Focus on AGS: Top-performing Spectra line propels growth of ‘scrappy’ AGS

August 22, 2023 8:00 AM
Photo: CDC Gaming Reports
  • Mark Gruetze, CDC Gaming Reports
August 22, 2023 8:00 AM
  • Mark Gruetze, CDC Gaming Reports

Self-described “scrappy” gaming supplier AGS is on a roll.

Its Spectra UR43 cabinet, introduced late last year, has topped the Eilers & Krejcik Game Performance survey since January 2023; its workforce has increased by about a third since 2018, even with the pandemic; after growing from two game studios in 2019 to six today, its slot and table game portfolio attracts players and operators alike.

Even with those accomplishments, bigger goals await, said Mark DeDeaux, senior vice president and general manager of slots.

“Our vision is to be a top-tier slot provider,” he declared. While acknowledging its reputation as a “scrappy, innovative small company,” he said AGS is proving itself to be more than a name on the Eilers charts. “We’re equally, if not more, proud of the fact that casino operators and players appreciate what we’ve done with this new product line. Time and time again, we hear from casino operators that they see AGS doing a lot of great things.”

Likewise, the Spectra UR43 is more than a cabinet, because it houses a new operating platform that allows games to offer a host of features, functions, and animations not previously possible. The cabinet, an update of the company’s popular Orion Portrait, boasts a 43-inch monitor with 4K resolution, and a game library that is expected to have more than 30 titles by the end of the year. Games are available for Class 3, Class 2, and Historical Horse Racing jurisdictions.

DeDeaux said differentiating among slot cabinets throughout the industry is difficult because all manufacturers keep up with evolving consumer technology and offer comparable screen sizes and displays. “We really captured a great balance of form and function with the Spectra cabinet,” he said, pointing to its “robust” button deck with ample space for players’ cell phones, drinks, or other items. The deck also gives game designers the physical and digital room to build an advanced player interface. For operators, the cabinet’s back design allows easy setup and connectivity; security features include seven entry-recording intrusion switches.

“The Spectra platform has been the cornerstone of getting customer sentiment where it is,” DeDeaux said. Besides providing an enhanced sound package, “the engine under the hood is unlocking all of the talent we have within our game development studios. It’s a lot of horsepower for our game designers to build in great features.”

In addition to its slot portfolio, AGS offers table games including Criss Cross Poker, Bonus Spin Xtreme, and Buster Blackjack; equipment such as signage and automated shufflers; and social and igaming. The company adopted its three-letter name in 2014, after its predecessor, American Gaming Systems, was bought by private equity firm Apollo Global Management. AGS became publicly traded in 2018.

DeDeaux said another facet of the growth plan is building on the AGS library of scalable games, including River Dragons and Rakin’ Bacon. “We believe we can continue to build brand extensions to those games that we know resonate with players, adding in new gameplay mechanics and new themes built off popular trends in the market, and then obviously finding new and unique ways to innovate games as well.”

Although the Spectra cabinet has been on the market less than a year, strategizing for the product line began three years ago.

“AGS is at a very important phase of our evolution as a company,” DeDeaux said “Now we’re in the true growth phase. We have a whole family of products that we’re going to be launching in the Spectra portfolio that we’re excited about.” While not releasing details yet, he said the AGS booth at October’s Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas will include new Spectra games and cabinets.

DeDeaux said AGS has taken a “holistic approach” in its quest to evolve into a major supplier, adding resources, experience, and talent throughout the company.

Casino operators and players will decide whether the company’s efforts succeed. “They vote with their wallet,” he said. To him, the AGS plan is simple.

“We want to think and act like a major supplier but continue to be humble and innovative and entrepreneurial,” DeDeaux said. “We want to continue to be hungry.”