A selection of WMS’s top performing technology in Asia
When WMS introduced this groundbreaking product—a video projected over mechanical reels—at G2E in Las Vegas in November 2006, it was an immediate hit with players and the industry alike, picking up awards for innovation.
“Transmissive Reels have been very successful already in the BLUEBIRD 1 cabinet. In Macau, The Grand Lisboa, The Venetian, and MGM [GRAND Macau] all use them. This combination of video and mechanical reel product has really taken off,” says Mr Gribble.
“In June, the first Transmissive Reels in the BLUEBIRD 2 cabinet were fired up at City of Dreams [Melco Crown Entertainment’s new Cotai resort]. It’s a 22-inch widescreen, with double screen format and thinner cabinet design,” he adds.
The smaller footprint of BLUEBIRD 2 gives operators the opportunity to improve further their yield per square foot on the gaming floor, while the double screen feature ensures that player entertainment and interaction is actually increased. A pull handle on the BLUEBIRD 2 is optional, depending on the preference of the property or of the local market.
Games—Hot Hot Super Respin™
A five-reel game using Transmissive Reels technology is Hot Hot Super Respin.
“It’s very adrenalin pumping,” says Mr Gribble.
“It freezes winning symbols, allowing you to re-spin the remainder and increase your chances of winning.”
A notable feature of the video-meets-mechanical technology of Transmissive Reels is the way the reels slow before stopping, just like an old-fashioned fully mechanical game. For the players, it creates a sense of anticipation akin to card peeking in baccarat.
“You can really get a very high multiple of whatever your bet was,” states Mr Gribble.
“The Max Win character is a mystery feature. The character will wave his wand to randomly issue bonus credits or multipliers. It feeds the anticipation of winning and a sense for the player of how their luck is progressing. It takes you completely away from the traditional format of the simple five-reel spin,” he explains.
Another Transmissive Reels offering from WMS is Goldfish.
“With this one, we’ve got a real fish tank up above [the bank of machines]. That’s something a little different to look at,” says Mr Gribble.
As with Hot Hot Super Respin, the game uses animated ‘characters’ that communicate with the players, creating a more personal relationship between player and game.
“A lot of these characters and the animations were developed for our server-based technology and system. This software can also be ported back to stand-alone machines,” explains Mr Gribble.
“It offers very detailed, high quality graphics. Each of the characters presented on the graphical interface is friendly and approachable. When you trigger a bonus round, you can see that. Take the red fish bonus as an example.
“We pick three clams and those are our wild symbols now. The character moves around the screen and touches any symbol we have on our list—so we’re basically interacting with this guy [the animated character]. That, in turn, lets the player know that the play is not scripted. You know you have a shot at winning if you pick the right symbol. That just validates that it’s a fair machine,” asserts Mr Gribble.
The G+ Series is an entire line of streamlined, free-spin based video slot games designed specifically to let players celebrate the win.
“The idea is that if you’re really into getting on with the betting, you get to play four games at the same time,” says Stuart Gribble. Samurai Master is a good example of the genre.
“What the player’s looking for is that with an initial bet of 80, you want over an over 100 times bet. This is the kind of win I want—120 times bet, 130 times bet. That makes me a happy gambler,” he explains.
Zeus is another G+ Series game that performs exceptionally well in Asia, says Mr Gribble.
“We have a local area network version of Zeus. It’s a game that has already proven to be very successful in a video format and is now available in a mechanical configuration. Now the latest is to add the two-level local area jackpot. The Transmissive Reels allow the more elaborate bet structures.”
Zeus is an embodiment of the G+ Series focus on celebrating wins.
“There’s lots of sound, motion, animation. Celebrating a win is a big thing. It’s all about ‘Everybody look at me, I’ve won a jackpot’,” states Mr Gribble.
“Zeus is absolutely one of the strongest titles in Macau. It’s carried on for three years. I think it was three years ago we put the first Zeus in over at The Sands [Macao]. It just shot to the top of the list along with Great Wall [of China, WMS’s highly popular five-reel video game].
