Why Do Popular Themes Disappear So Quickly?

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Vanna White on a Wheel of Fortune slot machine

A portion of the games you find in a casino will link to popular themes that draw in players, but why do they disappear so fast?

Tv or movie themed slot games that slot players really enjoy playing disappear quickly. The Munsters, I Dream of Jeannie are mentioned repeatedly as favorite games. Why do they disappear if players like them so much? Can slot companies bring back favorite slot games?

Christine N.

Slot makers certainly have the potential ability to bring a game back, presuming the licensee (whoever owns the brand the slot is made after) approves it and the game is licensed. Disney is notorious for not allowing any slots branded after their IP – there were Marvel-themed slots before their acquisition but we haven’t seen any in recent years, for instance.

But the most common reason you see these slots disappear and not return comes down to simple economics. Most of the licensed themes are used on slots that are leased – this means the casinos pay a daily fee to have the game on their floor. Since they don’t own the game, the performance is watched very carefully, and the games will get swapped out pretty fast if they’re not pulling their weight enough.

In other cases, games that are popular may get pulled because the license has ended – slot makers know there’s a lifespan to a game, and when the license is complete, the games have to come off the floor. We wrote about one example where a Titanic themed slot lease was ended, even though the game was popular at the casino and the casino was open to keeping it going.

Remaking a game requires an investment of time in redevelopment, updating the art for a more modern, higher resolution cabinet, and marketing it back out to casinos. The economics of this with a licensed theme is simply harder to pull off, with the potential that it may flop on today’s casino floor.

Licenses that made sense 10 or 20 years ago, like The Munsters or I Dream of Jeannie, may be passed over for more modern licenses that resonate with both younger and older generations – it’s why some themes endure (such as game shows still on the air like The Price is Right and Wheel of Fortune) while others have evolved in selection (such as Whitney Houston, the NFL, Deal or No Deal and Squid Game, all showcased at G2E last October).

So in the end it just comes down to the economics of making such a slot viable, and reviving old games doesn’t tend to have the same cachet as shiny new ones, so when a licensed game disappears from the casino floor the odds of it returning aren’t high.

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