G2E was not only a celebrity-filled week, but a chance for Las Vegas slot makers to show their innovations for attracting the next wave of players in front of more than 25,000 attendees.
There was Larry David, the co-creator of Seinfeld who attended to introduce a game based on the show for Scientific Games. There was country singer Tim McGraw at the Aristocrat booth. Wheel of Fortune’s Vanna White celebrated IGT’s 20-year anniversary with the game.
Former NBA Commissioner David Stern was a keynote speaker and talked about sports gambling and Hall-of-Famer Shaquille O’Neal made an appearance.
Considering the excitement generated by the celebrities, game manufacturers left this year’s show feeling good about what’s to come.
“I do think this year’s show was busier than ever,” said Laura Olson-Reyes, executive director of corporate relations with Scientific Games. “There was more interest and more excitement, and I know the traffic at our booth was definitely greater than it was last year. We feel excited about the traffic and the interest customers showed in our products. There was a spirit of innovation in general among all the exhibitors at G2E.”
Olsen-Reyes said that whenever you see more people coming to a trade show and staying the full length of it, it represents more optimism in the economy.
Walking around the Sands Expo and Convention Center, one could see plenty of pop culture brands like “The Bachelor” dating show, National Lampoon’s “Vacation” and “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”
Manufacturers showed plenty of hardware innovation within the cabinets, making heavy use of high-definition video screens to attract attention and add drama to their games. Plenty of games showed off curved screens. Casinos are getting ready to roll out skill-based games by the end of the year with new regulations in place in Nevada and New Jersey and manufacturers showed they are ready with new technology to attract millennials.
“We’re all excited to see how they’re received and how well they perform,” Olson-Reyes said.
Scientific Games, for example, won best slot product at the show for its new Space Invaders skill-based game. It’s just like the old Atari and arcade game that many older slot players, even in their 50s, grew up with.
The game plays like a traditional slot machine until you get to the bonus round, when you can choose either skill or luck. If you choose luck, it continues like a traditional slot machine, but if you choose skill, you get to play Space Invaders like many did as children on their home Atari system or in the arcade.
Since innovation was a theme of the show, slot makers incoporated social components into their cabinets in hope of attracting millennials in addition to older adults.
Scientific Games’ PRIZM Game Table features a 65-inch 4K display with a communal table with seating for four. Players can even charge their phones. The game is a table and community-style game where players don’t compete against each other directly but can sit and talk and drink and share in bonus play together. By pushing a bonus set, everyone can share in the group’s win.
Aristocrat unveiled new titles featuring Tim McGraw, Mariah Carey, Game of Thrones, The Big Lebowski, The X Files, Candy Land and Dumb &Dumber.
Konami Gaming rolled out skill-based, multistation slots, including a video-mechanical horse racing slot and Frogger, a skill-based game people have played for years as a video game. Konami’s focus continues to be on its video-arcade and amusement heritage.