The Global Gaming Expo (G2E) is an annual industry gathering organized by the American Gaming Association (AGA). The 23rd year of the Las Vegas event saw 25,000 people on hand to explore new casino products and discuss the industry with each other.
Discussions focused on trends the gaming industry is seeing, from economic trends to casino floors. Some of the games on the expo floor were prototypes, brand new, or featured new themes and features on different cabinets.
The discussions and games are forward-looking while catering to the current marketplace. While that sounds like a conflict, this is how the gaming industry has to operate.
Casino operators need to keep current customers happy while preparing for new future guests and players. There’s always a constant push and pull to offer what guests want today and tomorrow.
Here are some trends and interesting things we saw and heard during the four-day gaming industry gathering.
Updates to the popular Buffalo slot game, six new versions coming
Buffalo remains one of the most popular slot machine themes in casinos today. The company behind the game, Aristocrat, sees the popularity continuing and has new Buffalo slot machines hitting casinos over the next year.
There are no less than six new versions of Buffalo coming to casinos. Visitors may notice a new game like Buffalo Ultimate Stampede in casinos today.
Many new Buffalo slot machines will feature popular mechanics and cabinets that Aristocrat uses for other games.
Along the same lines, Aristocrat will offer its popular Dollar Storm games with new themes and cabinets.
Omnichannel is a hot topic
Omnichannel has been a buzzword in the casino industry for a few years. This means gaming operators desire to offer players a way to seamlessly enjoy games no matter what platform they use.
The goal for the companies is to provide a similarly fun experience in all three. Depending on the game, casino, and location, there could be 50% or more overlap between the three areas.
One company that is an example of that is Aristocrat. The company also owns Anaxi, which offers online casino games from Aristocrat like Buffalo.
Step aside Hold N Spin, triple metamorphic slots are coming on strong
Hold N Spin link games have been one of the most popular slot machine gaming mechanics since the debut of Lightning Link in 2015. Until recently, it’s been nearly impossible to find a slot machine without this feature.
Over the past few years, the triple metamorphic feature has grown in popularity.
This is the gaming mechanic where players collect coins or symbols that go into a pot, bag, or something similar. When the pot or bag fills up the player unlocks one of three bonus rounds.
While Hold N Spin remains popular, many players enjoy games with a triple metamorphic feature. Just about every slot machine manufacturer is using this mechanic on new and old themes.
Gaming manufacturers are watching you closely
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that gaming manufacturers are watching players. After all, it’s the job to create games people will play.
The companies use research from all forms of games to offer the most popular features. This goes back to the omnichannel focus. They see what players enjoy most in social games, land-based and online casinos.
It’s interesting to note that some unique social casinos are a relatively inexpensive and quick way for manufacturers to test new ideas.
The research is more specific than anyone might consider. Players like certain themes like dragons. They prefer seeing colors like purple and red than others.
Gaming manufacturers use this research to offer players the experiences they prefer in all three gaming spaces. None of this should be too surprising in 2023, but it’s interesting to understand the thinking behind where certain games and features come from.
Branded slot machines aren’t entirely dead
Five years ago, it seemed as though every slot machine had a theme from a TV show, movie, or musician. That slowed during the COVID-19 pandemic when gaming manufacturers were cutting expenses.
It costs a pretty penny to license brands like “Family Guy” or “Sex In The City”. Many slot machines over the past few years have been outfitted with generic or original themes. I’m grateful for every new slot machine with a panda theme.
This year Light And Wonder debuted the “Squid Game” slot machine at G2E. The company says there will be more Netflix-themed games coming in the future. Unfortunately, the company didn’t reveal any specific titles.
After teasing NFL slot machines last year, Aristocrat finally debuted its entire lineup. NFL slot machines were among the most popular themes at G2E this year.
IGT showed off a Whitney Houston slot machine that uses similar mechanics to other games from the manufacturer.
There weren’t many more big brand names featured at G2E. Manufacturers are currently focusing their finances on proprietary themes.
For example, right next to the massive Whitney Houston display were titles like a new version of the popular Mystery of the Lamp slot machine. The new features in this game are great and will hit casinos next year.
More casino operators investing in non-gaming amenities
Non-gaming revenue has been the top money maker for Vegas Strip casinos for more than two decades. Last year, gaming only accounted for 37.2% of total revenue for these casinos, according to UNLV’s research on gaming trends.
The amount of money spent on non-gaming amenities isn’t quite as high at casinos located elsewhere. Even off-strip and downtown Las Vegas casinos have a lower percentage of revenue derived from non-gaming areas in the casino.
This is changing as casinos around the country are upgrading everything from restaurants to spas. Regional casino guests should see the changes slowly but they are happening as operators want to diversify their revenue.
Get used to cyberattacks
The recent cyberattacks on Caesars and MGM Resorts have casino operators on their toes. Chances are good that there will be more cyberattacks on these companies, other casino operators and gaming manufacturers.
When hackers find a way into a couple of companies in a specific industry they often attempt to gain access to others. Regardless of how much time and money the companies put into cybersecurity, there are always people looking to break into those systems.
The gaming industry isn’t alone in this. Hackers have been attacking retailers, hospitality companies, and others for years.
Cyberattacks will continue across all industries.
Robot slot machines are coming
Apex Gaming had this moving slot machine on display at its booth during G2E. I was in a rush walking to a meeting and saw this out of the corner of my eye.
Unfortunately, there was nobody nearby to explain the concept behind this slot machine. I was able to escape from the robot slot machine and make it to my meeting.
PlayUSA will keep you posted if anything is interesting to report about this game.