BEST OF THE BEST
Slot awards reveal the most popular slot games in the business
By Frank Legato
In late February, I went to the ﬁfth annual Slot Awards hosted by consultancy Eilers & Krejcik Gaming. These awards analyze slot games in 15 categories for physical casinos, plus separate awards for online and social games.
What sets these awards apart from awards issued on subjective opinions of games is that they award the slot games that have drawn in the most revenue over the previous year—the most-played games. Thus, the report is a good gauge of what kinds of games appeal most to casino players.
For most of the ﬁrst ﬁve years, Aristocrat Gaming has dominated these awards. Last year, Aristocrat topped nine categories in the slot awards. This year’s awards, though, reﬂected an increasing variety on the slot ﬂoors, as many suppliers other than Aristocrat scored multiple awards, including some slot-makers earning their ﬁrst nods in the event.
Aristocrat, of course, still dominated the awards, winning a total of six—more than any other supplier—including the top “slot Oscar,” a repeat as Top Overall Supplier of slot machines.
As usual, there were several gems among the Aristocrat winners. The year’s Top Performing New Video Reel Core Game was Aristocrat’s Bao Zhu Zhao Fu Red Festival, which features the manufacturer’s signature Hold & Spin bonus round, times three, as a “Triple Boost” feature triggers all three unique Hold & Spin games to be played simultaneously for an accumulating award.
That game won in two categories, also taking the title of Most Innovative Game.
The Hold & Spin bonus was prominent in Aristocrat’s other wins, including the venerable Dragon Link as the Top Performing Proprietary Branded Game. Aristocrat also won for Top Performing Cabinet with its new Neptune Single, a half-size version of its double-stacked Neptune Double premium cabinet that has been popular for years.
While Aristocrat remained on top, increasing competition in the slot sector has opened the way for top-performing games from other suppliers. IGT, for instance, won four awards, including nods for its DiamondRS cabinet, named Top Performing New Mechanical Reel Cabinet – Core. This is a modern version of the classic mechanical-reel slot game for which IGT was dominant for decades.
IGT’s venerable Wheel of Fortune franchise is as popular as ever, with WOF High Roller winning for Top Performing Third Party IP Branded Game. This places the famous game-show slot on IGT’s giant Peak65 cabinet and its imposing 65-inch video screen.
In addition to the classic wheel spin, there are a bunch of cool features like free games on expanding reels that can trigger multiple wheel spins if they expand all the way from the top to the bottom of the display. These wheel spins—hosted, naturally, by Vanna White— can apply a multiplier to wheel outcomes that can include more than one arrow.
IGT also won its ﬁfth award for Top Performing Video Poker Game for its great Ultimate X Poker game, which adds multipliers to the regular video poker mix.
Light & Wonder won three awards, scoring Top Performing New Mechanical Reel Game for its great new Blazing 7s wheel game, Blazing 777 Triple Double Jackpot Wild. This game places the most legendary of the old Bally reel-spinners, Blazing 7s, on its new Landmark 7000 reelspinning cabinet, which is topped by a bonus wheel and adds a number of bonus features (most notably, the wheel) to the classic Blazing 7s game experience. If you’re a slot traditionalist, this is the year’s new game.
Bluberi scored its ﬁrst EKG Slot Awards, winning for Top Performing Game from an Emerging Supplier with its Devil’s Lock game and as Most Improved Supplier – Core.
This is one of the most popular games released since Bluberi, formed 24 years ago in Canada as a primarily Class II supplier, moved its headquarters to Las Vegas and brought in veteran slot talent, from CEO Andrew Burke—who for years led the slot division of AGS—to Chief Operations Oﬃcer Mike Brennan, a veteran of IGT, GTECH and Atronic.
Devil’s Lock features a locking bonus and several primary-game mystery events. Randomly during base-game spins, the main devil character will appear to grant credit awards, multipliers, wilds or other bonuses. When the devil lands in the middle position, he activates all cash-on-reel coins symbols on the screen, as well as any symbols corresponding to one of the four jackpots—static prizes of $25, $75, $500 or even the top Grand of $6,600. A “Rewind” symbol on the screen brings out the devil character to transform other reel spots into additional prizes.
Top Performing NEW Video Reel Core Game: Bao Zhu Zhao Fu Red Festival – Aristocrat
Top Performing NEW Mechanical Reel Core Game: Blazing 777 Triple Double Jackpot Wild – Light & Wonder
Top Performing NEW Premium Game: Lightning Dollar Link – Kung Fu Master – Aristocrat
Top Performing NEW Video Cabinet – Core: Neptune Single – Aristocrat
Top Performing NEW Mechanical Reel Cabinet – Core: DiamondRS – IGT
Top Performing NEW Cabinet – Premium: Kascada Dual Screen – Light & Wonder
Top Performing Proprietary Branded Game: Dragon Link – Aristocrat
Top Performing Third Party IP Branded Game: Wheel of Fortune – High Roller – IGT
Top Electronic Table Game (ETG) Supplier: Interblock
Top Performing Video Poker Game: Ultimate X Poker – IGT
Top Performing Game from an Emerging Supplier: Devil’s Lock – Bluberi
Most Innovative Game: Bao Zhu Zhao Fu Red Festival – Aristocrat
Most Improved Supplier – Core: Bluberi
Most Improved Supplier – Premium: IGT
Best Overall Supplier of Slot Content: Aristocrat
SOCIAL CASINO AWARDS
Best Social Slots Game: Lightning Link Casino – Pixel United
Best New Social Casino Game: MGM Slots Live – PlayStudios
Top Social Casino Company: SciPlay
iGAMING AWARDS (Real Money)
Top Performing NEW Online Slot: Almighty Buﬀalo Megaways – White Hat Studios
Top Performing NEW Online Table Game: 21+3 Progressive Blackjack – Bragg Gaming Group
Top Performing Online Live Casino Game: Live Dealer Blackjack – Evolution
Most Innovative Online Game: Break the Bounty LuckyTap – Design Works Gaming
Best Overall Supplier of Online Content Evolution:
Top Performing Omni-Channel Slot (Retail & Online): Triple Jackpot Gems – Everi