At last week’s National Indian Gaming Association trade show in San Diego, industry-giant IGT unveiled a variety of new games and operating systems.
IGT officials acknowledged the face of electronic gaming is changing, and that the company is committed to "change for the better."
"We’re listening to our customers and understand their needs: More innovation that caters to today’s players," said Ron Rivera, senior vice president of North American Sales. "The products showing at NIGA are just a slice of what the new IGT is truly capable of. And it’s indicative of what’s to come.
Among IGT’s new headliner products is its Center Stage series of slots. Reproducing the excitement of a movie theater, the new game platform features extra large screens, surround sound and theater-like seating.
Two Center Stage versions are available: a 103-inch screen with five player stations and a 70-inch screen with four player stations. Much like a movie theater, casinos will install the platform (screens, seats and all) just once, and change out game themes as they become available.
The first game for the casino theater is Wheel of Fortune Experience, which will be followed up by American Idol.
The American Idol game will feature Randy, Simon, Kara and Ryan, along with players’ favorite (and not so favorite) contestants from the most-watched TV show today.
American Idol slots take multi-play to the next level with a "five play" set-up, with all video screens spinning simultaneously, but each with a different result.
And the bonus rounds, in which players get "to be the judge," are chock-full of auditions from the show – Kelly, Carrie and the good and the bad … they’re all here for players’ entertainment and reel-spinning excitement.
Also unveiled at the NIGA show was Wheel of Fortune multi-play. This traditional and highly-popular game will now allow players to play up to four Wheel of Fortune base games in one dizzying package, which includes a super-high bonus frequency.
New game themes that are expected to take casinos by storm are dapper Bill Cash from IGT’s new version of Top Dollar slots, and man-eating plants from the Little Shop of Horrors.
Top Dollars is a multi-play game, whose dazzling show host Bill Cash guides players through reels of excitement. Top Dollar uses 3-D excitement to elevate the level of fun for this classic, arcade-style game. The game features the traditional "Take Offer, Try Again" proposition, and not one but two reel games that spin simultaneously and stop with individual outcomes.
The Little Shop of Horrors slots are highlighted by man-eating Mini Venus Flytrap plants, which appear to grow on their 3-D screens, with loud-crunching sounds intensifying their presence. The off-beat excitement of the movie is captured in this video slot, which features a Free Games bonus in which extra symbols turn wild. The plant continues to grow larger each time it feeds on more wild symbols, and when it gets to be full size, the player scores more free games.
Poker fans will have their interest piqued with IGT’s new Texas Hold’em Heads Up Poker game, which is the first to use neural net technology: a mathematical model that simulates the operation of the human brain. Instead of a pay table, players are matched against a computer program developed to be a dynamic decision-making engine. Decisions are made based on the current game state, but unlike a live opponent, it does not "learn" a player’s strategy. It should make for hours of intriguing poker –playing excitement.
In addition to a range of new game products, IGT unveiled its DynamiX system of bundled games. Similar to a server-based system (such as IGT’s sbX), DynamiX shares controls of a machine between the operators and player.
For instance, DynamiX allows the casino to run different math and graphics in an operator-configurable multi-game configuration, while players can pick the games they want to play through the touch-tone screens.
"From an operator’s standpoint, the games look classy, yes. But over time, the IGT DynamiX box will save us money," said Todd Dimillo of San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino. "Being able to convert a game in only 10 seconds of down time, now that speaks volumes."