The advantages to buying new release gaming machines early, and how to mitigate the purchase risk.

When purchasing new machines many clubs like to wait to see what performance results the games are getting before they look at them as a serious purchase option. As most gaming managers are quite rightly held accountable for their game choices with such a high price tag,  there is a degree of conservatism creeping in to the choices that clubs are making and they are tending to go with ‘the longest and strongest’ rather than the ‘latest and greatest’. There are a few ways you can mitigate the risk with untried standalone games and premium links that should ensure you can get them in quickly.

There are several advantages to purchasing fresh, new to market, games.

The most advantageous one is that you have them available for players long before your competitors do. This draws play to your club or hotel quite quickly, particularly if your choice has turned out to be successful. I’m sure the first few clubs who installed Lightning Cash don’t regret it!

When new games and premium links are released, the manufacturers also want them in the market as quickly as they can, so the first buyers are on a much shorter lead time than the venues who wait for a few months to purchase. By then, everyone wants them and it takes a lot longer for the new machines to arrive. By the time they are on your floor, the ‘early adopters’ have had the market to themselves for 3-4 months. Winning players back to your venue again might not be so easy once players have become comfortable somewhere else.

Another advantage, as the manufacturers want some game performance figures as quickly as possible, is that you may have a negotiation advantage if you are one of the first venues to purchase an untried product. Not only can you often negotiate a good number of free conversions for older machines, or a discounted price, or cheaper signage for a premium link, but you can also negotiate a ‘Plan B’ if you need it later.

There are a few ways you can mitigate the purchase risk:

  • Keep numbers low – There is nothing wrong with buying in 4 machines on a new link rather than 6-8, or buying 2 new standalone games rather than 4. Just make sure there is a Plan B if the games don’t work as well as you had hoped. You can always complete game conversions and most manufacturers have a game warranty anyway but make sure they have plenty of good games you can use and more in the approval pipeline. You reps will tell you what’s coming up for release.  On the more common, positive side, when they do work well it is easy to extend your numbers quickly.
  • Watch what the big clubs do – there is a good reason why the top ranked clubs are making the most money. Sure, they have an advantage with having a large number of machines on their floor, and can easily accommodate most games that hit the market. However, just like every other club they put some considerable effort into choosing the games they believe will work the best for their market.  They take a risk to be the first to have them available for their players. If you see a new link or a large number of the same new game it’s probably because the gaming managers believe they will have an advantage.
  • If the game worked before it will probably work again – manufacturers can’t afford to keep reinventing the wheel so they use older successful games and build on them with added or updated features. They may have changed the artwork so that it doesn’t look the same, but the underlying maths is very similar. Asking the rep what games the new ones are based on should give you a good idea of what the potential game performance should be. The same applies to premium links, if IGT’s ‘Pot of Gold’ and Aristocrat’s ‘5 Dragons’ worked well as a standalone game, putting it on a link should ensure a solid result.
  • Game concepts that have worked before – there are a range of game types that have worked previously, so updated versions should also perform strongly. For example, tropical island themes tend to be popular, but games with green artwork often aren’t. You can use this historical information to assist in your decisions. For example, IGT are very strong with symbol driven games historically so when they release a new series of these games you would expect similar results. Aristocrat see great success with multigames as they have such a large number of standalone games to support them, so when they release a new one it should work.
  • Follow the trends – all the most popular games in the market at the moment have on-screen jackpots. Even more specifically, it is the symbol-driven jackpot that is more popular among players than the older style mystery progressive jackpot. If a new game or premium link is released with symbol-driven games it has a good chance of being successful too. In order to use this you need to really understand your player’s game preferences. Don’t just look at the top games in your venue, look at the types of games these top performing machines are, and use that to inform your purchases.
  • Floor presence – this is mainly in the case of premium links, but if you think it looks impressive, then your players probably will too. It always comes down to how it plays for your customers but most new links have a slightly longer ‘honeymoon period’ that a standalone game because they are more obvious on your gaming floor. In some cases link play builds as players become more familiar with how frequently the jackpots hit. Players at the moment like a combination of lots of low end frequent jackpots, as well as a few larger ones to chase. If a premium link ticks these boxes, it’s likely to be popular.