Table games will be a big draw at G2E

Table games will be a big draw at G2E

September 26, 2018 3:00 AM
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There are just two more weeks to go until the 2018 Global Gaming Expo. This is the major gaming convention and a highlight of the year. I love wandering around the show looking for new table games as this is when many of the gaming companies introduce their new games. It is sort of an Easter Egg Hunt for me as the overwhelming percentage of the floor is dedicated to slot machines.

I know I’ll find table games at the Scientific Games, AGS and Galaxy Gaming booths. After that, it gets a bit trickier. Most of the independent (aka smaller) inventors cannot afford booths at the show. A suggestion for the G2E organizers would be to perhaps create a common area at lower cost where some smaller inventors can show their wares. Perhaps, they feel this is already done at Raving’s Table Game Show in November.

For the next few weeks, I’ll be covering new table games, both conceptually and the actual ones that will be on display or that I see on display while I’m there. For this week, I’m on the conceptual model. That is to say, I’ll be talking about what I think inventors should do and not do when inventing a game and while at the show.

If you look at the entire world of table games, you’ll see that virtually all of them fall into one of two categories. They are either Poker based or a version of Blackjack. I frequently talk to inventors who lament this ‘limitation’ and feel that other games should be considered. They have been considered and they have all been dismissed. Does this mean that no game will ever break this mold? No. It just means that if you want to increase your chances of success, you’re better off staying in these two categories.

Here is the reality of the situation. The chance of success of any game is about 1%. In general, about 1 in 100 games that are seriously conceived of and developed has any level of commercial success. It might even be less than this. The odds of creating a game that is neither Poker nor Blackjack is even lower. At the same time, if you are the person to break through, the game is likely to be a massive hit and make you very wealthy. But, if the odds of this are 100,000 to 1, you have to decide what you want to target and how badly you need that success.

In similar vein, I’ve often stated that if you are going to invent a table game, you should stick with common items – a standard 52-card deck (or perhaps 53-card including a Joker) or a standard 6-sided die, etc… You’re running into some of the same issues here as you would with a game that is not Poker nor Blackjack. Your odds of success are just reduced greatly. Interestingly enough, I met with an inventor several months ago who did ‘invent’ a new deck of cards consisting of only Aces through Fours. 

They have a game going live in Primm any day now. I told them exactly what I wrote here, but I also made it very clear that I absolutely hope they are successful. The day casinos and Players accept games with non-standard decks of cards is a day a whole new arena of games can be born. This will benefit everyone. I’m just not sure if that day will happen anytime soon.

Inventing a table game is an interesting proposition. In the end, it is the Players who decide what game is good or bad. But, you never get to that point if you don’t convince the Casino which game to put on the floor. And let’s be honest here – the Casino and the Player definitely do not see eye to eye on what is good and what is bad on any level. Players want games with small house edges.

Casinos prefer it to be bigger. Players may like games where they get some personal space to play in. Casinos want to maximize their profits per square foot. I’ve seen some table games which play on a table more akin to a Craps table, but not allow for as many Players as a Craps table. So, what incentive does the casino have to take up twice the amount of space as a regular table game and make half that amount of the money?

Over the years, I’ve also had people pitch ideas to me that are blackjack sidebets that only occur in maybe 40% of the hands. Why is a Casino going to want a sidebet that is in play only 40% of the time when there are already dozens that happen on every hand? Inherently, this means 40% of the profits for the casino. 

Yes, the argument is that the Players will like this ‘new’ game better and participate more. This might make up for the gap somewhat – if it were even true. But, good luck convincing the Casino of this and until you do, you’ll never get to prove the premise that the Player will like your game more and play more often!

To create a casino game requires both creativity and pragmatism (aka business sense). It is ironic, that these two traits don’t often co-exist in the same inventor. If you want to invent a game, you have to look at it from both perspectives – the Casino and the Players.