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The Magic Touch: Incredible Technologies

A longtime amusement-machine supplier makes its mark in the gaming industry

The Magic Touch: Incredible Technologies

If you’ve ever played golf games in a bar, you’re already familiar with up-and-coming slot-maker Incredible Technologies. Based in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights, Illinois, Incredible Technologies is the manufacturer of Golden Tee Golf, a game played in bars around the world as well as online and in a variety of tournaments.

Founded in 1985 by Elaine Hodgson and Richard Ditton, Incredible made its name in the amusement sector. The company first made pinball games for Data East and Stern, before hitting it big with Golden Tee Golf, a game that gives players a virtual trip around the links. “Golden Tee Golf put us on the map,” says Hodgson, who is the company’s president and CEO. “We’ve made updates to it every year for the past 26 years.” That success was followed by upwards of 50 amusement arcade games, including major hits like Capcom Bowling and HotShots Tennis.

Six years ago, Hodgson says, the company decided to diversify into the gaming industry.

“We had watched other companies like Bally, WMS and Konami go from coin-op to gaming, taking that skill set with them. We started from scratch, with new software and hardware platforms. Now, we have games out there doing really well, and we’re bringing more games out.”

The company has spent the past several years collecting licenses as its engineers worked on perfecting slot games. The company is now licensed in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida and, most recently, Mississippi and Louisiana. Nevada is next on the agenda.

The company’s biggest success in casinos has been the “Magic Touch” series of slot games, with 12 titles in the field and 13 new titles to be launched at G2E. The company also produces 31 video poker titles and 10 video keno games.

Dan Schrementi, the company’s director of gaming marketing and new media, says one of the reasons Incredible’s games have been successful is a continuous stream of special play features—such as “Sidewinder” games, in which reels spin from left to right; and a feature letting players select how volatile they want their games to be. “We were first to market with player-selectable volatility,” says Schrementi, who notes that the pioneering feature won an honorable mention two years ago in the Global Gaming Business Gaming & Technology Awards.

New Play Features

While all Incredible games are defined in the overall categories of either the “Innovation Collection” or the “Traditional Collection,” at G2E, the company is launching several new game sub-categories, each defined by a special new game mechanic. For instance, in the “Random Awards” category, games feature random bonus events that happen every 20 spins, on average.

In the “Multi-X Symbols” category, games like “Family Vacation” and “Rollin’ on Route 66” include a free-spin feature in which dice symbols land to multiply the win by the combined value of the dice—three sixes on the reels, for instance, would multiply a win by 216 (6 x 6 x 6).

Another new game category, called “Mini Games,” features several games within games. One game, the Vegas-themed “Neon City Casino,” features three different table games—blackjack, roulette and seven-card stud—in a bonus round. The Family Vacation game includes a mini-dice game called “On A Roll.”

In addition to these three games, Schrementi says one of the hottest new games for G2E is “King of Bling,” a Random Awards game that includes the “Let’s Get Wild” random wild symbols, a random instant jackpot feature called “Make It Rain,” and the “Spinsanity” free-spin bonus. The main bonus has the player, as the DJ, “scratching the vinyl” on records to reveal a jackpot of up to 3,000 credits.

The company also will introduce a new slant-top cabinet at the show, called the “Breeze Slant-75 HD.”

“Our cabinet gets high marks,” says Schrementi, “because the design is based on games we’ve produced for coin-op, which have to hold up in a bar environment. It’s very strong, very robust hardware.”

Spreading the Word

Hodgson says this year’s trade show is an important stop on the company’s journey to make its products known in new markets. Right now, the company is focused on licensing in the Midwest and South, and is moving on in a deliberate fashion.

“We don’t want to expand beyond our ability to give good customer service,” Hodgson says. “We want to make sure we’re established the Midwest and South before moving on to the West, and eventually, the East Coast. We’re also making some games for Macau, which is too big a market for us to ignore.”

One large Midwestern market, of course, is right in the company’s back yard—the new Illinois video lottery market. “In Illinois, we will concentrate on our poker games and our slots, which is what this market is looking for,” Hodgson says.

As far as the big picture, Hodgson says, “I would like to see at least one bank of our machines in every casinos—that’s been our mantra. Maybe five or 10 years from now, we hope to be a major player.”

The company’s off and running toward that goal.

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.