Slots suppliers say themed gaming areas on Asia’s casino floors the way of the future

Slots suppliers say themed gaming areas on Asia’s casino floors the way of the future
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Themed gaming zones will become increasingly elaborate over the next few years as suppliers and operators look to attract a new and younger generation of players to Asia’s casinos, according to representatives of leading slot machine manufacturers Light & Wonder and Aristocrat.

The issue of themed zones was raised by Light & Wonder’s Vice President and Managing Director, Asia, Ken Jolly, during a panel session about diversifying the customer base at last week’s G2E Asia conference, where he noted that although EGMs and slots have come a long way over the years in terms of graphics and features, there is an ongoing question about how to take player experience to the next level.

“This has been a debate in the industry for a long time: how do we get that younger generation in and how do we make them feel happy about gaming?” Jolly said. “And I think it will be getting more immersive, making sure the rooms provide a much better environment to play in.

“Over time you’re going to see areas develop within the casino that go beyond just machine layouts. There’s a few people in the industry talking about this – about how we go about moving to that sort of stage and theming areas.”

Light & Wonder was a forerunner in the themed gaming zone space with its highly successful Duo Fu Duo Cai zone at Galaxy Macau launched in 2016, while Aristocrat has enjoyed great success in the Australian market and beyond by theming zones around its Lightning Link and Dragon Link titles.

However, Jolly said this is just the start.

“Imagine a room where you’ve got digital walls and activity going on and stuff happening around the room – lots of lighting, thunderbolts and stuff when you win a jackpot – that’s probably where we’re going to head,” he prophesized.

Lloyd Robson, General Manager, Asia for Aristocrat Gaming, said his company is now starting to study how other industries leverage their retail spaces to appeal to their audiences.

“We’re really focused on bringing that retailing concept to the casino floor to package up and zone up,” he said. “That means really looking at other industries, what does the FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) space do, how can we learn from what the pharmaceutical space does? What does the supermarket do and how can we apply learnings from best in class zoning, retailing, theming and then bring that to the casino floor to do something very different?

“How do you create that point of difference around that retailing packaging. They are some of the things we’re starting to think about. And this is all really about player engagement.”

While themed gaming zones have proved less successful in the Philippines, Robson says they continue to work in places like Macau because players are looking for a unique experience.

“When you understand the player that comes to Macau and what their average length of stay is, usually just 1.3 to 1.5 days, that means they’re in and they’re out. And when you create that destination and that retail experience for them to come to, they find it,” he explained.

“How many times do we walk past multiple restaurants and there’s a queue so deep for one of them while everything else is empty? It’s because they’ve seen or heard about it by word of mouth back in China and they’ve got to go there, whereas in the Philippines it’s much more of a locals market where they visit a few times a week and they know where their game is on the floor.”

Says Jolly, “It’s about giving them that atmosphere. Obviously there has been a lot of talk over the years about the younger generation player coming into the casinos, so we’ve got to put maybe a bit more signage at the start of it and then banking machines or grouping particular families of machines together.

“We’ve got to get more immersive in our venues to make younger players feel comfortable to come in and take part in it.”