Coming of Age
Weike has successfully broadened its international horizons through a patient and carefully executed expansion strategySunday, 01 May 2011
Singapore-based Weike Gaming Technology was named ‘Best Asian Supplier’ in Inside Asian Gaming’s Supplier Awards 2011 for good reason. Weike was established in 1998. In the first decade of its existence it built a solid business supplying slots, electronic table games, progressive jackpot link and gaming management systems to gaming venues in Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and the Philippines. From 2008, Weike sought to move beyond its erstwhile regional focus and has made strong international strides.
The first move in Weike’s campaign to widen its reach was to bolster its game development team. Andrew Masen joined Weike as head of game development in late 2008. His previous six-year post had been as Game Design Manager for Stargames (which was acquired by Shuffle Master in 2006). Led by Mr Masen, Weike’s development teams have been rolling out new games with world-class maths and graphics, with The Brotherhood, Phoenix Dance and Dragon Legend among the latest releases. Mr Masen—who cut his teeth helping establish Stargames as one of the leading slot suppliers into the highly competitive Australian market—was recently promoted to the position of Vice President, Slots Gaming at Weike.
Weike chose the red-hot Macau market as the initial target of its geographic expansion. Slot players in Macau are known for their reluctance to try new games, largely because of their fierce loyalty to the old games. This in turn makes casino operators reluctant to give new manufacturers a chance on the floor. “We knew we needed an especially focused sales effort to break into Macau, and in March last year, we appointed Gus Noble our new sales and marketing agent for Macau,” comments Weike Gaming Technology Vice President for Product Strategy Chow Chee Keong.
It certainly helps that Weike’s subsidiary Weike (G) Management Macau Ltd, which has taken over the operation of around 400 slot machines at two venues on the Macau Peninsula, has placed a high proportion of Weike machines on the floors it operates, creating showcases for Weike in Macau. “Importantly, those machines are performing very well against the established games in the market,” claims Mr Chow. “Weike (G) took over its second Macau operation in December 2010, and almost as soon as it assumed control, there was a marked increase in average win per machine.”
As Weike proves its games can perform in the Macau market, its machines will make their way to the bigger casinos. “Several Weike games are among the top performing slots at Singapore’s IRs, even though the floors contain a wide mixture of games from the major manufacturers,” points out Mr Chow.
The 15th May opening of the Galaxy
Macau megaresort on Cotai will see a bank of 16 Weike ‘Winner Takes All’ slots go live on the casino floor. ‘Winner Takes All’ is an innovative slot tournament concept, where rather than playing against the machine or the house, in the tournament mode players can play against other players. Unlike some other slot tournament products that are often only switched on to hold tournaments, ‘Winner Takes All’ is a multi-use package that stays on 24/7. Weike is also able to theme the tournament to a particular casino site.
All systems go
Gus Noble is a particularly appropriate hire to lead Weike’s Macau sales effort because he has special expertise and experience in the systems area, and Weike is currently the only supplier in Asia with approved fully operational wide area gaming management systems and jackpot links. Weike systems and links are approved to GLI 12 and GLI 13 standards and are in operation in Macau, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and Singapore.
Weike’s showcase wide area network connects five Singapore sites run by NTUC Club, the city-state’s largest slot club operating group. That network has been running live without a glitch since 1st December 2009. Several more club groups have since been linked up with the Weike wide area systems and links. Singapore’s slot clubs, which are limited to a maximum 40 machines per venue, have seen revenues plunge following the recent opening of the sprawling integrated resorts, Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands. The clubs using Weike systems have fared much better than those without.
Meeting tough requirements
Even before the arrival of the IRs, Weike had already established a loyal following among Singapore slot club players. In order to supply machines to the IRs—Weike games can be found at both RWS and MBS—the company had to submit to rigorous background checks on its management and business structure. That allowed it to be approved as a supplier of gaming equipment by Singapore’s fastidious Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA).
“The CRA’s standards are so high that being named an approved manufacturer is a real endorsement of Weike’s technical capability and the company’s probity,” says Mr Chow.
Weike will unveil its new Infinity X cabinet boasting two super bright, high-resolution 22” LCD displays—on the top box as well as the main screen—at next month’s Global Gaming Expo Asia (G2E Asia) at Venetian Macao on 8th–9th June. Also on display at Weike’s booth will be its market-proven ‘METG’ multi-player electronic table games and systems products.
Weike’s slimline Infinity X cabinet is only 460mm deep, yet enhances player comfort—it has a cushioned ergonomic hand rest and button panel. Also with an upgraded sound system and a more contemporary look, the Infinity X offers Weike a slick vehicle to bring the great games it has been busy developing to new players in Macau and beyond.