Global gaming giant International Game Technology (IGT) is looking to stake a claim in the Macau market by filling the largely under-utilized standalone slot machine space, according to the company’s Sales Director for Asia, Michael Cheers.
Speaking with Inside Asian Gaming about IGT’s push to gain Macau market share in the slots segment – an area in which it has traditionally enjoyed only minimal presence – Cheers said that customer feedback garnered from the recent MGS Entertainment Show earlier this month suggested IGT was on the right track in bringing “engaging” new products to the local market. In particular, he pointed to standalone machines rather than the traditionally successful progressive links as a segment in which Macau has room for improvement.
“There has been a recognition from our operators that an area of the floor that probably hasn’t been attended to so well, maybe now with some new games that IGT has got it could be re-looked at – and that’s just our standard core offering,” Cheers said.
“The market has been very highly linked and we want to play in that space too, but we think that with games like ‘Fortune Rooster’, ‘Ocean Magic Grand’, ‘Golden Egypt Grand’ and ‘Legend of the Lion’ which we have shown at MGS, with the feedback we’ve got it shows us we are on the right track to provide a good core offering across the board. That’s very, very positive for us.
“Our goal for 2019 is to continue to innovate, don’t be scared to continue to engage with our customers and take risks with our newer style product until we find the ingredients, but also from our perspective to have a space in the link market while being very mindful that we can play a big role in the standalone product market.”
It was 12 months ago that IGT first outlined its Macau ambitions following a reimagining of the business – primarily via the appointment of a Managing Director for each of the company’s key regions across the globe.
In Asia-Pacific the man to step into that role was Andrew Hely, who told IAG at the time that, “We still think that we’re under-represented in this market in Macau and that this is the opportunity for us in terms of what we can do with that.
“There has been a lot of talk about market-attuned products in recent years,” Hely said. “One thing we’ve focused on doing is to move away from just skinning a US game with some Asian themes or graphics and trying to get to the core of the game and making sure that we’ve got a math model that is attuned to the particular marketplace. Once we get that right we can ensure everything else is culturally attuned around that in terms of theming and graphics. It’s a combination of things that we think are going to work better than in the past.”
Asked about the progress of those plans one year on, Cheers said, “Definitely, we talked the talk 12 months ago and now it’s time to walk the walk.
“We’ve had to earn our stripes but it’s really pleasing to see that we’ve been able to achieve that and our products have been accepted by our customers under a trial situation and now they are looking to expand with other offerings we have in that space. I think that’s a good sign that the customers are voting with confidence and looking to add more product.”
Cheers said IGT had worked hard over the past 12 months to develop products more attuned to the Macau market.
“I think it’s fair to say that you want something that grabs a player very early,” he said. “We do need to have the look and the feel of the cabinet to be of quality because the Macau player is looking for a quality gambling experience. They’re not here for an extended time period, they are here for 24 hours or 36 hours at the most and they want that genuine risk versus reward game.
“That’s something we’ve put a lot of effort into. ‘Fortune Rooster’ is a great example – it went back to the studio three times before we released it because we thought it had all the right ingredients but we just hadn’t finished the cake properly.
“That’s a great example of a game that we think is a great standalone product for Macau and it does bank nicely so you can have a nice bank of three on one side and complement that with ‘Ocean Grand Magic’ on the other. All of a sudden you’ve gone from having no IGT machines on that part of the floor to having six.”