Gamblit announced this week it has struck a deal with legendary video game developer Bandai Namco Entertainment. The two will launch a “one-of-a-kind casino experience” called Pac-Man Battle Casino next year. That’s right, a real-money skill-based gambling version of the iconic arcade game Pac-Man is headed to casinos.
The original Pac-Man
The original Pac-Man is one of the most popular video games of all time. Namco first released it in 1980. Midway brought it to North America that same year.
Dozens of sequels have launched since, including the equally iconic Ms. Pac-Man. Plus, the game has been released for almost every home console and video game device ever invented. Yes, you can now play a version of Pac-Man on your iPhone too.
The original Pac-Man arcade game is one of the highest-grossing video games of all time. In fact, experts say the game pulled in more than $2.5 billion, one quarter at a time, through the 1980s and 1990s. The game created billions more in sales of related merchandise and game sequels. It became a social phenomenon.
Pac-Man has become so ingrained in American culture over the years that one of the original Pac-Man arcade games now sits in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. The Guinness Book of World Records also calls it the most successful coin-operated game in history.
Real-money and skill-based games
Up until now, real-money and skill-based gaming companies like Gamblit have trotted out some relatively innocuous titles that haven’t exactly taken the casino industry by storm.
Gamblit has its skill-game tables in Las Vegas, Nevada casinos including Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, MGM Grand Hotel & Casino, and Caesars Palace Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. There are also a few at other gambling venues around the country.
Its games include the naval warfare title Cannonbeard’s Treasure and multi-player card game Gamblit Poker. But they haven’t exactly drawn headline-grabbing numbers since they launched.
Fellow video game gambling machine developer GameCo launched a first-person shooter and a brand-free basketball game in Atlantic City, New Jersey casinos last year. It has since expanded to offer its games at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut.
It also has Terminator 2 and DJ Steve Aoki games in development, but has yet to launch any kind of game changer into the casino market.
GameCo did announce earlier this year that it had also partnered with Bandai Namco and planned to launch a casino version of the popular fighting game SoulCaliber II by the end of the year.
The ultimate litmus test
That should be a bit of a litmus test for GameCo. But for Gamblit and the entire real-money and skill-based gaming sector, Pac-Man sets up as an even bigger test.
Developers have been touting real-money and skill-based games as the next big draw for casinos for a while now. They’ve claimed video game-style slots will be what draws the next generation of gamblers into casinos.
But what if people don’t turn up in droves to play an enduringly popular game like Pac-Man? The question will have to be whether people will turn up for any skill-based casino games at all. The answer to that could leave real-money and skill-based games on the scrap heap. Then companies like Gamblit and GameCo will be out looking for something new to call the next big thing.