WMS Gaming is mapping a strategy for success in Asia based on a dynamic new cabinet and a portfolio packed with new regionally specific games
Never a company to take a back seat when it comes to innovation, WMS Gaming decided last year to take a hiatus from Macau’s slot floors to retool on a new platform for the dual-language requirement the territory imposed in 2012 and to develop game themes and math models tailored to a market that is growing in importance for the US-based slot giant.
“The difference in the past was that the translation strategy and the customization strategy was a bit hit-or-miss,” says Jon Lancaster, Executive Director of International Sales for WMS. “But in the last 12 months we’ve looked at that in light of the new regulations and our commitment to the region, and we have a clear pipeline now of games which: a) are translated and b) specifically designed for this region— customized math models, customized themes and compliant for the Macau and Singapore markets.”
WMS signaled its return in a big way at G2E Asia 2013 with more than 30 games on a range of stylishly functional cabinet configurations, powered by the advanced CPU-NXT2 and CPU-NXT3 operating systems, and bolstered by an array of new math models that answer the Macau player’s demand for a more varied experience with a shot at bigger payouts. These include new themes targeted specifically at the Asian market and developed in partnership with a design studio in the region, new game sets for the Game Chest Multi-Game series, WMS’ first multi-game portfolio, and several new themes for the proven performer series G+ Deluxe, G+ Deluxe 5×4 and Colossal Reels.
“We have a roadmap of themes for this region,” says Julien Drouet, Director of International Product Management for WMS.
The first group of games to be unveiled this summer on the Blade cabinet will include the new Fortune Palace theme. This 5×4-Reel 40-line game showcases “Asianized” math and innovative CPU-NXT3 features such as “Bonus Guarantee,” which assures players that when max lines are played, the free spin bonus is guaranteed to award a minimum of 10x total bet, and “Wager Saver,” where a player whose bank is down is provided the option of betting their remaining credits in order to win enough to spin one more time and place one more bet. Similar targeted math models and features have been designed for titles including Lantern Festival, Emperors & Pharoahs and Fortune Ruler, with a steady stream of new titles arriving in the months ahead.
Spider-Man, a Sensory Immersion 2.0 game, features a synchronized motion chair and theater-quality sound and graphics.
“The goal is to re-establish our reputation,” says Mr Lancaster. “We’ve still got a footprint, but now with the new product we want to build on that. We’re going to be establishing our standalone product. Then, nine or 10 months from now, we’re going to have the first local-area progressives coming through. So step by step.”
The new Blade cabinet figures prominently in this plan. Boldly styled and instantly eye-catching, the cabinet was shown at G2E for the first time in 2012, and its unique aesthetics were enhanced this year at G2E Asia 2013 with a library of exclusive game content developed with Asian players in mind. The insights of many of those players, combined with operator feedback, have been integral to the design, and the processing power of the CPU-NXT3 means more features and a richer visual experience than ever seen before.
Mr Drouet describes it as a three part product offering: beginning with the introduction of the first titles on the Blade cabinet; followed by local-area progressives, both fitted with Macau-specific math models; and an aggressive move into participation games.
‘We have a roadmap of themes for this region,’ says Julien Drouet, director of International Product Management.
“We want to become a presence here,” he says, “and we’re putting the resources and energy into that. We decided to do it right.”
Licensed titles have always been a strong suit for WMS and two iconic brands —Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory and Spider-Man—were highlighted at last month’s show.
The company believes in the cross-cultural appeal of Spider-Man. This is WMS at its innovative best, a Sensory Immersion 2.0 game that leverages the interactive excitement of D-BOX Technologies’ synchronized motion chair and the theater-quality sound and graphics powered by the CPU-NXT3 platform to deliver an unforgettable game experience. The unique play dynamics come courtesy of its “dual-array” reel-spinning video action—two full 5×3 reel layouts along with six random “Spider-Sense” features coupled with exciting bonus rounds that include video and audio clips from the popular Hollywood film franchise.
With the Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory game, another Sensory Immersion 2.0 offering, players get to explore the “Scrumdidilyumptious” joy of pursuing a jackpot by finding a “Golden Ticket” hidden in a “Wonka Bar” while the odds of finding it increase each time the jackpot is not won. And a ride on the “Chocolate River Boat” comes to life thanks to the trademark graphics, superior play mechanics and advanced touchscreen functionalities, all synchronized with the excitement of the D-BOX motion chair. Even the game’s “Wonkavator” feature, the free-spin trigger used to determine which bonus round will be awarded, is motion-enabled.
Colossal Reels, which was also featured, is another top performer for WMS by virtue of the wide-screen Bluebird2e and Bluebird xD cabinets and the robust capabilities of the CPU-NXT2 platform. The series features two reel sets—traditional and oversized—that transfer wild symbols between reels. The series has been expanded this year with two new game themes and math models, both featured at this year’s G2E Asia.
In all, WMS is confident in the opportunity to expand its floor share, and looks forward to continuing to be a committed partner to this important market.