Slot machine makers are always coming up with new and exciting ways to keep players entertained. But this year, companies like Scientific Games and IGT have outdone themselves with something totally different: skill-based slots.
Skill-based slots ushering in a new generation of players
This recent push for skill-based slots all comes from a desire to reach a new segment of players: millennials. Many vendors and casino management alike feel like not enough is being done to reach this rapidly growing demographic. The hard numbers agree: according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, slot revenue still hasn’t gotten back to pre-2008 levels.
Of course, gaming companies around the world have already taken some steps to attract more millennials to the slots. “Orange is the New Black,” “The Big Bang Theory,” and “Family Guy,” TV shows that are popular with the 18-25 demographic, have already been adapted into some of the most popular slots on the casino floor.
Online casinos have also joined in this trend of reaching younger players. Many of the biggest recent releases, including Jurassic Park Slot and Game of Thrones Slot, were designed with millennials in mind. A growing number of online casinos are also experimenting with achievement-based promotions, similar to the achievements found in modern video games.
But with skill-based slots, vendors hope to be able to attract even more young gamers to the casino
But with skill-based slots, vendors hope to be able to attract even more young gamers to the casino. Prototypes have already been tested out at the G2E conference in Las Vegas. Two standout titles include a Texas Tea variant with a pinball feature and a game similar to Candy Crush – sort of like Sugar Pop but with an actual skill element involved. Other prototype slots put players’ speed, hand-eye coordination, and mental acumen to the test.
A new niche, not a revolution
When discussing the topic of skill-based slots, casino representatives are careful to emphasize the role they will play. There will always be a market for traditional slot machines; no one is expecting that to change.
“[Skill-based slots are] intended to be accretive to what is on the floors today,” a lawyer representing the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers stated. “It is not intended to cannibalize the existing market.”
Plenty of challenges ahead
Despite the technology being available, gaming manufacturers and casinos still have their work cut out for them before skill-based slots will be available.
"Manufacturers and operators are trying to determine the optimal mix of skill and randomness in game payouts," Wells Fargo gaming analyst Cameron McKnight stated. "Skill-based slot machines will take several years to develop." Getting the mathematics of the game to ensure a steady profit for the casino while still giving skilled players a comparatively better chance at winning won’t be easy, and this development process could be costly to vendors.
Despite these challenges, there’s no doubt that skill-based slot gaming is on the way
There is also a regulatory issue. Even in Nevada, where the gaming code was just updated to include skill-based slot games, developers must be careful to ensure that their games meet these new regulations. Thankfully this is less of an issue for online casinos where regulations are generally less strict.
Despite these challenges, there’s no doubt that skill-based slot gaming is on the way. Whether it will be a hit or miss is hard to say, but we bet it will become an important part of the market soon. We’ll be sure to keep you updated.