Ask the Expert Series: Slots

Best Advice on Progressive Hit Levels and Banking Strategies

The relationship between slot supplier and Tribal casino can be complicated and it’s certainly interdependent. Through this affiliation and teamwork, critical information is shared, ultimately providing products that deliver an entertainment experience to our guests that keeps them coming back. In this series of articles, we’ve asked slot suppliers what tools and advice slot directors can benefit from that perhaps they’re not utilizing currently. We’ll be covering topics from marketing programs and floor evaluations to game volatility.

In this article, we’ve asked the team to share their best advice on progressive hit levels and banking strategies.

Steve Walther HeadshotSteve Walther, Senior Director, Marketing & Product Management, Konami Gaming, Inc.

Progressive hit levels: In recent years, player preference has moved toward a desire for both achievable and aspirational progressive jackpots, together on a machine. People appear to have a little more money in their wallet today than they did a few years ago, causing bigger jackpots to come into favor, but at the same time, bigger jackpots inherently look further away. So, when setting up your progressive levels, it’s nice to mix a big jackpot – that players can aspire to achieve – together with smaller jackpot levels that give players a more frequent opportunity to boost their credit meters. Konami’s Treasure Ball linked progressive has this balance. It has a $10,000+ jackpot that’s aspirational, but it also has four other smaller jackpots that are achievable, and players can see popping up across the bank. This mix is valuable and entertaining for players because the lower level jackpots give them a chance to extend their time on device, while aspiring to hit that $10,000+ linked progressive top award.

Banking strategy: When banking games, it is important to bring together like-styled with a similar cost to cover, max bet, and play structure, in order to support game performance and player satisfaction. When players walk up to a bank, they like to be able to identify and understand what type of entertainment they’re going to be playing. If the games in a bank are dissimilar – with different bet structures or max bet amounts – it can cause player confusion and erode performance. For example, they don’t want to be playing a game at 200 credits and then slide one game over to a machine at 600 credits. Players enjoy accessing similar entertainment styles within a bank or zone, without having to search across the floor.

Cathryn Lai, SVP Product Management and Marketing for the Gaming Division of Scientific Games

Progressive hit levels: We have noticed a growing trend of players gravitating toward linked progressive jackpots with smaller top awards in the $10K-$20K range, as players are chasing after more frequent jackpot hits. Often these types of games use homegrown brands like our 88 Fortunes family, as opposed to bigger licensed brands. To capitalize on this growing trend, we’ve recently launched a new, fast-hitting, wide area progressive jackpot link called Quick Bucks, with the initial family of games called Super Lock, based on our popular Lock It Link games. The idea is that as new games are added to this link, the jackpot could hit as often as every two to three days with an average jackpot of around $25K. Players tend to anticipate these jackpot hits, so they increase their play and go for the chase. However, there still exists a strong segment of players who are looking for “life-changing” jackpots. While players realize the odds are low, the opportunity to win these large jackpots is very exciting.

Banking strategy: We have found that players tend to move from game to game on the same bank expecting a similar experience, so it is very important to bank similar types of games together. We provide our customers with specific banking advice, depending on the features of games that are being placed. Game mechanics, frequency of features, etc., determine how games should be placed within a bank. For instance, our research has shown that putting linked games together “side by side” in a bank helps create excitement and drives play. Players see other people on the same bank hitting jackpots and this helps create more anticipation and excitement. However, games with known mechanics that are developed specifically for “core gamblers” might be placed in a configuration that enables more privacy, such as a carousel where there is significant space between games.

Marcus Yoder, Vice President, Regulated Markets Business Development, Gamblit Gaming, LLC

Progressive hit levels: We have just launched our first skill-progressive in “Lucky Words with Progressives,” so we are pretty new at this. We made it so that the progressive jackpots are 100% player funded. We’ll see how that runs over the next months, and then determine if we think we should make it so that operators can seed the progressives. The progressives only hit if a player can make a defined number of 5, 6, 7, or 8, letter words. It’s pretty hard, but over and over we see patrons hitting these jackpots, even the ones for eight-letter words. Personally, I have yet to be able to hit one of those on our demo machines. So, my advice here would be to advertise to the player base for players to come test their “word-slayer” skills that they have honed over the years playing Scrabble and Words with Friends.

Banking strategy: We see the best utilization when we have two TriStations and one PacMan ModelG together on the floor. Each position on the TriStations would be dedicated to a single game, and the PacMan ModelG is the main marquee. We see greater utilization when operators have banks like this setup on opposite ends of the casino to get maximum exposure to players.

Christine Faria
Christine Faria 8 Articles