Bigger than any casino floor and even more bewildering, the Global Gaming Expo brought about 25,000 attendees to Las Vegas to check out the newest games and latest trends.
Like everyone else, the gaming industry is attempting to court millennials, and this year’s G2E reflected that in several ways. The convention added its first “Integrated Resort Experience,” an array of food, beverage, spa and entertainment vendors. Casinos have been seeing declines in gaming revenues over the past few years, but there’s an uptick in guests’ expenditures on entertainment, dining and shopping. The IRE featured wine tastings, fashion shows, neck massages and, just to remind us why we’re really there, slot machines and gaming tables scattered throughout.
The other trend geared toward the younger generation is skill-based gaming. Last month, the Nevada Gaming Commission created rules and guidelines for games that combine luck and expertise and, in a panel at G2E, several gaming experts wondered about how this new paradigm would play out. “So many things compete for millennials’ attention and money,” said Melissa Price of Caesars Entertainment, adding that “multitasking” games will appeal to a younger audience. However, she also points out that casino owners need to be ready to change how they choose games. Operators often give a machine a 30-day tryout and, if it doesn’t profit, it goes. “The games have to stay on the floor longer,” she says, noting that players need to become familiar with the game for the “skill” aspect to kick in.
The convention floor featured some of these skill-based games. Gamblit had a wide array, from multiplayer table games to bartop tablets. A “guess the phrase” game invited players to use their brains to solve the puzzle, but left the amount won up to chance. Similarly, Nanotech Gaming’s electronic pinball-type game balances the player’s ability to shoot the “ball” with a point reward that is left up to chance.
We could start seeing skill-based gaming in casinos sometime in 2016. But, until then, there’s always slots….
Seven Best New Video Slots
We’re not sure what “Heisenberg bonus triggered!” means and we’re not sure we want to, but we know that it involves multiple instances of the scowling visage of Bryan Cranston. In case you were wondering, no, it does not pay out in little baby blue rocks.
2. Game of Thrones
Well, the fact that the chair only has a picture of the Iron Throne on it leaves one feeling a little cheated. The giant monitor is probably bigger than whatever screen you actually watch the show on, the better to enjoy whatever video excerpt is summoned by getting all the gold hands or direwolves or Joffreys in a row.
The TV gossip show puts you in the game. No, really, it can snap a photo and smack your face amongst the crew on the Mystery Machine—sorry, news van—as you track down D-listers such as David Hasselhoff and Lindsay Lohan. One question: Why is the “Celeb XXX tape” icon a VHS? Doesn’t that stuff just go straight from iPhone to YouTube?
4. Orange Is the New Black
“Crazy Eyes WILD feature activated!” Enough said.
5. Downton Abbey
You’d think this one would have a lovely carved mahogany case and a tufted velvet seat, perhaps with a little crystal bell to ring for your cocktail waitress. Alas, no, but it is the only game where you try to get legs of lamb or plates of watercress sandwiches in a row. Achieve raspberry merengue and get 5,000 credits.
6. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Not as large or elaborate as the other games, Monty Python is more just another machine to put in a row next to the bathroom. While we wish there was a Knights Who Say “Ni!” bonus round, we’ll settle for watching John Cleese’s disembodied head spin past.
7. The Simpsons
About 15 feet high and topped with a rotating golden doughnut the size of a truck tire, the first Simpsons video slots game is certainly eye-catching. Each machine has five screens that vibrate with clips, cartoons and, of course, the spinning heads of Bart, Apu, Wiggum and the rest. Bonus: The seats are Homer-size.