Slot Technology to Watch for: More Skill-Based Games

 Slot Technology to Watch for: More Skill-Based Games

Most slot machines are games of pure chance, but many players like to feel as if they’re in control. There are a number of ways game designers can give you that feeling, including skill-based bonus events and perceived-skill games.

In skill-based games, your actions directly affect how large a bonus you will earn. In perceived-skill games, your skill level has a real effect on how the game plays out, but then your reward is determined by a random number generator.

Let’s look at an example of each. International Game Technology has a new skill-based slot machine called “Centipede,” and it’s based on the early 1980s Atari video game classic. In the bonus event, you use a joystick to move from side to side, avoiding falling spiders, scorpions and other creepy crawlies while moving into position to shoot. You then use one of four buttons to fire at the crawling centipede, eliminating some segments for bonuses and sending the remnants on their separate ways.

If you destroy all segments of a centipede, you advance to another, more difficult level, with more bugs to dodge and a second centipede to fight.

When I tried the game out, I mostly found that my “Centipede” skills were REALLY rusty. I picked up the pace throughout the round and did destroy the first centipede in order to move to level 2, but alas, could not advance again. I still got a nice bonus and had a lot of fun.

On the perceived-skill side is Bally Technologies’ “All That Jazz!” which uses the iDeck virtual button panel – a video touchscreen replaces the buttons found on most slots. In the bonus event, you select a tune, and the iDeck turns into a piano keyboard. The main screen displays the notes to play, and how well you play is reflected in an “Accuracy Meter.”

However, when you’re done, a random number generator determines how large a bonus you get. You’ve tested your skill, but the skill doesn’t directly determine your payoff.

For now, actual skill-based slots are rare, and even perceived-skill games are a minority of machines. But gamemakers want to be prepared for an influx of players who were raised on video games. Consider games such as “Centipede” and “All That Jazz!” part of an early indicator of things to come.

I played “Centipede” at the Global Gaming Expo in October, and the technology is new to slots. Expect the appearance of such games in casinos in the coming months.

John Grochowski is an author and gambling consultant who has written about the casino industry since 1994. Look for his posts about gaming strategy and trends on the Down the Road blog.

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