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SERVER-BASED GAMING
– for example, Aristocrat is working with both Bally
and Konami on server-based gaming. Inspired's Gregory observes: “Server-based gaming
is suitable for all casinos, whether they are central
Also likely to be a major player in the market is city-based venues with a high passing footfall or
Hermes SoftLab, the software company which smaller ‘community’ venues. The benefits are just
supplies crucial software building blocks to the realised in different ways. Larger casino groups
developers of casino systems. Hermes is making its benefit from the delivery of server-based gaming, as
technology compliant with the Gaming Standards there is a commercial justification for management
Association's G2S standard (see box), which will software and back-office data tools – particularly with
enable other vendors to create their own server- multiple sites. In the smaller venues, where there is
based gaming systems with the assurance of G2S- usually a restriction through space or licensing,
compliance. owners can deliver a more compelling product mix.
Everyone's a winner “Server-based gaming allows all casinos to make
more informed decisions around price of play,
With the backing of names like these, it seems a content, etcetera. It allows venue owners to be totally
foregone conclusion that the evolution of server-based flexible.”
gaming will within a few years amount to revolution.
Why standards matter
B
y its nature, server-based gaming is all about flexibility, and “Open standards protect a casino's investment in its intelligence
it's no surprise that one of the most important steps toward acquisition systems in two ways. First, open standards are more
making it a reality has not been a specific technology, but a robust and last longer than limited proprietary solutions. This is
standard – a set of principles that all vendors can follow to ensure because open standards are developed by many different groups –
that their implementations work together and in a predictable way. manufacturers, operators, regulators, and suppliers. The result is a
cross-pollination of ideas and a much richer protocol than can be
That standard is the Gaming Standards Association's G2S, or developed by a single company alone.
“game to system”, which the association describes as “the protocol
that will blow away the current back of house architecture and “Second, following in the same path of other industries that
provide operators the ability to shop for specific pieces of their have adopted open standards, gaming standards will continue to
network from multiple vendors. With support for software improve as customer demand evolves and more and more
download and remote configuration, G2S is the vehicle for manufacturers incorporate the standards. This ensures that
creating an agile floor that can adjust quickly to changing operators can secure a smooth migration path to achieve new
business requirements.” functionality while protecting existing equipment investments.”
G2S is based on the commonly-understood computer language Also active on the server-based gaming standards scene is
XML and designed to be easily upgraded, so G2S-compliant Gaming Laboratories International (GLI), whose #21 standard
systems should work smoothly with other technologies as they makes the distinction between true server-based gaming – “the
emerge. combination of a server and client terminals in which the entire or
integral portion of game content resides on the server” – and
And the Gaming Standards Association itself is a good server-supported gaming, where the game is downloaded from a
illustration of the “evolution, not revolution” story of server-based server but executed on the individual machine.The server-based
gaming. Dating back more than a decade, it was originally model is significant because it separates the activity of gaming
conceived at the 1996 World Gaming Congress & Expo in Las from the physical machine. Indeed, in principle any machine could
Vegas, and formally established (as the Gaming Manufacturers offer any game, and be customised to the individual player rather
Association) the following year. than the location, the operator, or the hardware maker – although
in practice, of course, there are likely to remain practical
But why have standards at all? Says the GSA: “The value limitations on this ultimate flexibility.
proposition for gaming standards is the bottom line: greater
revenue and decreased costs. Standards-based equipment can And the logical conclusion of this is that the gaming offer
increase revenues by allowing operators to offer more games and should cease to be hardware-dependent; it should move to a model
programs targeted to customer preferences and to retain customer more like that of the PC games industry, or indeed the film or
loyalty. Adoption of gaming standards can also decrease costs by music businesses or any number of other sectors, where the
giving operators more effective and efficient tools to manage, companies producing content and those building the facilitating
analyse and evaluate the productivity and profitability of their hardware are distinct, with widely agreed technical standards
casino operations. ensuring that the content and the machine will work together.
32 SEPTEMBER 2009
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