Every big industry has its annual tradeshows, and most unveil new products and services with leggy convention girls and fancy booths; but when you’re the annual tradeshow for the casino industry and its gaming manufacturers, you just have to up the pizzazz factor a bit. So count on this year’s Global Gaming Expo (G2E) – coming to the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas later this month – to do just that.
All That Jazz
This year’s show is bringing a bevy of celebrities, rock stars, and race car drivers to wow attendees and draw their attention to new games being unveiled in this highly competitive business. Among the anticipated stars are TV’s Judge Judy, marketing behemoth/rock group Kiss, Las Vegas’ “Pawn Stars” quirky celebs, and a bunch of NASCAR drivers, all promoting new slot games associated with their brands. Because make no mistake about it, slot branding is big, big money for everyone involved.
And that’s just the beginning. Also set to appear are celebrity magician and long-time Vegas headliner David Copperfield; Adam West (TV’s original “Batman”) and legendary rock group ZZ Top. Oh, and apparently some zombies will also be making the rounds, along with some other kookie characters.
Slots machines – like Hollywood itself – are both big business, and show business. They say you have to spend money to make money, and that’s exactly the tac that slot manufacturers will be taking at this year’s show when it opens Sept. 24. And what seems to draw casino customers are somewhat interactive, familiar brands that resonate with them, including nostalgic TV shows and celebs of yesteryear. Manufacturers have discovered that including well-known movie clips and music in bonus rounds is also a big draw for players. And with a few slow recessionary years to overcome, these game creators know they need to pull out all the stops to get casino execs spending again.
Heavy Hitters Bringing Back Nostalgic TV Show Games
Among the top name-brand attendees will be the slot industry’s heavy hitters; companies like International Game Technology (IGT), Aristocrat Technologies, and WMS Industries.
IGT will be heavy on movie themes with their games, launching new products based on oldies but goodies such as “Jurassic Park,” “Back to the Future,” and “Bridesmaids.” Not to be outdone, Aussie manufacturer Aristocrat has a new game based on the 1980s classic film “Flashdance,” as well as one on the original “Batman” TV series from the 1960s. To kick that game off, TV’s original Batman Adam West will be signing autographs next to his Batmobile in the company’s exclusive G2E showroom.
WMS will be launching a game based on the old “Iron Man” series, as well as one on the 1980s popular film ““Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” Guess we can see which demographic these companies are trying to appeal to.
What casinos are trying to replicate with any new game purchases is the insane success of games like “Wheel of Fortune,” brought out by IGT in the 1990s and based, of course, on the perennial TV hit show. It’s still a standard and launched many a knock-off that incorporated that game’s bonus jackpot spin technology. Of course, Pat Sajak and Vanna White – who already have the easiest and most lucrative gig in Hollywood – get a piece of the action with their images all over the machines.
Perhaps surprisingly, “Wheel of Fortune” remains a top performer, according to the Eilers-Fantini Slot Survey of slot machine floor managers.