Focus on AGS: AGS ups its game with first stepper cabinet, slot titles

April 16, 2024 8:00 AM
  • Mark Gruetze, CDC Gaming Reports
April 16, 2024 8:00 AM
  • Mark Gruetze, CDC Gaming Reports

Taking another stride toward becoming a top-tier slot supplier, game provider AGS is rolling out its first mechanical reel stepper machine.

While video slots dominate gaming floors, “The classics still have a significant place,” said Mark DeDeaux, senior vice president and general manager of slots. “As technology has evolved, it gives us the ability to continue to enhance the style of games in the mechanical reel space. You see that through different hardware configurations and game styles. Some of these game styles, ironically, are inspired by the video evolution.”

The AGS stepper is designed for high- and mid-denomination players and is housed in the company’s new Revel cabinet, which features classic touches such as bars and 7s on the reels plus modern accoutrements such as game-controlled LED reel lights, a 4K paytable display, and, of course, a spin button. AGS unveiled four nine-line stepper titles at the just-completed Indian Gaming Association Tradeshow and Convention. DeDeaux said the games are being tested at a handful of locations and will become widely available during the third quarter of this year.

He said AGS designed the multi-denomination steppers for use in high-limit rooms and the main casino floor. “We wanted to have a good balance of games for players who enjoy three- mechanical-reel games,” including features such as payline multipliers, nudge symbols, and “what you see is what you get” payouts based on the sequence of credit values across the reels.

The variety of styles is meant to expand the stepper’s appeal to a broad range of players.

DeDeaux said the stepper games and Revel cabinet are an example of the MAYA – for “most advanced, yet acceptable” – design philosophy developed by Raymond Loewy, considered the father of industrial design for work ranging from the shape of the Coca-Cola bottle to the interior layout of the Skylab space station to logos for Shell Oil, the U.S. Postal Service, and Greyhound.

“In this case, we’re taking advantage of modern technology that makes those products appeal to not just your classic players but also players who want something a little flashier. As we were building the games, we were focusing on features that are exciting for players.”

AGS, headquartered in Las Vegas, offers slots, table products, interactive gambling, and social casinos for tribal and commercial operators around the world. About four years ago, AGS began work on a strategy to raise its profile. While the three largest slot manufacturers lay claim to “a very significant percentage of the overall market,” DeDeaux said, “our goal is to build a diverse portfolio of products that we will launch us beyond that middle tier.” An early step toward that goal came in 2022 with the introduction of Spectra video slot cabinets, which routinely show up in the Eilers list of top core performers.

AGS already is a top supplier of Class 2 and HHR slots, so adding a mechanical stepper “helps us in managing our big overall footprint and provides value to our customers and players,” he said. “We want to make sure that we are focused on executing on what’s in front of us and ensuring that customers are trusting us every step of the way.”

AGS posted record earnings in 2023, ending the year with a 15 percent increase over 2022 and its 11th consecutive quarter of double-digit year-over-year revenue growth. Worldwide EGM sales, table products revenue, and interactive revenue all set company records.

“We have a fantastic momentum in our business overall, and we see that continuing,” DeDeaux said. “We’re still in the early innings. We’ve only launched the first three Spectra products, and we have three more coming this year. And then we have Revel. We’ve also focused on building game design teams that could support this growth. So, we’re just getting started.”