“That’s why Great Wall as a standalone got turned into a progressive here [in Macau]. What’s different about the Great Wall mystery progressive is that instead of issuing you credits, we issue you free spins,” explains Stuart Gribble.
“It doesn’t have such big numbers [as some of the high volatility games], but as you see more and more play these things rise incrementally. The fact is you can win 53 free spins. That goes back to that Macau fascination with free spins in general and fast-playing games. So this suits that. It does it in a linked jackpot scenario.”
Spinning Streak™ is a hit game format from the Innovation Series. A total of 15 individual reels spin independently. When winning symbols appear, those winning symbols are held and all the other reels re-spin to give the player the chance of a bigger win. The net effect is that what starts as a small win can multiply into a huge one as the screen fills with award and bonus symbols.
“It’s a little bit like WMS’s Super Respin feature,” says Stuart Gribble.
“Once you have some of the wild symbols it will freeze those and give you a multiplier and re-spin the rest. When you’re in free spin mode, you have to wait for at least one winning combination to come up.”
Titles in the Spinning Streak format include Kingdom of the Titans.
Money Burst™ Series
This game series is targeted at players that love high volatility. A total of 60 lines go through just two rows on the first two reels. Money Burst is also excellent value for money, says Stuart Gribble, as players get those 60 lines for the price of just 30 credits. Money Burst also features clumped wilds and a special free spin bonus.
“It’s been out on the floor in Macau for about a year or so. Instead of your traditional five-reel, each one of these spins is a separate reel, so it’s almost the equivalent of a seven-reel game. It’s a 60-line game, which means that lower denomination [play] is the most suitable structure. The way you play out on it is you just want to watch the reels while the other ones are spinning, so that you know what your chances are of winning in the next two or three seconds.
“You get all the combinations possible out of the 60 pay-lines. It’s not the same old five-reel video some manufacturers produce,” asserts Mr Gribble.
Community games—MONOPOLY Big Event™
This community gaming product has been phenomenally successful since it was launched just under two years ago.
“If a player starts with 300 credits, for example, he automatically starts with a higher multiplier. Just by playing more I’ve got myself up to a two times multiplier,” explains Mr Gribble.
“The concept is that the higher the velocity of play, the higher you bet, the more frequently you’re spinning, the faster that multiplier goes up, and your countdown timer goes up by 30 seconds.
“What people [players] have worked out is that if you come with a bunch of friends and you all go into the bonus round together, you’ll all get higher multiples.”
Games—Powerball Power Seat™
“It plays very much like a community game,” says Mr Gribble.
“The difference is, where everyone in a community game is equal, in the sense that anyone that bets higher gets a higher multiple, in this game, one player gets randomly selected to have their seat designated as the Power Seat. The game actually moves back and forth among the players before deciding who’s in the Power Seat.
“Once you’re in the Power Seat, your bet multiples go up.”
What makes these games unique is that in place of traditional reel spins, the game symbols in Cascading Reels themes drop down into the reels from above.
This allows players to win additional pays as common reel symbols disappear after the initial pay. A second pay is then available on the new winning combinations.
“We’ve had Cascading Reels out in the Macau market for more than a year now and they’re very successful,” states Mr Gribble.
“The gem symbols have been very popular in Macau particularly. As you play any of these, instead of the standard spinning reels, you see it plays a little bit like Tetris [the classic video puzzle game first launched by a Russian programmer in 1984].”
Though Tetris has gone through many different versions in two and half decades, the game play style is consistent. A random sequence of shapes composed of four square blocks each falls down the playing field (a rectangular vertical shaft, called the ‘well’ or ‘matrix’). The object of the game is to manipulate these shapes by moving each one sideways and rotating it by 90-degree units, with the aim of creating a horizontal line of blocks without gaps.
“In Cascading Reels the three reels is your line count if you will, for your 30-line play. It shows you the extra line just so you can anticipate what comes next. As a line fills out, then the symbols drop down. It’s just a matter of player attention and the feeling of control,” explains Mr Gribble.