Game over for casinos? Not if they turn to video games

Game over for casinos? Not if they turn to video games

Wednesday, May 3, 2017
GameCo's Blaine Graboyes talks video game gambling machines

It’s no secret that land based casinos are in a spot of trouble. Younger generations of 20 and 30 somethings aren’t gambling on slots like they used to, and unless casinos make some serious changes this doesn’t look like a problem that’s going to go away on its own. Fortunately, help is at hand.

GameCo is a company which creates VGMs or video game gambling machines. These are skilled gaming machines for casino floors which offer a wholly different experience to slot machines. They went live in Atlantic City in November 2016 in three Caesars properties, and since then they’ve been working on securing new locations in Atlantic City, with launches agreed and coming up elsewhere in places including Connecticut, Florida amongst others.

Regarding the feedback they’ve received so far, CEO Blaine Graboyes commented: “Response to the product has been tremendous with strong demand from casinos and positive feedback from players. In fact, our surveys show that 84% of players would recommend the game to their friends. There’s no better marketing than social promotion amongst friends.”

As of right now GameCo has three games live with more to follow. These are ‘Danger Arena’, a first person shooter (FPS) title, ‘Pharoah’s Secret Temple’ in collaboration with Pirate Gold Studios that is ‘comparable to Candy Crush’ and basketball title ‘Nothin’ but Net’, in which players must sink as many baskets as possible in 12 shots.

Naturally different games appeal to different demographics. On this topic Graboyes stated: “‘Danger Arena’ players tend to be male and 60% are under 40 years old. This is great news for the casino industry, where the average slot player has “aged” ten years in the last decade.

“With ‘Pharaoh’s Secret Temple’ we’re attracting more of a casual gamer (the average female gamer is 42 years old). And ‘Nothin’ but Net’ is appealing to a very wide audience, including sports enthusiasts. Appealing to all Gamers is a key strategy for GameCo and we’re seeing this take hold with each new game.”

So are skill games bringing new customers to casinos or altering the behaviours of current ones? Graboyes stated: “We’ve shown that skill-based games can meet, or even beat, floor average at casinos with the right marketing and placement. And we’ve also seen that we’re attracting “net new players” who would not normally play slot machines. This is driving incremental new revenue for casinos, which is critical to the ongoing viability of our industry.”

In March 2017 GameCo secured Gaming Laboratories International (GLI) approval (under GL-11) for its platform. Naturally this will provide an essential backbone to discussions going forward and planned moves into the rest of the States, and other territories abroad such as Canada, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America - all of which GameCo are moving on right now.

Graboyes has called the GameCo approach “evolutionary not revolutionary” and has stressed on more than one occasion that their VGMs are not just to attract millennials. They are for gamers; a demographic not limited to the millennial tag and one with far greater and wider appeal.

To this end, and to ensure that they appeal to as wide a spectrum as possible, GameCo has agreed deals with well known brands such as Terminator 2, Mission Impossible, Star Trek, and others with “multi-generational appeal”.

Graboyes noted too that we can expect more on this front soon: “Shortly, we will be announcing our first AAA video game partnerships as well as bringing some of the best classic video games to the casino. We want to appeal to all Gamers and believe that these well-known brands will provide instant recognition and achieve wide appeal on the casino floor.“

When it comes to return on investment for casinos, Graboyes explained how the VGMs offer similar returns to slot machines. He said: "As for the skill component of our games, all of our games include our patented method and system for managing Return To Player (RTP) - which is how much the machine will theoretically pay out over time. Our games have similar economics for the casino as slot machines. This is essential as slots generate about 75% of casino revenues in most markets. And this revenue has been stagnant or declining over the past two decades, especially with commercial casinos. GameCo’s VGMs are a true skill gaming experience - the players’ score is their payout and winnings."

Totally Gaming says: GameCo’s decision to focus its attention on ‘gamers’ and not ‘millennials’ looks set to pay off. Its VGMs are an innovative and welcome addition to casino floors and with the different options in terms of game content, they should appeal to a huge amount of those in casinos around the world. The skill element too is something which have the potential to be well utilised by savvy casino operators.

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