Weike Gaming Technology pushes into Macau with its new series of slot machines
For David Kinsman, CEO of Singapore-based gaming machine manufacturer Weike Gaming Technology, it’s all about the game.
“The player doesn’t play the box. He doesn’t play the cabinet. He plays the game,” he reminds us.
Mr Kinsman was in Macau last month to oversee the installation of several banks of Weike’s new INFINITY series of slot machines at Venetian Macao. The INFINITY platform and gaming machine range secured GLI-11 approval late last year, and its performance and appeal will determine whether Mr Kinsman can take Weike beyond its established markets in Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines.
Two of the INFINITY series games installed at Venetian Macau have already been performing well in Weike’s established markets, including Oriental Fantasy—”one of the two top games in Singapore,” according to Mr Kinsman—and Yokoso Japan. The third is a new game, Cat Safari.
The best performing slot games to date in Macau have all featured high volatility, which bodes well for Oriental Fantasy’s chances in the market. Mr Kinsman attributes the success of Oriental Fantasy in Weike’s other markets to the game’s volatility. “Players love games with volatility. They don’t love every volatile game, but the stand-out games that really do well in the field—from any manufacturer—usually have a fair amount of volatility.”
Macau’s slot machine market is set to explode. Although the city’s overall casino revenue is falling because of declining revenue in the still-dominant VIP baccarat market, it appears mass market and slot revenue are holding strong. Part of the reason for that appears to be a greater emphasis on marketing slots at Macau’s casinos. Macau’s casinos had previously neglected slots because the big money was made in the VIP rooms. With the decline of the VIP market, and margins on VIP business already having been decimated by the junket commission war, slot machines offering a stable and safe return are becoming a more compelling investment.
Despite the economic gloom, for Weike—voted “Best Asian Manufacturer” by the judging panel for the Inside Asian Gaming – 2009 Supplier Awards—it could be boom-time in Macau. Mr Kinsman reveals that “within the next three months, we’ll have four different locations [in Macau] running Weike equipment, including our METG [multi-player electronic table game] tables”
The METG range includes the five-seat Revo, which, according to Mr Kinsman, is the market leading electronic gaming table in Asia. The Revo has been available for about four years around the region, and Mr Kinsman adds “technology-wise it’s a great product. Very reliable. Very secure. We have hundreds of them in the field, and it’s been tested and tested and tested.” The Revo offers Macau operators a way to save on dealer salaries and offer lower denomination bets to draw incremental mass market revenue. The Pal X electronic poker table, also in the METG range, could also help drive Macau’s nascent poker market.
“One of the benefits of the Weike platform is its ease of game development,” says Mr Kinsman. We can put a game together, including certification, in 10 to 12 weeks, including GLI approval. We can move very quickly when an operator says to us, ‘look, we’ve got an idea for a game.’ If we’re working with operators closely, we often develop along their ideas. And sometimes we’ll even give them exclusivity on games that they want to suggest to us.
“So we get the best of both worlds. We’ve got our own game development concepts. We then use our client’s game development concepts, and we work together. We find that it’s a matter of trying to do some different things. Not every game is going to be a winner, but when you do get something that works, the trick is to learn what makes it work, then develop another game that might have some concept similarity, but presentation differences, and really isn’t a clone by any means.
“Instead of just cloning a successful game, like some of our competitors do—you know, you’ve got one game that works so you immediately make five more of the same game but just different name, different graphics—we try to make each game a little bit different.”
After appointing Andrew Mason as its new head of game development late last year, Weike is set to release a stream of competitively-priced new products that Mr Kinsman hopes will show the market “that one thing Weike stands for is the ability to innovate, and take a chance and do something different.”
Coming soon to Macau, “we’ll have a game called Circus, and another game called Monkey King,” says Mr Kinsman. “Every operator that’s seen Monkey King is very enthusiastic about it. It’s something a little bit different, based on the famous Monkey King character, and we think it’s going to be very successful.”