Scientific Game

Ballyhoo

The new Bally-SHFL combination will be at G2E Asia showing what it’s got—and it’s more than Asia has ever seen under one roof

Wednesday, 14 May 2014 13:00
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G2E Asia 2014 will be the region’s first look at the biggest Bally Technologies it’s ever seen, pumped with SHFL’s added muscle and eager to show a range of games and systems and supporting products and technologies that for sheer scale has no equal in the industry— everything from linked progressives and standalones to electronic multi-station and proprietary table games to table game utilities and displays to a state-of-the-art casino management system. 

It’s going to take a whopping 600 square meters of the floor at The Venetian Macao Convention & Exhibition Center to display it all.

“It’s the biggest stand for either  Bally or SHFL by a long shot,” says KenJolly, executive vice president of what is now the Asia subsidiary of Bally’s SHFL entertainment. “It’s very nicely branded. Very well-done. You’ll know who we are.”

 The new slots alone will number more than 100, and they will include more games developed specifically for Asia, and for Macau in particular, than Bally’s ever shown; which only makes sense when you look at the quarter ended 31st March, the most recent for the NYSE-listed slot giant and the first full quarter including SHFL’s results—34% of new unit sales were to customers outside the United States. Last year at this time it was 17%. And the influence of SHFL, as you’d expect, is becoming more pronounced. Sales of table products (utilities and proprietary games) generated 13% of the company’s record revenue of US$338.4 million for the quarter, up from 7% over the last three quarters combined. Bally is now a company with a larger installed base of PTGs than linked progressives.

“G2E Asia is the perfect venue to showcase our full array of new content, including table games, since our acquisition of SHFL entertainment last November,” says Srini Raghavan, senior vice president of Asia, India, and South Africa. “Visitors to our booth will see that Bally is committed to serving the needs of the Asia-Pacific market.” This will be evident in an array of artfully

themed new titles—Fu Dao Le, Super Red Phoenix, Super Rise of Ra, Fu Lion and Aztec Dawn among them—all featured on the innovative Alpha 2 Pro Wave, a cabinet unlike any on a casino floor, a sleek, almost liquid extension of Bally’s workhorse Alpha 2 Pro Series V32 with eight inches added to the portrait-style LCD touchscreen monitor in a player interface that curves inward a full 40 inches in height.

The Asia focus is notable in the prominence of stacked symbols, in Fu Dao Le, for example, where they appear as game logos at first and then are revealed as a line or wild symbol, and with the Reel Blast concept incorporated in Aztec Dawn, a free games mystery feature in which reels 3 and 4 become a single big reel with one symbol covering 12 game spots on each of three reel sets.

Block Pays is the name of the simple yet intriguing approach to symbols that lies at the heart of Emperor’s Seal, an all-new three-level linked progressive on SHFL’s robust Equinox cabinet that aims to build on the prodigious success of Duo Fu Duo Cai. Emperor’s Seal will debut at G2E Asia on top of Beijing Opera and Forbidden Beauty. Both are new, both obviously target the Chinese player, and how Block Pays works on both is that any stack of nine symbols pays a scatter prize regardless of whether they’re stacked right to left, as in most games. With substitute symbols on reel 5 the block also acts to trigger the jackpot feature, where the player tries to match three “Seals” of the same color, each color corresponding to a prize level. But the really captivating part is that as the player bets up, the more symbols they load on the reel. Betting maximum credits ensures it’s always the substitute, and then only a block of two reels is needed elsewhere on the screen.

It’s a variation on the mechanics that have made Duo Fu Duo Cai the regional phenomenon that it is, notably in the similarities to the latter’s All Up feature, where all lines are always in play even at minimum bet, and as you buy more “Gold” symbols you access a higher-paying scorecard with more chances at a progressive win.

 

Emperor’s Seal, like Duo Fu Duo Cai, was conceived with Macau “front of mind,” in the words of Wayne Freeman, SHFL’s product director of EGMs for the region. “It’s the same as the development of Duo Fu Duo Cai,” he says. “We’re continuing on with that strategy and really focusing on Asia.”

