Focus on Aristocrat: Dragon Link fires up popularity with million-dollar jackpots

March 24, 2023 8:00 AM
  • CDC Gaming Reports
March 24, 2023 8:00 AM

Pay a million-dollar jackpot here and a million-dollar jackpot there, and pretty soon you’re talking about a really popular slot machine.

That’s the story of Aristocrat Gaming’s new Dragon CashLink games, a line of mid- and high-denomination standalone progressives. The games have paid out numerous massive cash jackpots throughout the country since the million-dollar models were introduced in June 2021 at Hard Rock casinos in Tampa and Hollywood, Fla. The Seminole Tribe of Florida, operator of Hard Rock and the first to offer the seven-figure prize on Dragon Link, already has paid 15 such jackpots, said Kurt Gissane, senior vice president of sales for Aristocrat Gaming.

Kurt Gissane

“Mid- and high-denomination Dragon Link was developed out of requests from operators and players alike,” he said. After the 2017 debut of Aristocrat’s original Dragon Link game, which offers a linked progressive jackpot, customers expressed a desire for a standalone game offering an impactful payout and a range of mid- and high-denomination bets.

“Thanks to the success of the high-denomination games located in high-limit rooms, we’re also seeing additional successes in the mid-denom products that are being installed adjacent to these high-limit rooms, offering scaled-up jackpot levels,” Gissane said.

He said the games reflect a “huge shift” because mechanical-reel slots have historically dominated North American high-limit rooms. “This new-found demand shows that our higher volatility penny-style math models in higher denominations are resonating with players,” Gissane added, noting that operators can configure the games to suit their maximum liability, which can range from $25,000 to $500,000.

Working with the Hard Rock on the $1 million Dragon Link option is an example of how Aristocrat builds on suggestions from operators and players, Gissane said. “We regularly talk to our casino partners.

We conduct customer business reviews often,” he said. “We also host a customer advisory forum, where we ask thoughts and opinions on products in early stages of development.” Trade shows such as the Global Gaming Expo and Indian Gaming Tradeshow and Convention offer another opportunity to display concepts in the “innovation phase” and solicit ideas for what customers would like to see.

Aristocrat plans a large presence at the IGA conference from March 27-30 at the San Diego (Calif.) Convention Center. At October’s G2E, Aristocrat’s booth spotlighted new games with a pledge they would be ready for sale by June. “That is on track, and at IGA, operators will be able to purchase immediately or shortly after the show,” Gissane said.

Highlights for this year’s IGA include Buffalo Strike on the new MarsX Flex cabinet; the Wonder 4 Collection four-game collection and Buffalo Gold Wheels of Reward Revolution on the Neptune Single; and Mo’ Money on the MarsX dual screen cabinet. Class II slots will include the debut of Money Dragon Drop–Blue Skies and Money Dragon Drop–Purple Dawn, which are new versions of the popular Class III game Big Fu Cash Dragons, plus two recently added titles in the “Hunt” line: Hunt for Neptune’s Gold on the Relm XL five-reel cabinet and Hunt for Aztec Riches on the MarsX Portrait.

Gissane said the IGA display also will spotlight the company’s Bartop cabinet, now in its third software version. The Winner’s World multigame package for the cabinet provides classic video poker and video keno plus popular Aristocrat slot titles, including Buffalo and Buffalo Gold, and single- and four-card Buffalo and Captain Coins keno.