WMS launches an innovative online community for slot players
WMS Gaming has gone a step further, figuring out ways to keep players engaged with their favorite games even after they leave the casino.
The aim of every slot machine designer is to come up with games and features that will keep you in your seat. At this year’s massive Global Gaming Expo, where the industry introduces its hottest new titles, some of these designers truly outdid themselves. Wait until you get a load of the spectacular new Dark Knight slot machine from IGT, which pits Batman against The Joker in a struggle to save Gotham City. You can also expect to be amazed by Bally’s new iDeck virtual button panel, and by the way symbols and reels shuffle around the screen to create new winning combinations in Aristocrat’s Remix games.
You’ll find it hard to tear yourself away from games like these. But WMS Gaming has gone a step further, figuring out ways to keep players engaged with their favorite games even after they leave the casino. I learned about this when I visited WMS Gaming’s lab in Chicago a couple of weeks before G2E, and continued the discussion with them when I visited their booth at the big convention.
During my visit to the lab, I was talking about the superb Lord of the Rings game with Larry Pacey, executive vice president and global products and chief innovation officer for WMS Industries, and Phil Gelber, vice president for game development. If you’ve had the pleasure of playing WMS’s Lord of the Rings, you know it’s a quest through Middle Earth. As you progress through the game’s journey and rack up “miles,” you unlock new portions of the quest, new graphics, and new bonus packages. And because each player creates their own “identity,” the next time they play they can log back in and pick up the saga where they left off.
In addition, you can choose which unlocked segments you want to play, which gives you some control over the game’s features. It’s called Adaptive Gaming, a concept that started with the Star Trek game.
But here’s where it really gets interesting. With Lord of the Rings, Adaptive Gaming comes to your home through Players Life (www.playerslife.com). This website enables you to interact with game designers online, or play casual free games in order to accumulate more miles and unlock new segments—which you can jump into the next time you visit the casino and log into a Lord of the Rings slot machine.
“What’s really cool is that you can be at the casino, unlock a few miles, and you’re three miles short of getting to the next bonus round when you’re leaving…and then you can go home and log onto our website and play a casual [version of the] game,” Pacey explained. “If you complete those games, you unlock miles, so when you go back to the casino and trigger the bonus, that bonus round is available to you…it’s a new type of engagement with players. There’s a whole community there on playerslife.com.”
“We also started a designer blog where designers are posting their thoughts on designing slot machines,” Gelber adds. “This community is really exciting, because they’re getting more exposure to the creative process and learning some of the pains we go through to bring these products out. One of the designers posted about her design of Lucky Penny, and some of the things that were left on the drawing board…people get an insight into all of that.”
To WMS, taking all of this online, building interest, and enabling slot players to interact with each other seems like a natural step in this Internet age. There’s no cost to the player. It’s just there if you want to take the fun of the games home.
“Why is this online?” Pacey asked rhetorically. “People who play slot machines [regularly] are really vested in learning the product and mastering each one, and experiencing all the bonus rounds. Everybody’s gaming experience is unique to them. When you play Star Trek and you’ve made it to the Admiral rank, and you’re able to correspond with someone who’s made it to Ensign level or Lieutenant, it’s kind of neat.”
Adaptive Gaming began with Star Trek, where players can earn Federation medals and move up in rank to unlock new game themes. Then the concept was expanded in the longer quest of Lord of the Rings. Now, Players Life has been introduced with Lord of the Rings.
You can expect this concept to be expanded in the coming year, which means the fun of experiencing your favorite games—and progressing through their various levels and adventures—doesn’t need to end once you exit the casino. You can continue the fun at home, and interact on forums with like-minded slot enthusiasts who might also teach you a thing or two. It’s another winning idea from WMS, and what we’re seeing so far only scratches the surface of the possibilities.
Bringing The Excitement Home – Slot.