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GAMECO


GameCo aiming for true skill gaming


GameCo wants to bring the real gamer into the casino with ‘slots’ that are fundamentally arcade machines, where the player’s skill affects the paytable 100 per cent. It’s a fascinating idea, and it’s already gaining traction.


I


t’s no secret that slot floors have been looking for something to reinvigorate the market, to bring in younger players and somehow keep them at machines the way the more traditional slot player has been.


Blaine Graboyes, GameCo CEO, has something quite different to what we have seen so far up his sleeve – arcade-style machines, played for money, where the player’s skill is arguably the most important facet of all. Blaine recently spoke with Casino International about their fascinating project.


Casino International: What does your gaming machine look like? Blaine Graboyes: We have a bill validator, a


TITO printer, in terms of the financial side it works just like a slot machine or EGM does. At the moment we are focussed on the idea of fixed incremental bets, we are finding that $3- $10 bets with a modicum of volatility seems to be a match for the market. We can create any paytable though, million dollar payouts or progressives – but right now we are focussed on paytables where perhaps you bet three dollars and the top win is $25, the next $15, $5, the lowest win is a percentage of your original bet so even if you’re not getting a big payout you are at least getting something back. The game experience is this: you walk up,


make your bet, there is little or no game configuration, we want people into the gameplay experience as quickly as possible. You play for 30-90 seconds; in a racing game, you might have, for example, three or four times to race on the same track to get the best time, with a payout based on your time; if it’s a first- person shooter, you might have 60 seconds to take out as many enemies as possible; a sports game maybe you have a set time to hit as many home runs as you can. We have a handful of genres we have been working on, with sports,


40 APRIL 2016


platformers, first-person shooters, puzzle games, classic games – a real range. Our portfolio will be a little weighted toward core games but will include casual games as well that tend to appeal more to female or older audience, in line with the existing slot audience.


CI: So… it’s more like a gaming experience


you might find in an arcade or family entertainment centre, in a way? BG: We make video games. The slot


experience does not appeal to gamers – they want to play video games. We are working on aspects of the game design that expand the experience even more to be like a console or PC game, where even though you are playing these short sessions, there is still a sense of story progression or narrative in the same way that console games provide. It’s not a fake bonus round with a small element of skill, it’s a skill video game and your skill really determines your payout.


CI: How long have you been around? BG: We are pretty new; we have been working on our products for about two years now but announced the company publicly at G2E in 2015. We are focussed on bringing video games to the casino environment, and for the UK and EU audience the street and pub venues as well. We have created a way to gamble playing video games at the casino or arcade; our products look like a mix between an arcade cabinet and a slot machine and feature a custom controller that we have designed for that environment, in partnership with SuzoHapp. We work with popular game publishers and developers to adapt their games for this new environment; the sort of games you might play on GameCo products are the same kind of games you would play on your Xbox or PC but adapted for both regulatory requirements, and the user


experience in the casino or arcade. CI: Will your games pass stringent


regulatory standards for, say, Nevada? BG: From a regulatory standpoint, we are building our products under the GLI 11 standard, the same one used for slot machines and electronic gaming machines; the advantage of this is that ultimately, our products can go anywhere that slots or EGMs exist today. We have been focussed on the US market so far, we have identified perhaps ten states that are priorities for us, but worldwide, GLI covers 400-plus jurisdictions and we could really be in any of those.


CI: What have you learned so far, wehile


you have been developing your games? BG: One of the things we found when we


started the project is that the slot business is very advanced, but it is also to a certain degree very commoditised in that you can buy most of the products off the shelf – cabinets, PCs, peripherals. We decided to focus on a few areas of innovation; we didn’t want to make new platforms, we didn’t want to require new legislation or regulation; our plan from the beginning has been to assemble a product from things that are already mostly approved, then add our innovation where it’s really unique and adds value, which in this case is the controller and the game itself. The controller is a part of the user experience, it’s also part of the attraction and promotion; as we have been testing this what we have been seeing is that for many players, the controller signifies video games. A player is going to be walking across the casino and will see a product with a controller that looks like their console at home, or like an arcade cabinet they grew up with, and we feel that is a big part of the attraction process to get people to try these new games.


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