Focus on Light & Wonder: New large-screen HORIZON cabinet makes an impact on the casino floor

April 23, 2024 8:00 AM
  • Mark Keast, CDC Gaming Reports
April 23, 2024 8:00 AM
  • Mark Keast, CDC Gaming Reports

If the name of the game on a casino floor is visual impact, Light & Wonder is convinced their new HORIZON large-screen jumbo cabinet will set a new standard.

“Our goal is to create an experience that presents game content in the best way possible,” said Nathan Drane, Chief Product Officer, Gaming at Light & Wonder. “Consumers now have a higher expectation from casino games given their access to high definition in their every day lives on phones, computers and TVs.”

People expect it at home. Why wouldn’t they expect it in their casino experience?

“That’s what we aim to provide,” Drane added. “Ultimately the hardware is the canvas. We’re trying to provide a unique cabinet which captures the player on walk up, but also provides the best canvas for content as they play it. It’s meeting that player expectation, and that’s what’s driven the innovation in the industry as well.”

Light & Wonder is headquartered in Las Vegas, with a gaming division that provides slot machines, table games, and shuffling machines.

The company has rolled out the new hardware with the Dancing Drums Ultimate Explosion wide area progressive (WAP) game during a technical trial phase in six casinos in Las Vegas, California and the U.S. East Coast, which will then be followed by a full rollout across all major casinos across North America.

The new HORIZON cabinet is the latest step up in Light & Wonder’s highly successful JUMBO cabinet and features a 75-inch screen with surrounding LED panels taking the display area to a massive 90 inches. The cabinet also features a large, transparent iDeck with integrated lighting, 24-inch touchscreen, mobile charger and dual play buttons.

Drane highlighted two new features added onto the original Dancing Drums Explosion game, bringing together the three iconic drums, a popular player experience now paired with the industry-first integrated LED panel design.

“People have seen LED signage before,” he said. “What we’ve done is integrated the LED into the game. So, the game can push events out to that LED screen. You get a 75-inch, 4K monitor, which is obviously huge. It’s got that presence and gravity on the gaming floor.

“But then around it, you have the shroud of LED, which sits snug with the screen. And with that, we can now push content from the main screen out to the LED screen, so it goes from a 75-inch monitor to a 90-inch canvas. With our canvas, we can display graphics, wins, animations, we can do transitions, we can do anything that the game could do and extrapolate that out. It just provides an immersive experience for the player. But also, it provides this walk-up appeal.”

Light & Wonder is set to roll out Squid Game slots, based on the popular Netflix series. That’s an example of melding the best in gaming hardware and technology with a game that will be sure to resonate as players hit the casino floor, since Squid Game was hugely popular – reaching millions of fans, Netflix’s most popular show ever. A sequel of the series is in the works.

Drane points to the company’s history for the genesis of the new hardware: Including Alpha Pro Wave, a stunning, industry-first high-definition curved screen, a unique cabinet on the gaming floor, which turned out to be a catalyst for an entire cabinet category in the industry, and the J43 via the company’s Bally Technologies subsidiary (called “J” because it also had this unique curve to it, resembling the letter) in the upright category, with a 43-inch portrait screen.

“Doing a curved portrait on an upright cabinet was market-leading,” he said. “It followed the Alpha Wave cabinet. So, two innovative pieces of hardware back-to-back. We still have hardware engineering teams that created these ideas working on our team, so it’s a great advantage for us to have the capability.”

On the Mechanical reel side, Drane says the company highly respects stepper technology (three-reel slots). “Through the WMS [another subsidiary] and the Bally history you have the Bluebird Stepper, which was very successful from WMS. And then you have steppers like the S6000, which was very successful for Bally,” he added.

“Not only do we have the game designers, the brands that created those steppers, but we have the IDs and the engineers that created it. We were basically dormant in the stepper category for a few years as we hadn’t made a traditional stepper for some time, and then we re-entered the market about two years ago. We’ve been number one in that market for over 15 months now, and we continue to expand on that stepper footprint with new iterations.”

Light & Wonder has all that rich history within their company – both game design talent, brands, but also the hardware and engineering capability. “It’s our duty to expand on that talent and skillset.”