Are skill-based video game-style slots here to stay at casinos? Industry experts have their say

  • Gaming brands meet to discuss future of skill-based games
  • Number of skill-based games will ramp up in 2018

A panel of representatives from the casino industry’s best known developers met for a round-table on the future of skill-based gambling.

Terminator 2- Judgement Day skill-based casino game
Terminator 2- Judgement Day skill-based casino game by GameCo. Are video game gambling machines like this going to be part of the future of casinos?

As the casino showcase the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) wrapped up in Las Vegas for another year last week, many companies debuted new skill-based games, as game developers look to attract a younger audience and try to sustain casino engagement among millennials.

Such games bring in video game-like elements to traditional casino slot games, which are typically based purely on luck.

Gaming panel tackles big questions on skill games

Game developers, researchers and marketing leads met at G2E for a panel discussion on how skill-based gambling looks right now, and on what to expect in 2018 and beyond. The panel was hosted by journalist Howard Stutz, Golden Entertainment’s Director of Corporate Communications. Attendees included Steve Walther from Konami, GameCo CEO Blaine Graboyes, Gamblit marketing officer Darion Lowenstein and MGM Grand’s Steve Siriani.

Steve Aoki's Neon Dream takes players through a world of the DJ's music, offering a skill-based slot experience at the same time.
Steve Aoki’s Neon Dream takes players through a world of the DJ’s music, offering a skill-based slot experience at the same time. The game has a clear target demographic in mind.

Changing the shape of the gambling industry

Skill-based gaming, or “video game gambling” as GameCo’s Blaine Graboyes prefers, is starting to gain traction on casino floors and there is increasing interest around the games – despite a slow start.

The International Gaming Institute believes this shift has come as video games and gambling games start to converge. Gambling is becoming increasingly digitalized, claims the International Gaming Institute’s Brett Abarbanel, while gaming is undergoing a ‘gamblification’ process itself.

Gaming companies like Konami and Gamblit recognize that skill-based gaming is different to slot play, and must be approached cautiously.

WATCH: The expert panel talks on skill based casino gaming.

Both Lowenstein and Graboyes acknowledged during the panel event that skill games require regular testing to ensure the experience is just right, and that lessons are being learned along the way, making a large-scale rollout risky.

“We thought our games would be more successful in bars,” said Lowenstein. “That was completely wrong, and they are more successful on the gaming floor.”

Despite the cautious approach, skill games are starting to appear in a number of locations across the United States and around the world. Cruise ships, Vegas casinos and Oklahoma gaming venues are among some of the trial locations for skill based gaming, and the initial response from casinos and players has been positive.

However, the response has not yet been so overwhelming as to convince big casinos to go all-in on the concept. This particular segment of the industry is still in its infancy.

G2E showcase for new skill-based games

At the Las Vegas gaming event, Konami launched its rhythm based skill game Beat Square, a fast and lively game that requires the player to match squares on the beat of the music.

It borrows from popular titles like Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero, but adds a gambling twist – can you beat the high score and get a perfect beat to land a payout?

The company also had an upgraded version of Frogger: Get Hoppin’ and the brand new Crystal Cyclone on display at the conference.

Meanwhile, GameCo’s exhibit was a popular attraction during the conference thanks to celebrity visitor Steve Aoki, who collaborated with the developer on ‘infinite runner’ title Steve Aoki’s Neon Dream – one of the conference’s most talked about new releases.

The GameCo booth also had a preview of the hotly-anticipated Terminator 2: Judgement Day, a first-person action shooter based on the hit film which will hit casino floors early next year.

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