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The Starwall Effect

AGS uses its remarkable Starwall immersive video canvas to enhance new games Jade Wins Deluxe, Golden Wins Deluxe and more

By Frank Legato

Over the years, casinos have created countless colorful signs, flashing lights and assorted other merchandising gimmicks to attract players to showcased games. At the same time, slot manufacturers have sought to create displays on the face of slot machines meant for the machines to merchandise themselves, from the old silkscreen artwork to modern flashing LEDs and other displays.

But nothing has merged the two concepts quite as effectively as the latest attractions from slot supplier AGS, which use the award-winning Starwall “video canvas” to frame the newest games on its sleek Orion Portrait cabinet.

If you haven’t seen the Starwall display yet, you will— in fact, it’s hard to miss. Starwall is a huge, freestanding video backdrop that frames a bank of AGS video slots. Standing 8-and-a-half feet tall by 8-and-a-half feet wide, it is a colorful, animated video display created by seamlessly combining hundreds of direct-view LED tiles. The video wall displays high-impact motion graphics that coincide with the theme of the game it frames.

When placed as a backdrop to a three-machine bank of video slots, or six machines in a two-sided display, Starwall transforms a row of slots into a cinematic attraction— a self-contained, private gaming area vibrant with the sights and sounds of the game being showcased.

Steve Walther, senior director of slot products for AGS, calls it an “event-style” attraction.

“It’s an event to walk up to a machine that’s got these LEDs showing off attractive content that resonates and matches with the game themes that are below it,” Walther says. “It also advertises the progressive amounts, so instantly when people are walking by, they can decide whether they want to [chase that jackpot].

“It stops people in their tracks.”

The inaugural games being highlighted with the Starwall could not fit more perfectly into the display. They are video slots in the 88 Tian Lun game family, beginning with the titles Jade Wins Deluxe and Golden Wins Deluxe.

But what makes them perfect for Starwall is the fact they are featured on the Orion Portrait cabinet. The marquee-style cabinet, with a 42-inch vertical flat-screen monitor surrounded by 498 game- controlled LED lights, completes the Starwall’s cinematic picture, the spinning wheels and other features on the huge screen providing a striking image that you’ll notice from across the floor.

“The fun thing about that is to watch how the colors that are matching with the base game below are painted across the LEDs up above,” Walther says. “And we’ve done it in such a way that it’s not distracting to people who are playing. When you’re sitting there and you’re playing the game, you’re

noticing the ambient light from the sign, but that sign package is designed to attract people that are walking by. It’s great to see how it just shines across those LED lights.”

Jade Wins, Golden Wins

The two inaugural games linked to the Starwall display, Jade Wins Deluxe and Golden Wins Deluxe, are enhanced versions of games that have been among the most popular from AGS over the past two years.

Both games feature a four-level linked progressive jackpot won through a picking bonus featuring the “Fu Babies,” fun characters that have been popular with players.

The base game is a five-reel, 243-ways-to-win slot game. During base-game play, three or more Bonus or Wild symbols on consecutive reels trigger 10 free spins. Ten more free spins are triggered if the Bonus or Wild symbols land on a free game.

The free-spin round offers the player a choice—a larger number of free spins on the normal 243- ways, four-by-five reel format (four rows of symbols, five reels), or an expanded reel array up to six rows of symbols, for a whopping 7,776 ways to win on each spin.

The progressive is won through a randomly triggered picking bonus game. The screen transforms into a field of gold coins, and you touch them until you collect three matching Fu Baby symbols for a guaranteed win of one of the four progressive jackpots.

The central feature is the wheel bonus, played out on the oversized video wheel featured on the top video monitor. Slices on the wheel return credit awards, the four progressive jackpots, or a “coin grab” bonus in which the player touches the screen to “grab” bonus amounts on coins cascading down the screen.

The wheel bonus is triggered through a progressive fireworks display—reel symbols cause fireworks to explode in ascending order, until reaching the point where the wheel is triggered. “As you play, you earn more fireworks that appear at the side of the wheel,” Walther explains. “Or, with one result, you light all the fireworks to trigger the wheel. You never know when you’re going to get that one firework that triggers the wheel.”

The video wheel has two levels—both spin on each wheel feature, one awarding a credit amount or a bonus spin and the other awarding multipliers or other enhancements. The coin-grab bonus is interactive, utilizing the touch-screen monitor.

“One of the ‘hero’ characters appears with a basket full of coins,” Walther explains. “Each of those coins has a value ascribed to it. The bigger the number of coins that you trigger the bonus with, the more credit prizes you get to pick from the coin shower.”

There are two more games to be released in this series with the Starwall this year—Grand Ox Wins and Piggy Wins.

Grand Ox Wins is being released this month, to coincide, conveniently, with the Chinese New Year—this is the Year of the Ox.

“Keep your eyes peeled for Grand Ox Wins and its companion theme Piggy Wins,” says Walther.

“They take what we’ve done with Golden Wins Deluxe and Jade Wins Deluxe and add a couple of extra bits of excitement— a bit of a different free game experience.”

Of course, Walther says there is no rush to get the new games in the series released. “Golden Wins Deluxe and Jade Wins Deluxe have been out for quite some time, and are showing no signs of needing replacement yet,” he says.

All of the new games on the Starwall feature a volatility balance—“a good rhythm of excitement throughout the game,” Walther says, “and if they’re lucky a choice for one of the progressive prizes. It keeps players entertained and experiencing different looks for excitement.”

For all its fits, starts and delays, the COVID-19 pandemic has not slowed the rollout of the Starwall and its inaugural games.

“We’ve been really pleased with the way the rollout has gone over the past 10 months,” Walther says. “Something different, something exciting, is in demand right now. People want to look at something new and engage with something thrilling, and that’s really what we’ve put into the Starwall. So we’re pleased with the demand. We have a significant backlog of the Starwall games. I would just ask that players who are looking to play Starwall to just be patient. Because they’re bound to end up in your favorite casino shortly.

“Where we have put them, they have been met with positive feedback, and really strong and engaged play, because people just gravitate towards the Starwall. It’s new, it’s exciting, and it demands people try it out.”

The games being released this year are only the beginning for the Starwall platform. “There are multiple themes coming on this platform— not just the Asian themes, but additional themes as we move through 2021,” Walther says.

But for now, players can enjoy the Jade Wins Deluxe and Golden Wins Deluxe games with which they are already familiar, but with the added bonus wheel in the Deluxe versions. “If you liked the thrill and excitement of Golden Wins and Jade Wins, just wait until you experience the Deluxe versions on this beautiful LED-lit Starwall,” says Walther. “They are drawing players to be excited about not only this new type of gaming device, but also in taking an old favorite and giving it an exciting new twist.”

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