As reported by GamingToday last week, most industry experts praised the major slot manufacturers – IGT, Bally and WMS Gaming – for their "innovative" and "compelling" games unveiled at last month’s G2E expo, adding, however, that none of them unveiled a "game changer" that would dramatically take the slot market by storm.
Hoping to make a dent in that market is a newcomer to the slot manufacturing industry, Incredible Technologies (IT), which used G2E to debut a line of video slots, poker and keno games under the "Magic Touch" brand.
Based in Arlington Heights, Illinois, Incredible Technologies is already the country’s largest manufacturer of coin-operated arcade games, including the wildly popular Golden Tee Golf game, so breaking into the Class III gaming market was a "natural evolution" for the company.
"The timing is right for us," said Elaine Hodgson, president and CEO of the company. "We have the talent and the technology to enter the new world order of gaming that’s developing today."
Hodgson said IT recently became licensed by Nevada to manufacture and distribute electronic slots, and that G2E was the ideal stage on which to introduce its Magic Touch line of games.
"We went to the show hoping to attract casino operators and slot buyers looking for something new and innovative, and we were very successful in that area," Hodgson said. "But when the creative types started showing up too, that’s when we knew we had something special.
"It’s very flattering to hear rave reviews of your games by the talented men and women who work for your competitors."
Among the new slot games introduced at the expo were Money, Cars, Fish Store and Fruit, each of which is available in three "volatility" versions – "often," "steady" and "big" – which controls the hit frequency of the game.
These versions, which are user selectable, will vary how the payback comes to the player: through a lot of smaller payoffs or the more volatile large, though less frequent, payoffs.
Perhaps of special interest to Nevada players are the Magic Touch video poker and video keno games presented at the expo. Many local players have recently complained that the current poker and keno offerings have grown stale and that a few new twists could renew interest in those tried-and-true favorites.
Hodgson said that IT’s video poker games were "designed to reenergize video poker" by taking existing concepts and crossing them with new and exciting features.
For instance, Magic Touch poker games include standard Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild and Joker Poker. But there are a variety of new variations, such as Easy Deuces, Full House Bonus Poker, Aces and Faces Poker and 4x Bonus Poker.
Moreover, all the poker games feature 3-D animations, eye-popping graphics, digitally enhanced sound effects, adjustable double-up bonus games and a "Pro Tip" feature that teaches poker strategy.
Similarly, Magic Touch’s video keno games feature several new variations, as well as advanced features to enhance the game (see Cluster Keno column on Slots page 1). "I think we’ve come out with the most beautiful rendition of keno of any manufacturer," Hodgson said.
Of course, the proof is always in the playing of these games, but they won’t be available in casinos until some time next year.
Hodgson said IT’s entire line is currently in testing labs and should be available in the second or third quarter of 2009.
"Things are progressing nicely and we’re optimistic that we’ll be selling games soon," she said. "In the next few months we’ll be following up with all the contacts we made at the show. 2009 will certainly be an exciting year for us."
She added that there has already been an informal trial of IT machines on a small cruise ship, which was in international waters, thus avoiding jurisdictional regulations.
"For that small sampling, I thought everything went fine," she said.
As noted, Incredible Technologies already had the artists, crafts people, technology and so forth to make the jump into Class III gaming from arcade games.
Hodgson said the process took only about three years, which required "learning a lot … creating innovative math models … and following all the rules," she said.
Surprisingly, she didn’t need to recruit much from the commercial casino industry.
"We actually brought in only one person from the casino industry," she said. "We were fortunate in that we could use a lot of the same talent, which is expert at hardware, software, graphics, and so forth."
For a peek at the product line, check out the company’s website, itcasinogames.com.