TG Talk – Is Digital Category C the best route forward?

TG Talk – Is Digital Category C the best route forward?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017 Posted by James Walker

In the UK, Category C gaming machines are a stalwart of the country’s pub, bingo and AGC markets.

Also known as Amusement With Prize (AWP) machines, Category C games are typically reel-based offerings, with a maximum stake of £1 and maximum prize of £100.

According to the latest statistics from the Gambling Commission, around 77,000 Category C terminals are currently in operation across the country, bringing in revenues of approximately £233 million each year.

Although traditionally housed in analogue cabinets, over recent years Digital Category C has emerged as a new industry subsector – the physical reels being replaced with digital screens and animations.

The aim of Digital Category C, developers say, is not only to bring the gaming experience into the 21st century, but also to provide operators with easy game switch-out options.

As with digital slots in the casino industry, Digital Category C is not without its detractors. Some – primarily older – players continue to shy away from the new high-tech offering, favouring the traditional physical-reel experience.

However, given the ever-present threat of Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs – the £100 stake, £500 jackpot machines found in betting shops across the country), the Cat C developer community is racing to come up with new ways to increase the sector’s competitiveness.

The question is: does digital represent the future of Category C gaming? We caught up with some of the industry’s leading voices to find out…

 

Nicola Wallbank, content test manager at Blueprint Gaming: “As the market leader in the UK for Digital Category C machines with more than 4,000 King of Games on site, we can confirm that the demand is extremely healthy.

“Our games make up around 70% of the UK’s Digital Category C footprint, and we put our popularity down to player recognition and acceptance of the game content due to cross-channel presence.

“In addition, our game menus provide a unique balance of random and controlled games with higher return-to-player delivery to enhance attraction. We offer the player a wider choice with slots style and more traditional types of games.

“Our compendium is designed to return to player at a level that is at least 6% higher than the average. Yet despite this, the revenue has increased across a significant number of machines on site within the pub sector.

“We can only conclude from this that we are attracting new players to the machine, who are drawn by the quality and variety of our product mix.

“Operators appear to be extremely optimistic about digital as well, and this is illustrated by orders we have taken this year alone with Bob Rudd, Essex Leisure and Mecca, to name just a few.”

 

Jonathan Powell, business development director for Select Gaming and G Squared Games: “Whilst other category machines have completely transitioned to digital, Category C still has a long way to go – although the arcade sector has seen a much faster adoption rate than the pubs.

“That said, it is now abundantly clear that Digital Category C is by far the best option for both pub operators and retailers. This presents a hugely exciting opportunity for us at G-Squared Games, and we look forward creating more top performing titles and building many more Casino Kings.”

 

Kevin Weir, business development director for Electrocoin Sales: “The pace at which digital is growing is phenomenal, and we see ourselves very much as part of that. Monte Carlo is our new digital multigame platform. It has been developed entirely in-house and features our own content that you won’t find anywhere else.

“The Monte Carlo test figures that have run across various Independent Operators Association (IOA) member sites have been rock solid, and these are getting better as time goes on. We recently received endorsement from Essex Leisure, another IOA member has come in and placed orders, and we are in discussions with various other operators.

“We see Monte Carlo as a huge project going forward. It’s been five years in development, and we are convinced that digital – certainly in the pub sector – is only going one way.”

 

Jason Frost, UK operator and president of Euromat: “Adult gaming centres in the UK still have a lot of legacy Category C equipment, and this speaks volumes in terms of player preference. Having said that, take-up is increasing, and it’s nice to see some of the lower-tech Digital Category C pieces working in both pubs and AGCs.

“The beauty of digital equipment is that if you buy a game in and your customers don’t like it, you can very easily and quickly change this – whereas with analogue you are trapped with the same game.

“For me, the best Digital Category C products are the community gaming pieces. When one person gets the feature, everyone playing gets the feature. This does give more community spirit, and you often see people chatting and talking when playing community games.”

 

Latest

‘Fake news’ – FOBT review has not been derailed, says Bacta

TG Talk – Is Digital Category C the best route forward?

New £10 note to enter circulation in September

‘Unsustainable aggravation’ – Italian street market hit by higher taxes

Gaming Products & Services Directory

The essential directory for the gaming industry