.”
Lai calls SG Game Service “one of the big unifying stories” for this year’s G2E show. Previewed last year in the “Casino of the Future” section of the SG booth, it is a server-based ecosystem that gives players a unified playing experience across slots, table games and sports betting.
“SG Game Service incorporates a lot of elements that tie all of the business units and products we have together,” Lai says. “It starts with an on-premise, server-based product, where the games and services reside on the game server.”
The local server feeds content to bartop terminals and tablets. It includes a multitude of games from the SG library, and supports the cashless initiative, SG Unified Wallet, being offered by the company’s systems division. It also incorporates SG Vision, Scientific Games’ facial recognition technology.
“Our goal is to create a gaming ecosystem that enables a multi-faceted playing experience,” Lai says. “Not only do you have slot, poker and keno content, the SG Game Service will also be ready for sports betting applications as well as integration with electronic table games.”
In the SG Game Service, gaming devices link to the server as a client. Unlike the first attempts at server-based gaming a decade ago, it accomplishes all transactions and game play on the server in real time. “When you look at server-based gaming 10 years ago, it was completely different,” says Lai. “The infrastructure and technology wasn’t as evolved as it is today. Initial server-based gaming allowed for download of content or configurations from a server to the EGM. In our SG Game Service, the content and game play reside on the server. Because of that, the value to the operator and player is actually much more seamless.”
Lai says the system is scalable to as many games as the operator likes, up to floor-wide. However, Scientific Games has been working with regulators and Gaming Laboratories International to see if one server can serve multiple locations in the case of multi-property operators.
But what about all that new innovative hardware and merchandising packages the company puts out with its slot games?
They’ll stay, says Lai, who notes this is nothing more than an extra tool for the operator’s toolbox. “This augments our portfolio,” she says. “It’s not meant to replace anything we’re doing. The way to look at it is, there are two segments of products. You have premium-type games for which people want to come to the casino—a ‘can’t-get-at-home’ experience. For that, you’re going to need the bandwidth and the horsepower of high-powered CPUs and video cards to drive the big displays and attract elements for those type of experiences. SG will continue down this path.
“But SG Game Service gives operators an opportunity to expand their floor. We’re talking about gaming tablets that are still regulated and on premise, so potentially they can open it up to lounges, to bars, to even the pool.”
The fact that bartop units will be one of the first devices to use the SG Game Service means Scientific Games has created a complete suite of video poker and keno, which will be accessible in bars along with video slots from the company’s vast library.
Meanwhile, Scientific Games will bring its normal mind-boggling collection of games and systems for the traditional land-based side of the business in addition to the new bartop, tablet and server-based capabilities.
New form factors, now almost a requirement due to rapidly advancing technology, will once again be part of the show. At spring’s Indian Gaming Tradeshow, the company launched the TwinStar Wave XL cabinet. Billed as the successor to the pioneering Pro Wave cabinet—the industry’s first curved-monitor form factor—the Wave XL features a 49-inch 4K Ultra High Definition display, a large iDeck panel and an advanced lighting and sound package.
Additionally, while the Pro Wave only supported Bally content, the Wave XL supports content from all three SG legacy companies—Bally, WMS and Shuffle Master.
“What you’ll see at G2E is that we’ve augmented the library with a lot more content to support the launch,” Lai says. One of the highlighted games for the Wave XL will be the Drop & Lock series, which features a hold-and-spin mechanic combined with a cascading reels feature. In the bonus free games, matching icons return credit awards and then drop off the screen, with new symbols dropping down to replace them.
Also on the Wave XL is a new family of products called Super Colossal Reels, launching with two new themes—Lil’Red and Spartacus. These feature a new take on the highly successful Colossal Reels mechanic, with a multiplier on the last reel and a new four-level progressive.
Lai says these games will be joined on the new cabinet with an expanded portfolio including proven, blockbuster titles such as Dragon Spin-Age of Fire and Cash Wizard World. All games will be presented with enhanced top boxes and digital signage in various arrangements.
Another new cabinet will be launched on the stepper side. The TwinStar 5-Reel Mechanical (5RM) will launch with a mechanical-reel version of the video hit Dancing Drums, the multiple-progressive ways-to-win game that is typically near the top of industry performance surveys.
According to Lai, the company also is launching several classic stepper hits that have previously done well in the five-reel space, including Lock It Link and the Quick Hit series.
In the premium space, Scientific Games’ G2E display will combine proven internal brands with licensed titles that augment current proven franchises such as James Bond and Monopoly.
Heading the additions to internal franchises is Ultra Hot Mega Link, the next generation of Ultimate Fire Link. The games in this series are multiple progressives featuring free-spin bonuses and the Fire Link Feature, a lock-and-spin feature that has players accumulating fireballs on the reels for a cumulative award. “Ultimate Fire Link has been a very strong franchise for us,” says Lai. “We released the original on the Wave; this new one is going to be available on the TwinStar J43 and Wave XL.”
SG also is refreshing other strong internal brands, including Ultimate Cash Spin, which reimagines the company’s popular U-Spin bonus by allowing the player to physically turn the wheel on the new TwinStar J43 Motion Wheel cabinet.
SG will continue to drive some of its top licenses on the Gamefield 2.0 cabinet, which incorporates a J-curved monitor connected to large-format curved landscape monitor to create an expanded “game field.” Munchkinland, the latest in the long-running series of games based on The Wizard of Oz, is one of the games launched on the format this year that is an unqualified mega-hit, one of SG’s top-performing games.
At this year’s G2E, the Gamefield 2.0 will host new games in The Lord of the Rings and Willy Wonka game groups—The Hobbit in the former and Willy Wonka-Everlasting Gobstopper in the latter.
Yet another new cabinet is the Wave XL Horizon, another form factor utilizing a 49-inch portrait curved display with 4K UHD graphics, integrating a massive 65-inch overhead monitor for a more breathtaking gaming experience.
Scientific Games will launch it with James Bond: Die Another Day and a new Monopoly Money Grab game.
“Games on the Wave XL Horizon are going to be the ‘wow’ factor for the show,” says Lai.
Another new form factor launching at the show will be the Twinstar Ballistic cabinet, taking a new gaming spin on an amusement-style product. Launching with the popular Gold Fish Frenzy character, players watch as the cabinet releases balls from the top that physically drop through a pachinko-style peg board with the goal of landing the balls into fish bowls. “The Ballistic shows SG’s drive for innovation while reimagining game play with a skill-based element,” Lai says.
Other new game refreshes are on tap for previously released form factors. On the giant TwinStar V75 cabinet will be a new Wizard of Oz theme, Emerald City. Also on that cabinet will be a new version of Bier Haus, Oktoberfest, with entertaining effects surrounding giant beer mugs and the main Bavarian barmaid character.
And on the TwinStar 3RM stepper cabinet will be two new Monopoly games, plus a new version of Monte Carlo, the legendary Bally game that actually incorporated the industry’s first wheel bonus back in the 1970s.
The wheel on top is designed like the original wheel, which used a rotating ball on a stick as the indicator. “We’re making it retro, but modern as well,” Lai says. “We’re going to use the brighter reels we have on all TwinStar 3RM games, but with the original Monte Carlo wheel. People are really excited about that one.”
In fact, people are going to be excited about all of SG’s products—not only slots, but ETGs, table utility products, table games, systems developments, and sports betting. There will be a sportsbook set up in SG’s massive booth, which will once again be walled off from other exhibits for more private product demonstrations.
In other words, SG is ready—across all channels.