Slotmakers offer preview of future slots

October 23, 2001 9:02 AM
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Today’s slot machines, driven by computer technology, entertaining aesthetics and game-show interaction, have come a long way since they were mechanical, reel-spinning “one-armed bandits.”

And as technology evolves, there’s practically no limit as to what the slots of the future will entail.

Yet, in an effort to explore this Brave New World of slot machines, GamingToday surveyed the world’s top slot manufacturers for their vision of what the future will hold.

 “Creative and technological advances in slot machines will only be limited by creativity, and of course, gaming regulations,” said Ward Chilton, senior vice president of International Game Technology (IGT), the world’s largest manufacturer of gaming machines. “Twenty years from now we could be looking at machines with features like personal identity recognition, through a fingerprint, retina scan or even a voice recognition.

“Since the game would be able to recognize you,” Chilton continued, “it would also be able to remember your favorite game, and the last time you played in the casino.”

The machines will also take on a Starship Enterprise quality with space-age features and ergonomic designs, said Tony McAuslan, CEO of Next Generation Gaming.

 “You’ll probably be able to sit in a sort of ”˜Entertainment Pod’ that features full sense-around sound and images, and maybe even a body suit with thousands of sensor points,” McAuslan said. “The game will be a full-on assault of the senses, with the entertainment factor continuing to outstrip the gambling factor.”

McAuslan added that bonus features ”” currently the rage of slot machines ”” will become more complex, and “true 3-D and more realistic animations” will be part of the video package.

“Twenty years from now, you can expect the slot cabinet to be history,” McAuslan said. “What you’ll probably have are dumb terminals hooked up to a remote server.

“This type of ”˜intranet system’ will allow the big casino groups and gaming operators to serve up literally thousands of new games, which will be drawn from a large library located in a server either off-site or in a back room,” he said.

The current trend of licensed games (Wheel of Fortune, Survivor, Match Game, etc.) will continue for the next few years, but new concepts will eventually overtake the trend, said Dean Ehrlich, general manager of Anchor Gaming Company.

“You can expect to see concepts revolving around group or collaborative slot games, or even skilled concepts with players competing against one another for a payout,” Ehrlich said. “The demographics of the slot player of the future is people born in the 60s, 70s and 80s, and they’re more apt to want a collaborative and skilled gaming experience, rather than a traditional game of chance.”

Mikohn Gaming also believes that increased levels of skill will be part of futuristic slot machines.

“Expect to see more games with a skill element, particularly trivia-based games such as our Ripley’s Believe It or Not,” said Mike Caloiaro, general manager of the slot division of Mikohn Gaming. “Much of this element will be in the form of a second screen bonus or game-within-a-game package.

“These type of games add an additional level of entertainment for players akin to the extremely popular trivia based game shows,” he said.

Finally, for those slot players who revere the slot machine’s colorful past, there may actually evolve slots that “revert back to the traditional games of years ago,” said Mac Seelig, president of AC Coin and Slot Service.

“It’s entirely possible,” Seelig said. “Look at how nostalgia works with the fashion industry.”

There’s a possibility: A-line dresses, pillbox hats and platform shoes ”” the perfect attire for playing an old War Eagle or Exploding Cherry slot  machine!