AGS injects new life into game show and trivia slot genres with “Family Feud”
By Frank Legato
The TV game show Family Feud has been part of American popular culture since the1970s. The program, which has members of two families faceoff in a contest to find the most popular answers to a variety of general questions—as determined by behind-the-scenes surveys of audience members—has survived nearly four decades in various incarnations.
The TV game show’s continuing popularity has also made it appealing as a slot machine theme over the years, but never with as much authenticity as the new version from American Gaming Systems, being released as part of the slot-maker’s “It Pays To Know” series.
That series of games from AGS—already on the casino floors with titles like the hit “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!” and the more recent “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?”—centers around a patented “Trivia Bonus.” Bonus rounds feature multiple-choice trivia questions, with the highest bonus awards for guessing right the first time.
AGS game designers determined this style of bonus fits perfectly with a game like Family Feud, and Fremantle Media, owners of the TV game show, agreed, providing all the raw data AGS could ask for—thousands of the actual surveys, each of 100 audience members, from the television show’s archives.
“They provided us with pretty much all the surveys from the show,” says Andrew Burke, vice president of slot products for AGS. “There are over a thousand question types,” adds Kevin Reilly, assistant director of product management for AGS, “but every survey is just like the TV show—100 persons surveyed, and you’re trying to get the most popular answers.”
AGS also made a concerted effort to create an authentic portrayal of the popular TV show, from paying extra for separate licensing agreements for the show’s theme music and game transition sounds to framing the trivia bonuses to exactly replicate the formats of the quiz portions of the actual Family Feud television show.
In fact, this slot has just about everything the show has, outside of current host Steve Harvey, who has brought the show to the highest popularity and ratings in its history. Burke offers a tease for future sequels of the Family Feud slot, though. “What we tried to do with this game was to give it as many elements close to the real show as possible—except the host. We want to save some tricks for future games.”
The great attention AGS paid to detail shows in the primary game as well as the trivia-quiz rounds that make up the game’s two main bonus events, which replicate the segments of the Family Feud show that involve the audience-survey quizzes.
However, Burke notes that the goal was to place the elements into a game that will be appealing to all slot players. So, like many AGS video slots before it, the Family Feud game is packed with bonuses, multipliers and mystery events. “There are three different bonus rounds, with some surprises hidden in the trigger symbols,” Burke says.
There also is a five-level progressive jackpot, with the amounts displayed on the large top-box LCD of its tall, portrait-style cabinet, called the Skytower. The progressives are won in the primary game by collecting four or more scattered “Instant Jackpot” symbols. While max-bet is required to win the progressives, players win fixed prizes for lining up the jackpot symbols at lower bets.
There also is a neat primary-game feature that occurs randomly—the middle reels will be highlighted by an “X,” and all the highlighted reel symbols will change to the same winning symbol. (The primary game is a 1,024-ways-to-win setup, with no paylines but wins for adjacent symbols.)
But the heart and soul of the game is in the two trivia bonuses, crafted on the lines of the main quiz segments of the TV show. The other bonus event is a free-spin round called “For the Win.” Which bonus event you get depends on a preliminary round triggered by four or more scattered “Game Board” symbols. The number of symbols triggering the bonus has significant play later on.
When the bonus is triggered, the Game Board symbols light up over a dimmed reel field. The player picks to reveal one of the three bonus events. There also is a hidden fixed prize award—if you select that, you still select again to get one of the three bonus events.
The first of the trivia bonuses, “Survey Says,” replicates one survey question from the show—for example, “Name something that tastes best fresh out of the oven,” or “Name something that is often misplaced”—and the player’s goal is to the top five audience responses from eight possibilities, before selecting the three answers that were not in the survey results.
Of course, every time you pick one of the losers, you hear that familiar buzzer while the red “X” flashes on the screen. Giving three wrong answers ends the bonus. However, if you pick the five right answers, an additional credit award is paid.
The other main quiz event is the “Fast Money Bonus,” based on the “Fast Money Round” in the TV show, in which contestants are asked to try to find the top answer to several different survey questions in rapid-fire order. Five questions—all based on actual surveys of 100 audience members—are presented, one at a time, just like on the show.
This is where the triggering spins come in—a multiplier is applied to all Fast Money awards according to the number of Game Board symbols that triggered the event—if four symbols triggered the bonus, awards are at 10X; five symbols, 20X; six, 30X; seven, 40X, and eight symbols, 100X.
The questions then appear in rapid succession, with bonus awards for picking any of the top three of six displayed audience responses. After all five questions are answered, the results are tallied and the total is increased by the multiplier, then multiplied by the line bet and awarded.
Each survey answer carries a point score corresponding to the number of audience members who gave that answer. At the end of the bonus, if the total sum of the player’s survey score is100 or more, an additional picking bonus is awarded, in which the player picks from three buzzers to reveal a prize.
The free-spin bonus is a unique event which, while themed to the show, will appeal to all slot players. The number of triggering spins determines the height of the reels, up to a maximum of 12 positions. When a red “X” appears on one the middle reels, it converts to a wild symbol and locks the reel. On the next spin, one of the remaining reels expands one position in height. The free-spin round lasts until three red “X” symbols appear.
According to Burke, this month will mark the widespread release of the new Family Feud game to casinos, and he anticipates a hit. “Historically, some other folks have launched Family Feud games, but I really feel this game is the truest to the show format,” he says. “It’s the best attempt at bringing the elements that make the show great as a slot game.
“This is, first, just a great brand. And I think we’ve done a fantastic job of making it true to the people who truly love the show. But I also think we’ve made it very true to real slot players. When you get into these bonus rounds, you can win big. We got the math on this game really right. You can come out of those bonus rounds with a big prize.”
“The iconic brand is going to drive people to this,” adds Reilly, “but the game will keep them there.”
It’s unlikely this game will be the first version of Family Feud from AGS. Burke reminds of the treasure trove of thousands of survey questions at the disposal of the slot-maker’s game designers. “I have a sense this game is going to be really popular, so certainly if it is, we’re going to continue down that road (with sequels),”Burke says. “We have a good partnership with the Fremantle Group, and we hope to support the Family Feud brand for some time to come.”
Burke wouldn’t say when to expect a follow-up featuring host Harvey, but nothing’s ruled out.
Hey, what about Richard Dawson?
Five-reel, 1,024-ways-to-win video slot; knowledge-based trivia bonuses; free-spin bonus events; five-level progressive jackpot; penny, 2-centand nickel denominations
Payback % Range
Average Hit Frequency