Focus on IGT: Elevating the ETG experience with the MESA 4K terminal

September 12, 2023 8:00 AM
  • Buck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports
September 12, 2023 8:00 AM
  • Buck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports

IGT has overhauled its Electronic Table Games (ETG) solutions portfolio and the company’s product evolutions will be unveiled in October at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas.

With the largest booth at G2E, IGT leverages the annual global trade show as a platform to demonstrate the strength of its portfolio across all of its product verticals.

One of the many highlights this year will be its recently enhanced ETG portfolio that will be anchored by the company’s all-new MESA 4K gaming terminal.

It features a 27-inch 4K display and ergonomic design backed by extensive player and operator focus testing, according to Luigi Cacciapuoti, IGT vice president, specialty product and ETG. It runs new, best-in-class software that delivers remarkable user experiences and seamlessly runs IGT’s vast ETG game and side bet library and will elevate the ETG experience for operators and players alike, he added.

IGT found in talking with players and operators that they wanted an ETG that allows players to play more than one table at the same time, Cacciapuoti said.

“Our offering was more traditional: one terminal, one game and one table,” he explained. “We changed all of that so that now the games that we are showcasing at G2E allow players to choose from a wide combination of games. They can play up to four tables at the same time on the screen and mix and match with roulette, baccarat, and blackjack. The player has full flexibility on how they want to play, and we’re integrating both full-virtual games and dealer-assisted games. The operator can switch from one to the other seamlessly.”

The new iteration emphasizes the hybrid option because, for example, maybe on a Saturday night an operator may need a variety of live dealers, but on a Tuesday afternoon that same operator may prefer virtual tables because there’s not enough demand to justify the cost of the dealer.

Operators have been pushing for a hybrid system, especially after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic when many casinos had problems with staffing to meet demand, Cacciapuoti said.

“For casinos, 2021 and 2022 were record years with lots of people in casinos but without the same level of labor that they had pre-COVID,” he said. “Hybrid ETGs were one of the main requests from the casinos because they could not justify the cost of having a dealer 24-7.”

As for the player experience, Cacciapuoti said they interviewed about 300 players and let them play IGT’s new MESA 4K solution and benchmarked feedback against competitors’ products. They spoke with players who liked IGT products and those who liked the competitors.

“The idea of having more than one table at the same time was really powerful for them,” Cacciapuoti shared. “For instance, with roulette you place your bet and there’s some dead time waiting for the ball to spin and stop. This ‘dead time’ creates a great opportunity because if you have two different wheels that you can play at the same time, you can bet on one and while the first one is spinning you can bet on the second.”

Different markets have different tastes. European players prefer to work on three wheels at once. On the East Coast, there are a lot of players who like to play roulette using one wheel, he said. The West Coast has more interest in baccarat.

Running all of the games on the same terminal at the same time is quite the change from the past when players had to choose if they wanted live dealers or virtually-assisted games. “Now we put everything together at the same time, which is great,” said Cacciapuoti.

“In order to allow all of this flexibility, we’ve significantly upgraded our hardware with the MESA 4K,” he continued. “I believe this gives us a bit of an edge because no one else in North America is offering such an experience, and I think players will like it.”

IGT’s latest ETG offering today is highly configurable and allows shaping offerings through connectors between terminals. If operators want to start small and add more units, it can be done without bringing in new merchandising. IGT is using bigger screens.

“We are giving customers more flexibility,” Cacciapuoti said. “We realized there’s a lot of flexibility in the players’ demands, and we wanted to make sure our offering can be adapted to their evolving needs without the need to routinely order and make changes, which is time consuming and expensive. We want to position our customers to put together their ETG offerings as they prefer, the shortest time possible.”

As for the new cabinet, that was driven by player feedback, Cacciapuoti reported. There are others who offer the same table setup but players had concerns that they couldn’t read all the detail on the displays, especially if they were playing four tables at the same time for roulette.

“With the MESA 4K, IGT increased the number of outcomes that we can show,” he said. “Instead of 50 outcomes, we moved to roughly 200 outcomes – a lot of experienced players like to make their bet based on the statistics. There are players who play the hot numbers and those who play the cold numbers. If you add more statistics on the screen, they need to be readable and easy to interact with. We found that wasn’t the case in the average offering in the market and full HD resolution was not enough. That’s why we went with bigger and better resolution and tested all of those features. I think it’s a great achievement. It’s something remarkable.”

Cacciapuoti said some of the feedback they received was related to partial visibility of the roulette wheel. On existing products in the market, only about 30% to 35% of the numbers were visible at the same time.

IGT designed its new MESA 4K ETG terminal to provide maximum visibility, making  about 70% of the wheel visible at all times

“That is a significant attribute of the MESA 4K cabinet because that’s what the players like,” Cacciapuoti said. “They want to follow the wheel through the game, and if they cannot, they lose a bit of the entertainment value. We doubled the amount of usable display real estate and IGT’s solution is among the very best in the market as I believe the average is 50% to 60% wheel visibility. We are the new benchmark in the market in terms of visibility.”