Another day of expo hall exploration (technically day 2 for the hall, and day 3 overall for the conference) is concluded. We were able to explore some more booths, and had some additional observations that came from the day’s exploration.
Inspiration Sometimes Comes From Next Door
A few times this conference already I’ve said “this reminds me of X” and the response is something to the effect of “we may have drawn inspiration from that” as a response.
This isn’t a new thing, but this year it feels a bit more prominent, where we’ve seen a number of major developers taking a swing at their own take on something prominent already on the casino floor.
The three pot/bags/etc. is the most broad example of that right now, a mechanic that started with Aristocrat’s Fu Dai Lian Lian series, but it has cropped up in other ways too, sometimes more subtle but if you’re playing close enough attention you can see the through lines.
Marquee Licensing Still Plays a Role
Many slot makers are using prominent themes as a hook this year, a trend that seems to come and go. Deal or No Deal will make a return to the slot machine arena thanks to a new offering by Gaming Arts. Whitney Houston is a highlighted theme leveraging the popular Prosperity Link game structure from IGT.
It’s hard to avoid both Aristocrat’s investment in six (6!) NFL-themed games in different formats by Aristocrat. And Light & Wonder has been leaning in to it’s interesting Squid Game license this year, adding to a reliable bank of brands such as Willy Wonka and Wizard of Oz that continue to be workhorses for the company.
Players sometimes get worried about the payback scenarios on licensed games (you shouldn’t be as worried as you would think in most cases), but they remain popular enough and continue to draw players on a casino floor, so they keep coming out.
Table Game Innovation Progresses
Even though table games have a long history, and the games themselves are pretty stable in what is offered, innovation still continues.
Interblock, for instance, was offering an interesting hybrid pit that shifted away from a one-to-many stadium pit concept to more of a scenario where different types of tables were open and available, some of which had the same capacity as standard tables.
For instance, you could sit at a Blackjack table, placing bets on a screen (no chip management, mistakes made with payment and so on) while still having a dealer specific to your table. (If the game pace is moving too slow, you could play multiple games, such as roulette and Blackjack at the same time, similar to the stadium formats.)
The key: Digital management of bankroll and payouts, which speed up the payouts (dealer busts, everyone gets paid instantly) as well as the ability to add more side bets (which carries a higher house advantage for the casino, but some Blackjack players enjoy to bump up the overall volatility). In fact, their table games were offering nine side bets, all of which could be bet at once, or players could select the ones they enjoy most.
They also showed off a single-dealer craps table model that featured high-tech detection of dice rolls to avoid some of the issues previous offerings had, while offering additional security and piece of mind for players that rolls that are made are recorded accurately.
Table games technology is an area that will likely be a focal point in the coming years, as it continues to evolve for both players and operators.