With COVID-19 disrupting the debut and release plans of suppliers across the globe, IGT took the opportunity to showcase its latest products to its Macau customers via a series of IGT Mini Shows.
The borders may have been closed, but that hasn’t stopped IGT from finding new avenues through which to showcase its products to customers across Asia.
With G2E Asia among a number of local trade events to have been postponed until the latter half of 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the global gaming developer recently hosted a series of IGT Mini Shows in the IGT Asia showroom for its Macau-based clients, inviting 10 groups over the course of one May week to view the company’s latest product range.
“There are no trade shows at their normal times this year so we wanted to take the opportunity to show our customers our continued commitment to the development and release of product for the Macau region and to show them the release plan for games for the balance of 2020,” explained IGT’s Sales Director – Asia, Michael Cheers.
“We also wanted to show them the next game in the Ying Cai Shen link series because before we went into the COVID shutdown, Ying Cai Shen was our strongest performer across the region and doing some very good numbers in Macau, the Philippines and Malaysia.
“Finally, we wanted to show our customers that we will continue to be there to support them as they come out of the COVID experience and that we are open for business and as flexible as we can realistically be, given they will likely have restricted budgets and short-term cash flow challenges.
“We have put the ‘Open for business’ and ‘Let’s talk’ signs out.”
The opportunity to present to all major Macau clients served a variety of purposes, says Cheers, given the company had previously planned to debut multiple products at G2E Asia in May. As well as mapping out the revised 2020 release plan, IGT’s Mini Shows also allowed it to offer a sneak peak of a brand new game concept currently in development.
“It’s a new concept, a new style of game, and we took their feedback which will now be shared with the studios and design teams as we move forward with a very new and innovative concept for the region,” Cheers offers. “It was a good opportunity in quiet surroundings to get that feedback from our customers.”
Likewise, IGT has taken the opportunity presented by COVID-19 to to innovate and add new contactless functionality within its ADVANTAGE gaming management system. Mobile Responder was originally designed as a module to improve customer service and technical support functionality, but has now been adapted to quickly inform staff when a slot machine is ready for sanitization.
“It will allow floor attendants and or sanitization attendants to immediately be informed when a machine is carded out or cashed out so they can be there quickly to sanitize the machine and ensure the safety of their players,” Cheers explains.
“It’s very applicable in this COVID-19 environment to add that function of sanitization and keeping machines wiped down. We believe it will help players feel safe in the casino environment if they can see this rapid cleaning being actively performed – they are more likely to view that venue as a safe place to play once properties across Asia start opening up again.”
Cheers notes that the onset of COVID-19 and subsequent restrictions on travel and business operations has prompted thinking outside the box, such as linking customers based outside Macau to a digital showroom in which they can access full product data and video, including demonstrations of games or systems functionality.
As for the rest of 2020, “COVID has certainly pushed some of our product release timeframes but we are fortunate, in particular in Macau, that our product plan is so forward looking that it hasn’t affected our total pipeline for 2020,” says Cheers. “While it may have a short-term impact in the early stages of 2021 we believe we can pick that up later in 2021.
“COVID-19 came while we were riding a successful wave and looking to continue that through 2020, but one thing I have said to our team is that there will always be another wave. As long as we are performing well we will soon get back to those levels again.”