Ask the Experts: Slots

Featuring Ainsworth and Incredible Technologies

From left: Cody Herrick, Senior Director of Game Design, Ainsworth Game Technology; Mike Trask, Vice President of Product Marketing & Global Communications, Ainsworth Game Technology; Dan Schrementi, President of Gaming, Incredible Technologies

Every issue we ask slot manufacturers what tools and strategies slot directors can benefit from that they might not be taking full advantage of. Check out our previous articles on: How to drive more revenue on the slot floor; Marketing solutions, progressive hit levels, and more. 

In this article we interviewed Cody Herrick (CH), Senior Director of Game Design and Mike Trask (MT), Vice President of Product Marketing & Global Communications, Ainsworth Game Technology, and Dan Schrementi (DS), President of Gaming, Incredible Technologies

What should be the most significant change or strategy that Tribal casinos should focus on for their gaming product in 2022? (Is it more about connecting social gaming and on-property machines? Is it addressing new layouts due to social distancing? Is it changing up the slot floor mix?)

CH/Ainsworth: We are seeing new layouts and changes due to social distancing have an impact on game performance. Casinos and manufacturers both need to communicate better about floor changes. We want to make sure to provide the best options to fit a casino floor. Manufacturers and casino properties similarly must communicate better about how online gaming – both real money and social – are being used in Tribal markets. Both issues will significantly drive our product strategy. 

DS/Incredible: Tribal operators have always been able to embrace innovation in gaming faster than large commercial operators can. Additionally, Tribal operators are the only operators who can run Class II games. 2022 should focus on the integrations of new, bold technologies to a Tribe’s operation – both with the games on the floor and online. Additionally, Tribes should look for opportunities to marry Class II opportunities into this strategy. Class II affords developers different ways to create gaming experiences that only Tribes can offer.

What are you as a gaming manufacturer offering in terms of marketing and operations support for your casino clients that were brought on by the pandemic, and are they here to stay?

MT/Ainsworth: The success of our Showroom Live events has been tremendous. We have done dozens of live demos of our products, such as those in partnership with Tribal Gaming & Hospitality, but also one-on-one with customers who wouldn’t typically visit our Las Vegas headquarters or a big tradeshow. These have given our partners the chance to speak directly with our game developers, product managers and executives in real time while they see the products. We have done this both in our office, and at G2E and NIGA. Even as live events come back, I don’t see that kind of communication going away.

DS/Incredible: We have always offered custom video advertising integrated with our slot machines as a value-add of doing business with us. Most of our games ship with video signage that sits between the machines to create unique shapes and allow our art team to work with properties to collaborate on advertising for their floor. The pandemic brought on a new purpose for these separators – creating wider spacing and adding in pandemic-related messaging. Wider casino floors and bank layouts will be here to stay, and we will continue to offer this service for our customers.

During the last year, what have been the biggest “aha moments” from the slot vendor side, and will these change the way that you do business and develop products in 2022?

DS/Incredible: The biggest “aha moment” from our point of view is the emphasis on product diversification in our industry. Being a well-rounded vendor who can service multiple segments is more critical than trying to dominate the charts in one segment. COVID-19 shutdowns, supply chain delays, remote work – these are just some of the challenging examples that forced slot manufacturers like Incredible Technologies to pivot. Strengthening our portfolio with “Land-Based versus Online,” “Class III versus Class II, HHR,” “Slots versus Table Games” are just some of the ways that we have grown to prepare for the year ahead. Look across the industry and you will likely find similar examples from all of us on the vendor side.

Social distancing protocols shifted the layout of our gaming floors for a time. How are you as a gaming manufacturer addressing this in your product and layout? What are your clients asking for today?

MT/Ainsworth: The most tangible example of this is the launch of our A-STAR Curve XL cabinet. Our initial launch focuses on three-game pods with attractive infills between the games. This sort of configuration naturally provides social distancing. Perhaps in the past, we would have had launches with some kind of side-by-side seating.

DS/Incredible: Our industry has always known that smaller bank configurations in circular or triangular shapes were the best producing in a casino’s retail environment. Many operators have been space or power-constrained, preventing investment of time and money to reconfigure this way. The pandemic offered up the time for many operators to do these upgrades, and the effect is still carrying through today. Just this week, I heard my first request from an operator working on a large expansion saying, “our expansion area will only feature circular pods.” With time, the days of the long “grocery aisles” of games will be gone.