The lifespan of slot games has changed in the video slot age. Because the popularity of video games can peak and decline within a matter of months, casino operators who wanted to offer their customers the latest video slots had to spend a lot of time changing their machines one at a time. Further aggravating this process, most states required the presence of a gaming board agent when the evidence tape was broken, the old game chip taken out, a new chip put in and resealed in the evidence tape, and the machine closed and the paperwork done.
That’s changing with the advent of downloadable and server-based games. Nearly every major slot machine manufacturer showed server-based slot machines to the casino industry at the 2005 Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas. By the spring of 2006, such games were getting trials in Nevada and California.
With server-based systems, a game theme can change instantly. A dollar game can become a penny game. And it can be done with whole banks of machines at once, not just one machine at a time.
One slot manufacturer’s system shows a diagram of the casino floor. With a click and drag of a computer mouse, the operator can highlight the games to change. Then with the click of a mouse on a pull-down menu, he or she can select a new game theme, number of paylines, coin denomination, and payback percentage. Voila. New games.
Apply that to a bank of, say, 12 machines, and the effect is amazing. One minute, 12 nine-line nickel slots, the next minute, 12 twenty-line penny slots.
To some extent, it will allow operators to tailor their game offerings to player preference. More and more, casinos are using electronic data warehouses and analytical software to track who’s playing, and when. Combine that ability with server-based games, and a casino can change accordingly when it knows that it gets strong penny play during daylight hours but has people waiting for nickel games at night or that video players fill the games on weekdays while other players are crowding low-limit video slots on weekends.
Just as video slots and payoffs by bar-coded tickets have revolutionized the slot floor in the last decade, you can look for server-based games to give casinos another overhaul in the coming years. It won’t be long, and the process has already begun.