Japan’s Sega Sammy Creation is getting in early by developing slot titles that incorporate some elements of popular Japanese pachislot games.
As Japan continues to ponder the prospect of an integrated resort industry, Sega Sammy is working to bring creative EGM content to the world, installing the first “Virtua Fighter” video slot machine at Vietnam’s Macau Gaming Club in June. IAG spoke with Masaki Yamamoto, Vice President, Executive Officer and Managing Director of the Research and Development Division at Sega Sammy Creation – the casino sales company under Sega Sammy Holdings – and Hayato Sasaki, who serves as Director of Sales.
Shintaro Kamimura: How has Sega Sammy Creation been affected by COVID-19?
Hayato Sasaki: Due to so many casinos not accepting customers at this time, we haven’t been getting orders from casinos. Also, since governments in the world have been moving slowly [due to COVID-19], it caused delays in various projects. However, I think the same is true for all manufacturers.
SK: What was the reason for going with the “Virtua Fighter” slot motif this time?
Masaki Yamamoto: “Virtua Fighter” is the first 3D fighting game and has sold all over the world, so we thought it would be well-received all over the world. We started with about 3,000 title options, and this is one of the dozen or so that we narrowed it down to.
The target demographic for “Virtua Fighter” and “House of the Dead” is people in their 40s to 50s who actually played the games back in the day, and since they still have new series coming out, we hope it will also resonate with the younger generations.
SK: It really has the game aspects that you find in Japanese pachislot.
HS: It’s a 5-line game, but is made with amusement elements like pachislot. The casinos have actually come to us saying the free game portion is too long, and they’re worried it’s hurting their income. The next problem is finding the balance between the casino’s income and the pachislot-type amusement that even we want to play.
MY: But we aren’t giving up on this at all. We believe that this sort of gaming element is necessary to allow customers to enjoy casinos for long periods of time. We plan to incorporate both operator and user opinions to continue making improvements.
SK: Do you think pachislot-type gaming aspects will hit big once there are IRs in Japan?
HS: Yes. In that sense we really want to take the lead [in a Japanese IR]. Of course, other companies are developing products, but we are developing in Japan, so we don’t want to lose in a Japanese IR. Naturally we are also developing products with existing pachislot themes.
MY: There will be at most three IRs in Japan. Even if each location has 3,000 slot machines, that’s a total of 9,000. It’s a very small market. However, if certain machines become popular in Japan and customers leave with the impression that Japan has great game content, that’s an opportunity to expand sales to overseas markets. I think it will help give Japanese manufacturers strength. We’re adding aspects to meet the needs of the market and also things that we personally want to do.
SK: This is the idea of new CEO Scott Winzeler?
MY: That’s right. He always says, “Start with the core, then we can do what we want.” He started out in Japanese pachislot at IGT, so I think he understands that side of things very well, and his way of thinking is a really good reference.
SK: Can you tell us about your electronic table games?
HS: The “Maximum Fortune” series features baccarat, roulette and Sic Bo. You can even squeeze the baccarat cards with the “squeeze” button. In Sic Bo you can “squeeze” the dice with a button too. In roulette, there is a pachislot-type feature that gives prior notification of a win by the dragon ramp lighting up on the screen for certain hits.
SK: Most of your table games are released under the Genesis Slant cabinet and slots under the Genesis Star cabinet. We’ve heard there is very little need for repairs?
HS: The rate of breakdowns is extremely low. The maintenance company actually told us they need more to do. We are quite confident in our cabinet products after making tens of millions of pachinko, pachislot, amusement and consumer products. That is our biggest sales pitch.