lncredible Technologies’ lnfinity Super Skybox format lights up casinos with attention-grabbing games
By Frank Legato
THESE DAYS, SLOT MACHINES COME IN more shapes and sizes than ever. New types of skill games, 360-degree bonus displays and grand video presentations compete for the attention of slot players. Where a player stops to insert his gambling dollars often depends on the display that grabs attention first.
That principle was no doubt a guiding force in the design of the lnfinity Skybox video slot format from Chicago-area supplier lncredible Technologies (IT). Launched in late 2015, lnfinity Skybox placed a video slot under an imposing 55-inch flat-screen video monitor, providing a striking presentation for the companies most popular base games.
Last fall, IT doubled down on the lnfinity Skybox package by designing bonus games that would play out over four adjacent monitors of those unique cabinets. The companies game developers exploited the fact that, placed side by side on the floor, the huge, flat monitors formed what was essentially a movie screen.
Together, four of the displays create what is effectively a 123-inch video monitor. It can be seen from across the floor, instantly achieving that first principle of slot success-gaining the attention of the player above the din of hundreds of slot-machine styles.
Launched near the end of 201 6, IT called it the lnfinity Super Skybox. That 123 inches of a movie-screen display would provide a super-sized venue for any number of bonus events. The first, perhaps obvious choice would be a big bonus wheel. Wheel-spinning, of course, is as much a spectator sport on a slot bank as reel-spinning, so one of the first uses of the Super Skybox would be the launch of a new game series called the Super Sky Wheel.
It was a wheel bonus on steroids. The 123-inch display formed by those four linked monitors beamed a three-dimensional image of an enormous bonus wheel, situated horizontally, Wheel of Fortune-style, to patrons who would easily notice it from across the casino.
Of course, as any slot director will tell you, flashy video, giant screens and elaborate merchandising mean absolutely nothing without a strong basic video slot game underneath. The folks at lncredible Technologies know this too, and in fact, that knowledge is a big reason the company has had the success it has enjoyed in the brief six years or so it has been building slot machines.
Incredible Technologies had been in the business of amusement arcade games since 1985-it is the largest U.S. manufacturer of coin-operated amusement games, its most well-known being the legendary tavern and arcade game Golden Tee Golf. The company translated its amusement success to the slot floor with initial games that were only officially launched after much research, player feedback and tweaking. The result was a batch of hit slot machines right out of the gate.
Games like Crazy Money, Money Rain and others have become sustaining brands in themselves, and in many respects, the models for subsequent games. They show how the company maximizes the return from the brands, play mechanics, bonus events and reel icons players have already embraced.
It’s no wonder, then, that lnfinity Super Skybox and Super Sky Wheel were seen as new ways to give customers what they have loved from IT in the past. Both formats were launched with games in what has become known as the “Money Family” of games, all of which use the reel icons-cash, in various denominations, in reels that move like a currency printing press.
All of them also have the second-screen bonus event inspired by the original game in the brand, Crazy Money the “Money Catch Bonus,” in which players touch the screen to “grab flying dollar bills, revealing credit values behind each bill.
lnfinity Skybox was introduced in 2015 with Crazy Money Deluxe and Money Rain Deluxe. The lnfinity Super Skybox was launched last fall with the first Super Sky Wheel games, which are versions of those early games with the massive wheel bonus added. The company is now launching those games in casinos across the country.
This year, IT is milking the value of the attention-grabbing Skybox and Super Sky Wheel formats with more new games, utilizing features familiar to IT fans but designed exclusively for these larger-than-life presentations.
LATEST AND GREATEST
From the first time IT engineers rolled out the Infinity Super Skybox format, they had a wheel in mind, and the company’s executives knew the value of adding this feature to its most popular base games.
“There are four individual games, each based on a proven math model we know players like-based on high hit frequency and low volatility,” explains Caitlin Harte, director of product marketing for Incredible Technologies. “Each one goes into its own bonus round. The bonus is not shared among the four, but all four have the same bonus round in Money Catch, which is one of the most popular bonus events we’ve ever created. It was in the original Crazy Money, and we’ve carried it over all of our product lines.”
For Super Sky Wheel, IT worked the trigger for the wheel spin into that popular cash-grabbing bonus event. “Players touch the screen to grab the money as always,” says Harte. “Underneath some of the dollar bills are credit awards, but behind others are spin tokens to spin that overhead wheel. You can win up to three spins in your bonus game.”
