Focus on IGT: Listening to players leads to better performance by IGT core slots

May 3, 2024 8:00 AM
  • Mark Gruetze, CDC Gaming Reports
May 3, 2024 8:00 AM
  • Mark Gruetze, CDC Gaming Reports

Slot players had a key role in adding the extra “spice” that’s catapulting two recently released IGT core titles to superstar status, Roger Pettersson says.

The company’s standard practice before finalizing a new game includes testing by multiple player focus groups at various North American casino partners, explained Pettersson, IGT’s vice president for Core, PMM, and Market Research. “We get great feedback about what they really like about the game or if something potentially is not so well-liked,” he said. “It’s a good process for us to flesh out a game before we bring it to market.”

After adjustments based on the focus groups’ feedback are completed, a new game undergoes more customer testing. “Both in core video and in premium MLP, we put the games out in the market with partner casinos throughout the U.S. and Canada,” he said. “We test the games for a three-month period to see what their performance is and to make sure it’s up to our expectations and to our customers’ expectations. When we release a game, it’s a proven performer and (operators) know what to expect when they put it on the floor.”

The process, begun by IGT’s core segment, paid off especially well for Magic Treasures, which was released in fall 2023 and ranks No. 2 among core titles on the most recent Eiler’s list of top performers. Players in the focus groups liked its overall play and new progressive feature called Moneyball, Pettersson said, but they wanted more bonus rounds and the potential for bigger wins.

“After focus testing, we made quite a bit of adjustment to the math of the game and just the overall play experience that I felt instantly added appeal after the changes were made,” he continued. “The game was good before; with the changes, it became a phenomenal experience.”

Another top IGT core title is Rising Rockets, released in January and immediately ranking among the top three performers in monthly Eiler’s reports.

“The magic behind these games is the variety they bring. You have big win potential and (bonus round) frequency at the same time,” Pettersson said.

Both games are multi-denom, from a penny to a dime, with Magic Treasures having a maximum bet of 400 credits and Rising Rockets, 528 credits. Each is a three-pot feature game, and Pettersson said both attract play on the main gaming floor and in high-limit rooms.

Magic Treasures, currently available in two titles, offers three types of bonuses: Money Ball, jackpot, and free games. Players collect money balls during gameplay, and the value of each is revealed during the Money Ball Bonus, triggered by a symbol landing on the third reel. He said Moneyball is a new mechanic in which the money balls bounce out of the pot during a bonus feature and land on the reels. A multiplier can add up to five times the face value of a ball.

Rising Rockets, available in Emperor and Empress titles, offers three lock-and-respin bonuses and the possibility of multiple jackpots during a bonus round.

Magic Treasures and Rising Rockets are housed in IGT’s PeakCurve 49 cabinet, which Pettersson said has “fantastic curb appeal” to players. “It really brings our games to that next level from a visual standpoint,” he said. “It’s a super-comfortable cabinet to sit in front of, both from the angle of the screen and the overall graphics of the games.”

Pettersson said slot players want games with a “high level of polish” and a design that mixes new features with ones they’re accustomed to. “They respond to games with more bonus features, more game variety, more play variety, and higher feature frequency. But they’re also looking for something that’s familiar.

“Our market-centric approach to game design is really paying off with players,” he added. “Customers are seeing it and feeling it.”