rom all products AGS exhibited during the 2016 ICE, what was your showcase hit?
Although our entire lineup of table game innovations and social casino products generated interest, our biggest hits at the exhibition were Buster Blackjack and Top 5 Poker. We believe these two new games showed so well because European players have a strong appetite for high-volatility and high-excitement games.
With over 300 units in the U.S., Buster Blackjack, is a unique side bet that allows players to win based on the number of cards in a dealer’s busted hand. Top 5 Poker is a fast-paced and simple game where each player and the dealer are dealt seven cards to get the most high-ranking cards of the deck (A/K/Q/J/10) as possible.
Who is the player of the future? How would you describe them? What are their characteristics?
As AGS sees it, the player of the future will want more social interaction, skill, strategy, and prize variety than today’s typical brick and mortar player or social gaming player. Growing up in an era where smartphones, Apple TV, Instagram, and SnapChat are the standard, tomorrow’s players are extremely tech-savvy free thinkers who want more than just money. Instead, they’ll expect a greater variety of prizes to choose from that are unique and based on what personally appeals to them. You can already see this in action across other kinds of consumer goods. This variety will extend past cash, and we see player appetite growing for unforgettable, unique experiences, like premier concert tickets or a custom motorcycle of their dreams. However, history shows us that generation after generation, the most essential component of compelling gaming experiences centers around engaging game dynamics – such as math, volatility, fun-factor, etc. – and these characteristics will still prevail for the future gambler.
"Our priority is to create mobile versions of our games that play exactly like their brick-and-mortar counterparts"
How are companies adapting their product offering to cater to this new type of player?
We’re seeing companies like Gamblit, Konami, and others dive head first into weaving traditional gambling games with skill-based features in an effort to appeal to this new type of player. Other companies like egb.com and ebttle.com are tapping into competitive video gaming by letting players place bets on their skills and offering odds and real money rewards along with prizes and bonuses.
At AGS we’re focused on adapting and expanding our products to appeal to this new type of player as well. Our growing library of innovative table game products and social casino apps both offer a more social, interactive gaming experience than more traditional offerings. Our new Bonus Spin™ technology is a great example of this.
Bonus Spin is a customizable, virtual prize wheel that connects to any table game. When players hit a certain hand they get to spin the wheel, which not only adds more excitement to the game, but it also makes it much more interactive. Taking it a step further, Bonus Spin gives casinos the ability to tailor the prizes so that they appeal to this next generation of players. For example, instead of just awarding cash, casinos can offer experiences like VIP bottle service, UFC fight tickets, or a weekend in the Presidential Suite, all things that would be more appealing to the next-gen player.
We also believe that live table games are inherently skill-based, therefore the action, volatility and specific play dynamics that these games offer resonate with younger players. With over 20 different table game titles in our library, we have something that caters to every kind of player appetite.
Mobile and online gaming, once synonymous with innovation, have become common currency. What new ways of innovating will the industry see in the coming years?
Many companies will focus on developing games that include Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality as that technology becomes more widespread with consumers. In addition, we think the industry will also see more skill-based mobile and online games developed as more jurisdictions open the door with skill-based regulations.
At AGS, our priority is to create mobile versions of our games that play exactly like their brick-and-mortar counterparts.
However, we’re also including new features that enhance the online game, but only in a way that doesn’t deviate from the classic land-based slot game format. Another area we expect to enhance is cross-promotional opportunities for our land-based casino customers. We’re expecting to include a “Now Playing” feature within each game, so that our mobile audience knows where they can play these titles in an actual brick-and-mortar casino.
We’re also moving forward with Unity as our main development platform because it offers us the opportunity to more closely mirror the high fidelity art, sounds, and music of our land-based titles when we move them to mobile. It also provides us with deep control over assets, giving us the ability to create pixel-perfect graphics using ultra HD textures and merge them with next-gen effects and image processing tools.
How do you assess your participation in the 2016 edition of ICE? What feedback did you receive from European attendees?
We’re extremely satisfied with our participation at this year’s ICE. Over the past 18 months, AGS has expanded its product portfolio and it was both rewarding and exciting to share our growth with the international gaming community. Last year was our first appearance at ICE, and we showcased just four table game products; this year, we exhibited our social casino games and nine innovative table game offerings, which demonstrated our commitment to bringing a greater value proposition to our international customers. The feedback we received from European attendees was exceptional. We had a great response to all of our product offerings, especially Buster Blackjack and Top 5 poker, and we’ve already begun translating commitments and strong interest at the show into new business for AGS.