I am often asked by venues with more limited gaming machine capex budgets where to spend their money to get the best benefit. For some manufacturers the choice is an easy one – you go with their best performing game family. However, with Aristocrat the wide range of popular games presents more of a strategic choice for venues with limited machine numbers and resources.

Given the choice of games and, often, the faster return on investment, I always recommend a good mix of Aristocrat games as there is something for every player type, all sizes of club and different styles of pubs. Of course, it’s easy to make sure you have a good range of these games and a variety of product (several premium links, and lots of different SAP games) when you have a big capex budget to play with and large numbers of machines on the gaming floor where variety is the key to success.

However, if you’re a smaller venue with a limited budget, what strategies should you adopt? Here are the best options to consider:

You must have the current machine

It’s just logical, to offer your players the latest games you must have the current machine on your gaming floor. For Aristocrat this is their Mars X machine and if you can afford only one or two each year, you can rotate new release games through the machines by completing game conversions. This way, even if you are a small venue, your players will still find something that they have at a larger venue in the area. Your gaming floor will be perceived as just as “up-to-date” as the larger venue by your regular players.

So, what new games are strong investment options?

  1. Cash Express Luxury Line – comes in a SAP version as well as a link and the SAP is great for smaller venues as they give you the flexibility to change games regularly and move them around your gaming floor. The jackpots are still strong enough to interest players and the three Cash Express Luxury Line games, Queen of the Nile, 50 Lions and Where’s the Gold, are all familiar to players.

While they have the popular hold and spin style feature mechanic overlaid on these original games it is delivered through a train feature where carriages deliver additional wins for the players. The combination of familiar games with a contemporary twist is ensuring performance results are very strong across the market.

  1. Dollar Storm also comes in both SAP and link versions but again, if you can only afford one or two machines then Dollar Storm SAPs are particularly unusual as they have been lifting up the ranking charts in the last year! The most popular of the games so far, Egyptian Jewels and Ninja Moon, are an easy choice, but there are two new games due for release soon – Fight for Troy and Aussie Boomer – that will provide some fresh games for all venues, and reboot performance even further.
  2. Scorchin Fortune Flame is a multigame with three new hold and spin games in the one machine which has great appeal for clubs and pubs with small footprints and limited machine numbers.

So, what does it mean for the best game family ever made?

Absolutely every club and hotel needs the strongest link in the market on their gaming floor: Dragon Link. It has been the most successful long-term game range for several years and shows no sign of fading, however as there are no new games coming for this product, it is time to look at consolidating the Dragon games.

While many venues that I work with could live with a couple more Dragon Link games the reality is that it is often the Dragon Cash games that top the ranking charts. The higher tier players will generally prefer the Dragon Cash games as only they can win the jackpot on a SAP game they are playing and they feel they can win it in their playing session. They won’t risk losing “their jackpot” on a link to a lucky player that walks in with a small investment unless the jackpot is quite high. With the consolidation of Dragon Link or Dragon Cash games, it gives you a great chance to add some or the newer titles and really manage the lifecycle of your games to maximise the ROI.


If a few machines each year is what you can afford, then purchasing a couple of Aristocrat Mars X machines with a mix of the new games featured above as SAPs is a perfect start. You can build on this each year.

To get a stronger deal, while you are purchasing these new Mars X machines, negotiate game conversions to help in consolidating your Dragon Link and Dragon Cash games in your club or pub, or use it as an opportunity to convert to newer games for your existing Mars X product.

Many clubs and hotels prefer to pay for machines on 30-day terms. However, Aristocrat’s purchasing models enable smaller venues to extend the payment terms over several years – plus they have the advantage of conversions at no cost along the way so you can change the games for your players as each new game is released.


Justine Channing

Gaming Specialist – Cream Gaming