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Review ICE TOTALLY GAMING 2014


JETON-SETTING


GPI introduces its J3 games changer into a market into which casino currency hasn’t significantly changed in 100 years,


MICROGAMING’S RIP ROARING ICE


Microgaming’s Head of Product Channels, Neill Whyte, looks back at a spectacular week at the London show


“A couple of weeks on, having recovered from the aching feet, we can look back and say ICE 2014 was our best to date! Our largest ever stand was abound with desktops, land-based machines, mobiles, tablets, and even smart watches to display our lat- est content, products and cross-platform capability. And boy did we have plenty to preview!


The build-up to ICE saw Avalon II take centre stage, an epic sequel to its incredibly successful original. Patent-pending features, amazingly realistic 3D rendered animations and an engaging tale combine to make this slot one of our most masterful cre- ations to date. The slot went live on the second day of ICE and to celebrate we even produced a real-life replica of the sword and the stone, which was on show in the gallery area at the Microgaming Bar.


The Microgaming Bar, next door to our stand, was a talking point at ICE thanks to the striking and attention-grabbing props; a museum of Microgaming’s most cherished content. Who can forget the eye-catching Terminator centred in the gallery? A sign of things to come, having signed a licensing agreement with studiocanal S.A to pro- duce an online slot based on the massive block- buster and sci-fi thriller, Terminator 2, due out later this year.


In addition to the Terminator, an original Playboy bunny suit, Batman and Bane’s original costumes worn in The Dark Knight Rises movie, Thor’s Hammer from Thunderstruck II and the Immortal Romance door knocker were on display.


Another highpoint of the show which saw thou-


sands of attendees stop in awe and flock to social media was the seven metre animatronic dinosaur that roamed the boulevard outside of entrance N5! The larger-than-life display represented our recent licensing agreement with Universal Partnerships & Licensing for Jurassic Park, one of the biggest film trilogies in motion picture history. Fans (and there are many!) of the franchise can look forward to reliving the adventures with a rip-roaring online slot game coming this summer.


They say things come in threes, and during the hus- tle and bustle of the first day we announced our third licensing agreement, for the award-winning and epic HBO television series, Game of Thrones. The series is a favourite among critics and has acquired a broad and active fan base that has made the show one of HBO’s most popular series of all time. The show’s intricate plot and fantastical themes will take centre stage in our adaptation, set to be released in 2014. It’s fair to say, we’re giving our operators and their players, plenty to look for- ward to this year!


Last, but certainly not least, ICE lent itself perfectly to unveil our vision for the future, taking the most innovative of technologies and putting it into the world of online gaming. Word spread quite quickly of our ‘Immersion Room’ and it’s not surprising why. In a softly lit room with relaxing, reclined chairs, visitors were immersed into the future. First, the wonders of Augmented Reality set the scene, followed by a fully functional The Dark Knight Rises online slot on a wrist watch. The up-and- coming virtual reality display Oculus Rift was the final spectacle which saw attendees fully absorbed within a 40 foot slot game with interactive charac- ters and realistic animations - jaw-dropping stuff! So, with another ICE over… I guess it’s time to start planning the next!”


Gaming Partners International was founded in 1923 as Bourgogne et Grasset by Etienne Bourgogne and Claudius Grasset in Beaune, France to produce and sell counterfeit-resistant chips to casinos in Monaco. While copiers have tried throughout the intervening decades to counterfeit casino chips, GPI's jetons, pro- duced in the 1920s, have never been replicated, nor has its plaques, which began production a few decades later. So specialised are the materials used in the production of its jetsons and so complicated the production that it makes the reverse engineering process used by counterfeiters to copy chips, practi- cally impossible.


So difficult is the production process, even for the manufacturer, that is was initially thought that GPI would be unable to produce an American-style chip with the properties of a jeton - that was until the cre- ation of the J3. “Aside from the smaller dimensions, one of the issues we had to overcome was the cre- ation of side decals with which dealers deem value,” explained GPI's Kirsten Clark at ICE. “The J3 gives operators all the functionality of an American-style casino chip with the beautiful detailing and security features of a jeton. If you look at casino currency over the years, not much has changed since Bourgogne et Grasset created those chips for the Monaco casinos, but the J3 is a whole new product. This is a casino chip that can't be replicated by plastic injection moulding techniques. We’re really excited about this product and have customers in Macau and the US excited about it too.”


One of the major innovations that has allowed J3 to occupy the same space as a regular casino chip is the embedding of laser-track into the edge insert of the J3. “We developed the ability to add laser-track into the J3 to be able to quickly validate each chip,” stated Ms. Clark. “The practical limitation of jetsons until now has been the necessity to validate them one-by- one. The inclusion of laser-track into the edge insert speeds up the whole validation process. It means that we are able to combine staff-theft detection with the J3, with the inclusion of detection gates preventing dealers from removing chips from the floor.”


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