n your view, how has recent ICE show been like?
For me, I sense this is probably one of the best ICE shows ever. ICE has always been our biggest international event and I believe this year it will be the biggest global show in terms of visitation; close to several thousand visitors for this particular event, from all corners of the world, which is very exciting. Having said that I must point out that G2E is of significant importance to the international customer base and remains IGTs largest gaming show globally.
Here at the IGT booth, we have an abundance of games and technology on display, including market-attuned game content, plus we are showcasing for the first time, the IGT Cloud. Consequently, customer interest has been sky-high at our booth, with a great deal of interest in our market-attuned games from our Latin American customers. One of our specialized endeavors for the Latin American market is focusing on what kind of games resonate with local players and to determine this we have invested a large amount of time and resources in conducting market research across the region. The same is true with Asia and we will be doing additional market research in more countries and regions across our International geography as we move forward with this concept.
To date, we have already conducted about 2,000 patron interviews, the data from which is really helping us to identify the ‘secret-sauce’ of game popularity and performance in specific markets. I call it the ‘gaming-genome’ database and I believe it will be something that will really help us put distance between us and the competition in terms of game performance. The process is quite simple really; gather and analyze the data, draw conclusions from the information and then build better products to meet the needs of the local players. With this information in hand, developing localized themes around these new games becomes a relatively quick and easy process. Ultimately, the result of all of this work manifests itself in an underlying math models that is market-attuned, game dynamics that are market attuned and the final look of the product, which really resonates with the local players. To date, we are in the process of releasing two new market-attuned games into the market, “Huevocartoon” and “Día de Muertos”, and we’re already seeing some great performance from “Dia de Muertos” on the floor in Mexico.
The second theme we are exhibiting at the show revolves around our pop culture games. As you know we have a very strong relationship with Sony as well as other major licensors, which allow us to develop blockbuster games like The Hangover, Ghostbusters, Sex and the City Fabulous and others. We also are debuting ELVIS the King this year at ICE. If you have the chance to play the ELVIS the King game, it is a wonderful experience. Overall, we use market-attuned content and popular culture brands to create the exceptional games that have made IGT famous.
And then the third theme is the IGT Cloud that targets those operators who are looking to extract even more efficiency from their operations. What we are going to be able to offer in the very near future is the ability for the operator to host their casino management infrastructure in the IGT Cloud, privately and securely, while paying something akin to a daily service subscription. Operators will access the Cloud and, using a simple device like an iPad, and can download and configure games to their local machines, change game themes, measure and perform analytics and make better decisions faster for the benefit of their customers and the casino. So I believe the IGT Cloud brings a fantastic new dimension of operational efficiency to our customers that they should take a look at; it’s really game changing technology!
Will it happen in the near future?
We faced economic troubles in the industry over the last three years, and I think we are coming though it stronger. I believe all operators have become increasingly resilient, but will continue investing in good games, and are looking to increase their infrastructure efficiency. And if they want to make a huge leap of efficiency, the IGT Cloud is the way they should go. Why would an operator invest in a server infrastructure when they can just host it in the Cloud?
What do you think about the critical situation in Europe? Is it a problem or an opportunity for IGT?
On one hand, whenever there are troubled economic times, this is sometimes be viewed as an opportunity for governments to invest in or sanction responsible gaming in order to put newly gained taxes back into the local economies, which in turn creates an environment for growth and so becomes a virtuous cycle. But on the other hand, reality bites! This is a really tough market for operators to thrive in where disposable income isn’t so disposable anymore. In spite of these economic woes, I see a certain resilience, practicality and toughness in the way European operators are approaching the market. They are also hugely creative and have strong business savvy to see them through. I also believe they have become extremely sensible about their spending and about the way they run their operations more efficiently. An operator’s spend is appropriated more wisely and they tend to focus on the big, high performance game themes.
This is why I believe the combination of the big brands that you see here on our stand, the market-attuned content and the IGT Cloud, will be successful for IGT and for our customers. For sure, it has been a challenging year for many, and although I haven’t seen IGT’s economic report yet, I do know the international portion of the business grew 24 percent year-over-year despite the European economic crisis. And for us, that’s a great indicator that we are doing the right things, working ‘hand-in-glove’ with our customers to make them successful for the long-term.