For companies like Konami, the Global Gaming Expo is like the Super Bowl.
The Japanese gaming manufacturer gets to show off its newest creations and make deals to get their machines in casinos.
“It’s a big event, not just for us, but for the entire industry,” said Thomas Jingoli, Konami executive vice president and chief commercial officer. “G2E is a big launch for us. All the buyers are in town. The key players are there.
Jingoli hopes those buyers will be wowed by what they see when they come by the booth, which is quite extensive, at the Sands Convention Center.
“We think it’s going to be a big year for Konami,” he said. “We made some changes in our R&D (Research and Development) department and our Games Division. We’ve got some games that are really unique, really nice.
“I’ve been with the company for 17 years and this is probably the most excited I’ve ever been going into a G2E.”
Konami will be launching a new cabinet, new platform and new technology. There’s high resolution, 4K graphics and a return to premium products.
“It’s going to be a totally new look and feel for us,” Jingoli said.
But while Konami shows off some of its new games, one of its older ones remains popular. “Fortune Cup,” a game based on horse racing, has gotten a facelift and Jingoli said the new graphics and adjustments should maintain the game’s popularity among players.
“Fortune Cup may be about horse racing but it’s not geared toward your horse racing player,” he said. ‘We’ve taken the game from eight horses down to six horses to speed up the play. We’ve increased the capacity from 1,000 decisions to about 1,500. We simplified it and because it’s not geared to the regular horseplayer, it’s more of an entertainment device that does well on the (Las Vegas) Strip.
“We put it in a high-traffic area and it grabs people’s attention. They sit down and play the game.”
Konami recently entered into a partnership with Engaged Nation, Gaming Today’s sister company. Jingoli said both sides figure to benefit.
“Obviously I’ve known (EN/GT owner) Bill Paulos for a long time. He’s a casino industry legend,” Jingoli said. “Engaged Nation helps gamify products. It helps get games like Fortune Cup in people’s hands before they get to the casino so it gives us an opportunity to show the player, the consumer, the operator, all the new things about the product. This way, they have some institutional knowledge before they get to the casino and see how the product works.
“So we’re looking forward to the partnership with Engaged. It’s something we as a company will benefit from. Anytime you launch a new product, you have to educate the public and the operator on all the new features. That’s hard to do on the floor. But anything we can do before that and get it in their hands before is beneficial to the player and the operator.”
Jingoli said technology in the industry is always changing and trying to stay ahead of the curve is a challenge.
“We have sophisticated computers now with high-resolution graphics,” Jingoli said. “Its no longer your mom-and—pop’s slot machine with the three mechanical reels. The proliferation in gaming, particularly on the Strip, is with the video gaming slot machine. Depending where you are, it’s probably 80 percent video, 20 percent mechanical when it comes to slot machines. On the Strip, it’s more like 90-10, video to mechanical.”
Jingoli said Konami will be unveiling a new video slot game, “Silent Hill,” which is a derivative of its video game. Two motion pictures were made with that product.
“Using our own IP makes it more cost effective for us,” Jingoli said. “But we’re excited about the Silent Hill brand.”
Will there be sports teams having their own branded slot machines, much the way television shows and movies do?
“That’s a fair question,” Jingoli said. “I think in time we probably could see team-branded slot machines. Maybe a Vegas Golden Knights slot machine or a Raiders slot machine. It remains to be seen but I certainly wouldn’t say no.”