Once the Money Catch event is over, if the player has earned wheel spins, the overhead movie-screen monitor transforms into the giant wheel, with an arrow over the player’s machine.
The big wheel is really two wheels-an outer wheel with credit amounts and four progressive jackpot awards; an inner wheel with re-spin opportunities. “They both spin independently, and lock together,” Harte explains. “There are some wedges of the wheel that have a corresponding re-spin on the inner wheel. So, irs possible you could spin that overhead wheel up to 20 times. You can win multiple progressives in the same bonus round.”
While everyone in the bank may not be in on the same bonus, each bonus-wheel event causes a commotion of excitement on the bank, and elsewhere on the casino floor. “It’s not a community game, but it is an encouragement for people standing behind you, or across the casino floor, to see from way far away what’s going on,” Harte says. “We’ve seen, when we’re out in the field observing the game, that players who haven’t hit a bonus get encouraged to see the amount they could potentially win.”
The winning formula is being repeated with the new game Winner of the West, which was just being introduced to casinos at press time. The game repeats the popular Money Catch bonus, adding a wheel event that can lead to one of five progressive jackpots.
According to Harte, Winner of the West completes the first suite of games in the Super Sky Wheel series. ”We used Crazy Money and Money Rain as launch titles for Super Sky Wheel family,” she says. “Since then, we’ve added Winners of the West, and just going to the lab is Money Roll Super Sky Wheel. So, there will be four individual base games that can go underneath that huge Super Sky Wheel on the overhead screen.”
While using those familiar game sequences for the launch of Super Sky Wheel, the company is going a different direction with the next non-wheel game for Infinity Super Skybox-a completely new experience in a game called Celestial Goddesses.
“The original Super Sky Wheel was based on four games that are already out on our base U23 cabinet,” Harte says. “Celestial Goddesses is something completely different-a new math model, new bonusing features. It’s not a game you can find anywhere else on the floor.”
Celestial Goddesses fills that 123-inch display with an overhead sun that burns constantly between events. There are four different-colored Goddesses, and the player is given the option at the outset to pick his or her “lucky Goddess”-all the background colors in the game, and the reels themselves, switch to the color of the player’s lucky Goddess. “We found that players like having the option to pick their lucky color,” says Harte.
The base 30-line game features “Goddess Stack Scatters,” which pay off whenever two or three Goddess symbols appear stacked on the reels, regardless of the location. But central to the base game is a random event that uses the big display, interacting with the individual game. “Solar Flare Random Wilds” appear frequently on the top monitor, as a “solar flare” that shoots down to the main reels to turn symbols into wild symbols. “The real key to the feature is that it happens every 17 spins.” Harte says. “So, when all four games in a bank are going, the Solar Flare wilds are happening almost constantly.”
This happens during both base games and all of the four free-spin bonus events, creating an atmosphere of nearly constant action on the game.
Three scattered bonus symbols trigger “Feature Reels.” which scroll across all four top monitors in the bank to award one of four unique free-spin events-Ice, Royal, Lucky and Fire-or the “Solar Jackpots” event, which can lead to one of four progressives.
Each free-game event awards a different number of free spins, and each can be retriggered for additional free games.
The Solar Jackpots bonus is what the company calls an “interstellar space race.” Four rings appear on the sun across the top display, each representing one of the progressive jackpots. The player’s screen displays a picking bonus, revealing icons corresponding to each jackpot ring. Whichever ring fills up first awards the corresponding progressive prize.
IT’S lnfinity Super Skybox is still spreading its wings across the casino industry, but not to worry-whichever game you seek, you won’t have trouble finding it. The display formed by those four adjacent cabinets makes its presence known on the casino floor, and many casinos are not stopping at just four games. Harte says there are some properties that have as many as 30 of these games, and often create what they’re calling “Power Walls,” using both the Super Sky Wheel and Infinity Super Skybox games.
It’s the next evolution in casino slots for Incredible Technologies, which is growing in the slot market at a pace no one imagined six years ago when the amusement company put out its first casino games.
“If you would have asked me three years ago if I thought this is where we’d be today, I would have told you you were crazy,” says Harte. “Ifs nice to operate under the radar, but we’re being noticed now.
“At the end of the day, we want to put out a good product that people will want to play, and I think we have that here.”