The leading slot suppliers in the industry have been meeting the challenge of the cancellation of Global Gaming Expo in a number of creative ways, from virtual presentations of their new games in video showrooms to Zoom and Microsoft Teams meetings with key customers.
The supply sector also will get a chance to show their new product lineups next week in the “G2E Virtual Experience,” in which Reed Exhibitions and the American Gaming Association will do their best to replicate the experience of the trade show—including virtual exhibits, keynote speeches, seminars and roundtable discussions—on the computer screens of operator clients still figuring out how to make a profit as the industry still deals with severely limited capacity.
But as slot suppliers know, there’s nothing like a face-to-face meeting to let customers know the benefits of a product lineup. To address this fact, some of the industry’s top slot suppliers are hitting the road to take their new product demonstrations directly to their customers.
One of those suppliers is Konami Gaming, which is in the midst of what it calls its “WINovation” traveling road show.
Thomas Jingoli, Konami’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, has been on the road with the WINovation trailer, a Winnebago Winnovation RV emblazoned with Konami’s logo and colors that has been crisscrossing the country since midsummer, parking at key customer locations and inviting clients from across each region for demonstrations of many of the company’s key slot and system offerings that would have been highlighted at G2E.
Last week, the WINovation trailer was in the porte-cochere of Atlantic City’s Ocean Casino Resort, where it parked for three days to host clients from around the Northeast. According to Jingoli, customers traveled from as far away as Pittsburgh, a six-and-a-half-hour drive, to sample the 16 key games on display inside the trailer, along with demonstrations of the company’s popular Synkros casino management system—which was linked to all the games on display.
“We’ve had close to 30 customers so far,” Jingoli told GGB News on the second day of the trailer’s Atlantic City residency. “We’re loaded here for three days.” To keep it safe, he says, the groups are kept small. “The most we’ve had in here is eight or nine customers, all from the same group. We do temperature checks, get them all in and out and get ready for the next group. Ocean really stepped up and gave us a good location. You can do demos, and you have an ocean view. You don’t get that too often.”
According to Jingoli, Konami had the WINovation trailer ready for traveling demos before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, so it was a no-brainer that it would become useful after all the trade shows began to cancel. “We started reaching out to customers, and the response has been really encouraging,” he said. “It’s worked out very well.”
Jingoli says demo sessions have lasted around 45 minutes, with 15 minutes between meetings to clean all surfaces on the games’ touchscreens, button panels—anything that has been touched by humans.
And the games? They are the key products in this year’s Konami lineup, including two new cabinets—the Dimension 49J, the premium lease cabinet featuring a 49-inch curved portrait monitor; and the Dimension 27, a versatile for-sale cabinet featuring three 27-inch monitors. The Dimension 27 can easily be switched from the three-monitor setup to a premium-style portrait setup by simply swapping out the three 4K monitors with a 43-inch portrait-style flat-screen monitor, which fits on the same base.
Prominent on the Dimension 49J was All Aboard, the inaugural title for the cabinet, featuring base games Dynamite Dash and Piggy Pennies. The main feature in All Aboard involves six scattered train symbols that transform into credit awards and remain in place for a hold-and-re-spin feature. “We’ve got about 120 of these games out right now, in about 20 locations,” Jingoli said. “They are performing great at every location we have—three times house average wherever we put it.”
On the Dimension 27 units were several classic Konami titles that have been adapted to the more modern format. Titles on display include Mayan Chief, China Shores and African Diamond.
“What we’re really trying to do is port players from our older cabinets to our new hardware,” commented Scott Freed, Konami’s vice president of sales for the Eastern Region. “And this how we can do it, with titles that resonate with those players. The Dimension 27 offers a really high level of quality, with three 27-inch 4K cinematic monitors, an interactive button deck, dual spin buttons, a USB port and a wireless charging pad. They also use our new platform, KXB, which runs on a faster processor, with more memory that allows us to do more with the game content.”
Account executives are able to do complete game demos on the trailer, and can also show the versatility of the new hardware—including how easy it is to transform the Dimension 27 cabinet into a premium-style form factor by swapping out the monitors.
The WINovation trailer was retrofitted with chambers that allow the slot bases to be secured in place while the trailer travels to different locations. Thus, breakdown and setup is easy, because games don’t have to be torn down and totally reassembled at each stop.
Along the trailer walls are computer screens linked to the Synkros system. “It’s hooked up to the games, so we can do brief demos on here for Synkros,” said Jingoli “We have everything in here we need, and the screens are all interactive. We can talk about the merchandising and product roadmap, and use interactive touchscreens to demonstrate Synkros.”
The trailer even has large outdoor video screens available for warm-climate stops, where the staff can put on events such as barbecues safely as they demonstrate the products.
The WINovation’s journey began last summer at the Morongo Casino outside of San Diego—the same location that hosted the launch of the Dimension 49J an the All Aboard game in March, just in time for the industry’s Covid-19 shutdown.
From there, it made its way up to Northern Nevada and across the country to Minnesota, Indiana, Chicago (another two-day-plus stop) and onto the East, where Atlantic City is making up for canceled stops in Ohio and Pittsburgh, as well as hosting Philadelphia-region customers. “Next, we’re heading down the East Coast,” Jingoli said. “We’ll be in Florida for a few days, hosting a lot of properties. We’ll be at the Seminole Classic Casino in Hollywood. After South Florida, we’ll have a private showing at the Hard Rock Tampa, and then we’ll be in New Orleans, for demos to Louisiana and Biloxi customers.”
In all, the WINovation trailer will stop at upwards of 25 locations up to the end of the current fiscal year in March, and executives will re-evaluate the game plan at that point.
“We’re really excited about our new product, and this is a way to get it out to the customer,” said Jingoli. “I equate it almost to pre-G2E demonstrations, which we started doing three or four years ago. G2E serves a purpose, but you can get lost in the madness. So, this is our version of a pre-G2E. Scott and his team have done a great job setting it up. (The format) is evolving, and we’re really excited about it.”