G2E: Zoltar speaks – or not

October 17, 2019 10:00 PM
  • Buddy Frank, CDC Gaming Reports
October 17, 2019 10:00 PM
  • Buddy Frank, CDC Gaming Reports

One noticeable trend at G2E 2019 is the lack of new licensed brand introductions.  That’s not to say that there are not dozens of featured slot machine brands dotting the floor, from James Bond to Walking Dead to Wheel of Fortune. But these were all licensing deals inked over a year ago – in some cases, decades ago. Certainly, there are new versions of many of these, including classics like Jeopardy or Willy Wonka. But hardly anything was really new.

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Everi’s Zoltar machine

The lone exception for 2019 may be Everi’s Zoltar. If you’re older, you’ll recognize the name from the 1988 film Big. The film starred a young Tom Hanks as Josh Baskin, a frustrated 12-year-old who makes a wish to be big on a Zoltar Speaks arcade game. The next morning, he wakes up magically transformed into the 30-year-old Hanks.

At G2E, Everi’s tremendously successful reel-spinning cabinet, the Player Classic, has gotten its own transformation, with a new top box, themed graphics, signage and a five-meter progressive set. The top meter features a $100,000 reset on a wide area progressive.

If Big was before your time, you may have seen Zoltar making guest appearances in recent TV commercials for the insurance company Liberty Mutual. Everi’s Executive VP & Games Business Leader Dean Ehrlich says, “We’re excited about the launch of Zoltar for two reasons. One is that our game mechanic from the original Double Jackpot Gems has worked extremely well with high denomination players and, two, the heightened public interest in Zoltar from the new insurance commercials.”

Zoltar Speaks

The Player’s Classic platform, coupled with a Skyline top box, was a hit when released several years back under the former MultiMedia brand that Everi acquired. It was a simple, time-tested format of three easy-to-read reels that mimicked a Bally S6000 from the 90’s. Everi improved the idea by adding a top box that both attracted players from a distance and provided new bonus and progressive features. It worked almost instantly with $1 players. Prior to their Double Jackpot Gems theme, it seemed to take years for any $1 mechanical reel slot to work well.

Everi added a brand last year, a Willie Nelson theme, but with a different game mechanic.  Combining the classic Zoltar brand with the proven Double Jackpot Gems math (now known as Triple Jackpot Gems) is as close to a guaranteed hit as you can get.

Here’s some additional Zoltar trivia:

  • Tom Hanks was nominated as Best Actor for the movie, but Zoltar himself was snubbed for a Best Supporting Actor nomination.
  • Big was the first movie directed by a woman (Penny Marshall) to gross over $100 million. It also was named one of the top 100 funniest movies of all time.
  • An arcade game called Zoltan, not Zoltar, was produced in 1956. It had speakers and actually talked. Ironically, the later Zoltar Speaks version didn’t speak at all. It just nodded its head and spit out cards, like the one in the movie that said “Your Wish Is Granted.”
  • There was a female version of the game released later named Zelda.
  • Jenna Lebel, Liberty Mutual’s VP of Brand and Integrated Marketing, was quoted recently in Ad Week as saying “Zoltar is an example of how the brand is trying to create ads that are one part familiar and one part unexpected.”
  • You can buy your own arcade classic Zoltar Speaks online for $6,000 to $8,500, depending on features.
  • These arcade models are available in $1 or 25-cent denominations, just like the Everi slots. However, they’re not nearly as much fun. And no matter what your fortune card says, you’ll never, ever, have the chance to win a $100,000+ jackpot on one of those.


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