IAG November 2014 - page 6

Whilemost of thebignameswereplaying the region’semergingmachine
gamingmarkets from thesidelines, adeterminedgroupof nichesuppliers,
most of them locallybased, steppedup to fill thebreach. Lesser-known,
perhaps, but just ascreative, inmanywaysmorenimble, andcertainly
aggressive, today, they’re takingmore floor share thanever
ongbefore theChinese cameflooding into
Macau toexplode thefiction that Chinesedon’t
play slotmachines, Asiansweredropping coins
and spinning reelswithall theavidityof their
neighbors in far-offAustraliaand theAmericas.
Thebigmultinationalmanufacturerswere slow
to catchon to this. But that’s a facile statement
tomake from the vantageof hindsight. Think
backbefore SingaporeopenedupandMacau’smassmarket took
off, to the logistical obstacles the regionposed, the fact that little
was known in theWest about theplayers andoperators andhow
difficult itwas to sell aboardof directors inLasVegas on the
investment required tofindout. Thesewere, after all, tinymarkets
compared to the slot hangars theywere selling into in theUS, and
largelyopaque, at least byWestern standards, anddaunting froma
Oneeffect of this—thegreatest effect, really, theone that came
todefineEast and Southeast Asiaas the richand sophisticated
and intensely competitivemachinegamingmarkets theyare
today—was theopportunity this presented toahandful of game
developers thatwerebased in the regionand spoke the languages
and knew the culturesmoreor less first-hand.Moreover, theyaren’t
hobbledby towering corporate structures anda lot of demanding
Wall Street investors andanalysts. They’re small companies,
relatively speaking, or certainly theywere, withnothing like the
capital resources of themultinationals, but then theydon’t have
to sell thousands ofmachines either to justify their stockprices.
This freed them to innovateandarmedwithprecisely targeted
products tomoveaggressivelybeginningadecadeor soback into
jurisdictionswheremost of thebignameswere reluctant at the
time to tread.
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