Players take a spin on not-yet-released slot machines
Joyce Phillis of Cranberry knows what she wants in a slot machine.
“I like interaction, where you have to pick something to get extra money,” she says. “I like noise. I don't like anything with a reel.”
She and about 540 other slot fans had plenty to choose from in a recent showing at Rivers Casino.
In the first such exhibit in Pennsylvania, five top slot manufacturers — Aristocrat Leisure, Bally Technologies, IGT, Konami Gaming and WMS Gaming — showed off their newest machines and got feedback from players.
Each slot maker set up five to seven machines in the casino's second-floor ballroom. Invited guests roamed around, test-driving titles such as Rolling Stones, featuring the tongue logo and music of the “greatest rock and roll band in the world;” Titanic, based on the blockbuster movie; Dungeons and Dragons, tied to the role-playing game; and Fabulous Fifties, which had players bopping and singing along to malt-shop hits.
Some machines, such as IGT's Jenga, have not been released, while others are on casino floors in Nevada or elsewhere. None is available in Pennsylvania yet.
Players got to spin as much as they wanted at no cost, but with no possibility of winning money. The machines were in demonstration mode, allowing bonus rounds to come up at will.
“Spin the rock and roll steel wheel,” the voice of Mick Jagger repeatedly yells from the Rolling Stones machine.
“We like to hear feedback,” says Patty Crescenzo, manager of corporate gaming for Aristocrat. The company spends about $20 million a year in slot-machine research and development, releasing 50 to 60 titles per year. She says players like the $2.50 per spin maximum on the Stones machine, which costs a penny per credit.
Pete Wichterman, Eastern region sales representative for Bally's, says the company generally gets customer feedback through focus-group testing in Las Vegas, where the company is headquartered. Bally's is “very rarely” involved in casino shows like the one at Rivers.
Getting player viewpoints is valuable.
“We'll add more bonus features, take some away, tweak some — it's all based on customer feedback,” Wichterman says.
Developing and designing a game such as Titanic can take 12 to 18 months, with player testing done at several stages, Wichterman says. Bally's releases 100 to 125 unique themes per year.
Butterfly Fairy from Bally's, which is not released yet, gives players the option of buying an instant bonus round for $20 to $100, depending on the number of bonus spins.
“It's a new concept. We're always trying new things and seeing how they take off,” Wichterman says.
It's meant to appeal to players who have gambled for a while but have not hit a bonus level.
Players like bonus rounds, and manufacturers incorporate several types so gamblers are less likely to get bored with the machine.
Rick Shrupp of Ross enjoys games with bonus rounds.
“Those can be generous, but oftentimes they're not,” he says. “If I'm going to gamble, I like to win a little bit.”
The Dungeons and Dragons machine in the Konami exhibit attracted Mary Moore of Penn Hills, who played the original game on early computers.
She enjoys slot machines with good graphics and lots of color — but not loud sounds.
“I grew up with six kids. I've had more than enough noise to last,” she says.
Customer feedback from the show will help Rivers officials decide which slots might be popular with customers. The responses also help manufacturers because “No game is ever beyond the tweaking stage,” IGT account manager Andre Brunette says.
Phillis poses the ultimate customer question:
“Is this a loose machine?” she asks at the Konami display. “That's the machine I'm going to give really high marks for. We have enough tight ones.”
Mark Gruetze is administrative editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7838 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.