STAYING AHEAD OF THE CURVE
Incredible Technologies builds on their growing success with the launch of two new games and a new cabinet
By John Grochowski
Just like casino players, slot manufacturers face a learning curve.
What makes a wagering game different from a game for entertainment? What will attract players and keep them coming back? What do casino operators need from a game?
Incredible Technologies has proved a fast study since it introduced its initial slots to the casino industry at Las Vegas’ Global Gaming Expo in 2009. The company has been fast on its feet, adapting its approach, and had one of the industry’s megahits in Money Rain.
Now, with a spectacular new Infinity V55 cabinet to run its games at their best and two exciting new slots in Fate of the 8 Power Wheel and Heat ‘Em Up Power Wheel, Incredible Technologies is on a roll.
The Infinity V55 features a huge 4K, vertical 55-inch monitor for ultra-high resolution on the largest core-product cabinet in the slot industry. Its towering size makes it easy to spot for players, but it’s also easy to place for casinos with its standard 28-inch base.
“We are so excited about the successful launch of our Infinity V55 cabinet after its debut at G2E this past year, and we are proud of the continued nationwide rollout still in full effect,” said Director of Product Marketing Caitlin Harte. “The cabinet launched with four titles, all currently proving to be huge successes with performance averaging over three times house average. The four titles span two unique game feature families – Heat ‘Em Up Power Wheel and Fate of the 8 Power Wheel make up the Power Wheel game family while Crazy Money Gold and Rays of Egypt make up the GoldLink game family.”
There’s a special excitement about the Power Wheel games.
Fate of the 8 Power Wheel has an Asian theme with reel symbols such as lotus blossoms, lanterns and the lucky number 8, and there are plenty of rewarding extras to keep you spinning.
It’s a 30-line video slot with a Power Wheel on top for bonus action. You can bet 40, 80, 120, 200 or 320 credits per spin, a betting structure that makes Fate of the 8 perfect for low-denomination play.
An Instant Stack feature brings an immediate charge to your credit meter. Some symbols contain the words “Instant Stack,” and any time a full stack of three of them lands on the reels, you get extra credits. If you get two stacks, you get a bigger payoff, and so on up.
The fun really starts when three Power Wheel symbols land on the reels. Then you get a spin of the wheel, and one of three things could happen:
- The wheel could stop on a wedge that gives you a credit award. When that happens, a secondary wheel comes into play. On the inner wheel, you could multiply your winnings up to four times, or you could land on a respin wedge and go back to the big wheel for an extra opportunity to win.
- The wheel could stop on a wedge that gives you a jackpot at one of six progressive levels: Mini, Minor, Major, Larger, Grand and Jumbo.
- The wheel could stop on Bonus and take you to the Koi Catch bonus event.
In the Koi Catch Bonus, the inner wheel spins to give you a number of picks. Your screen then takes you to a crystal-clear stream where you touch koi fish as they swim by. Each fish in your allotted catch gives you credit awards or additional picks.
Heat Em Up Power Wheel also involves the big wheel for bonuses. A five-reel video slot, each reel three symbols deep, Heat Em Up has a classic look with 7s, bars, bells and cherries among the symbols.
As in Fate of the 8, Instant Stacks can bring instant wins. Here, the stacked symbols say “Heat Em Up” and they power up your credit meter any time stacks fill up reels 2 and 4.
Whenever three Power Wheel symbols are scattered on the reels, it’s time for a trip to the wheel. Just as in Fate of the 8, you could win credit awards, with a second wheel spinning to either multiply your winnings or give you another shot at the main wheel. You could win one of six progressive jackpots. Or you could hit the “Bonus” wedge and advance to the Super Power Up event. That involves a stack of bonus wheels and this time the secondary wheel spins to show you just how tall the bonus Tower of Wheels will be – you could power up through seven wheels.
When you face the tower, the bottom wheel spins first. Each space on the wheel brings a credit award. Some spaces also include an up arrow. When the wheel spins, if it does not stop on an arrow space, you collect your bonus and go back to the regular game. But if it does contain an arrow, you collect your bonus and you get a spin of the next wheel up.
If you have a seven-wheel tower and get the up arrows to power up through seven wheels – well, that’s slot magic.
The magic has been building ever since Incredible’s initial slots, the “Magic Touch” games that enabled players to choose their volatility. Money, with stylized American currency as reel symbols, was an early player favorite, and led to successor games such as Crazy Money and Money Rain.
Other slots didn’t fare as well. Incredible had to climb that learning curve as it crossed over from the amusement games industry, where it dominated with Golden Tee Golf and other favorites.
“Finding our brand definitely took trial and error,” said Vice President, Sales and Marketing Dan Schrementi. “Whether a player or industry expert, it’s easy to see that the longest lasting games on the floor are of the higher volatility class. Early on it was easy for us to be swayed by that, making games with huge jackpot potentials and feast-or-famine game math.
“In reality, the players’ investments with our products told a different story – they played our games that offered more entertainment and time on device with good (but maybe not life-changing) jackpot potentials. The success of our Money collection of titles is a great example of this. Clearly high volatility games remain staples of any slot floor, but our success has proven that there is a very large fan base of players looking for new experiences that offer a better mix of fun, time and wins.
“The key to adapting and finding the right formula was a realization that the slot machine industry has striking similarities to the entertainment industry, Schrementi said. That understanding has led to creative original content and successful slot franchises.
“The casino industry is much like the entertainment business – it’s content driven, in search of hits that can turn into franchises,” he said. “We are most proud of the fact that our place in the industry is based on original content, with a signature look and feel that has built a fan base with an entertainment-seeking slot player. We skip the big licensed brand names and over-the-top cabinets to attract players, and instead invest our R&D efforts into simply creating fun and fair gaming experiences that players want to play.”
That’s helped Incredible grow past its original three-state start for distributing its slots to 29 states today, as well as in Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean.
“Once we wrapped our heads around the fundamental idea of viewing casino games as an entertainment product in a retail environment, it shifted our trajectory,” Schrementi said. “We treat the game math like the plot of a movie, thinking and analyzing how the math makes our players feel at different points of the games’ experience. We treat the art, features and theme as a genre, knowing players will classify and compare based on this.
“Finally, we spend an equal focus on the packaging, or the retail marketing of the game. We try to be the best at advertising the expectation of our games even before a player sits down. Whether or not a player returns to play the game another time is based on if the experience we provided lives up to what was advertised. We believe it shouldn’t just be licensed titles that get this treatment. While this may sound simplistic, it’s easy for game manufacturers to get too hyper focused on one of these disciplines. This macro view has definitely shaped how we make products.”
Where does Incredible Technologies go from here? From strength to strength, it seems.
“We have been fortunate to build a fan base across three product lines, including our player-favorite Skybox games (like Crazy Money Deluxe), and our new popular V55 games (Like Heat ‘Em Up Power Wheel),” Schrementi said. “We have definitely found our lane in the video slot segment. Our goal right now is based on expansion and to bring our popular titles to every licensed gaming market that we can in North America.
“We’ve placed our products in exciting new markets spanning from the Northeast (now including Pennsylvania) all the way to the Northwest (bringing on states like Idaho and Oregon) and virtually everywhere in between. Our focus now is our expansion in Canada, including most recently our first license in the Ontario province. There are more expansion segment opportunities that we will focus on in North America in the coming years and we will continue to focus on expanding our innovative, video-based, gaming experiences.”