It’s a strategy that envisions a steady rollout of new games to support Duo Fu Duo Cai. The newest, Diamond Eternity, willbe shown at G2E Asia alongside 88 Fortunes and 5 Treasures, the hearty performers that have contributed so much to the link’s success with the distinct volatility experiences they provide.

“We have more backup games coming that will support this link for the next couple of years,” says Mr Freeman. “We will always maintain a focus on Duo Fu Duo Cai to make sure it has longevity for all our customers.”

The same goes for the e-tables business, and operators from the Philippines to the Malay Peninsula to Indochina will be glad to hear it. Its importance for the combined company as a wedge into Macau also ensures that Bally will keep the investment in R&D flowing, especially now that the patent issues that hung over SHFL Fusion Hybrid, the live dealer multi-game, appear to have been cleared away in the Macau courts. The five-station virtual dealer TableMaster Fusion is ready for deployment in a new multi-game format that’s been graphically enhanced and includes a Chinese version of SHFL’s Ultimate Texas Hold’em dealt by a Mandarin-speaking dealer. (Ultimate Texas Hold’em also will be shown on SHFL’s i-Table along with the popular Three Card Poker.) Five new PTGs also will be shown. They include a fast-paced variant of Casino War called One for the Money; a variation on Caribbean Stud called Six Card Poker; Double Draw Poker, which features three rounds of ante betting in which players can throw back cards in each round to try to build the best possible hand; Fortune Asia Poker, which pits player against dealer for the best two out of three four-card hands; and Dragon Bonus Baccarat, which could well prove the star of the bunch: it’s an intriguing twist on the traditional game in which Banker bets are a push if the Banker hand wins with a threecard total of seven and winning Banker bets are not charged commission. It also comes in a commission-free version featuring a side bet called Fortune 7 that pays if Banker wins with a three-card total of seven. 

Utilities, a business that SHFL dominates just about everywhere in the world, are also getting a Macau focus with the debut of i-Score, a double-sided portrait-style table display for baccarat measuring nearly 61 centimeters and colorfully themed around dragons. 

Bally’s renown as a global leader in premium licensed games will be on full display with Titanic and Michael Jackson II, both available as wide- or local-area progressives.

 

Titanic, based on the blockbuster 1997 film, provides players with a cinema-quality package of video and sound powered by the V22/32 and a wealth of features for drawing them into the love story immortalized on the big screen by Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. There are four base-game mystery features and an array of bonus features that include a 3D tour of the doomed luxury liner and highlighted by Bally’s uniquely interactive U-Spin technology. Michael Jackson II is the sequel to the hugely successful Michael Jackson King of Pop and packs the same dazzling, musicfilled play enlivened with mystery wilds and free game bonus events that unfold to the superstar’s catalogue of hits. U-Spin features prominently as well, and the quality of the audio delivered by the Alpha 2’s Pro surround-sound chair is heart-pounding.

On the systems front, Bally continues to improve on its leadership in Asia and the world—global sales hit a record $91 million in the January-March quarter—with new modules and other refinements that allow its powerful suite of management and marketing tools to be scaled to fit any size operation. 

Fu Dao Le—colorful theming on the innovative Alpha 2 Pro Wave.

A love story for the ages—Titanic features an array of bonus games and cinema-quality sound and graphics.

On the slots side the company has studios on three continents designing and developing games specifically for Asia, led by a development team in India dedicated entirely to creating content for the region. The influence of the SHFL brain trust on key areas of this, on the math models especially, will ensure the pipeline will be diverse and compelling. 

The new i-Score’s bold portrait style format measures nearly 61 centimeters.

TableMaster Fusion now includes a Chinese version of Ultimate Texas Hold’em dealt by a Mandarin-speaking dealer.

 

It’s about driving all the aspects of the different parts of the industry that we now cover,” says Mr Jolly. “In the past, you looked at Bally, it was a great slot machine and systems company. Now they’re a slotmachine company with great games, and now also maths from SHFL, systems is expanding, i-gaming, they’re getting well and truly into that, both Internet and social, and then, of course, you’ve got multi-station table games, the utilities and the extensions of that. We’re across all markets.”

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