I'm still perusing the stacks of brochures and magazines I picked up from last weeks Global Gaming Expo.
The big news from IGT (other than server based gaming, and guaranteed play) seems to be the eBay themed machine, Indiana Jones, a new Star Wars, and a space saving version of the Wheel of Fortune UFO.
The eBay bank certainly took up the most space in their booth, and was eye catching in it's graphic simplicity and primary color palette that is the eBay logo. In a world of bells and whistles, the message here seems to be "less is more." Unfortunately, they followed that theme to a logical end, and made the game itself, well, rather boring.
As someone who spends a lot of time on eBay, I have to say the online auction virtual marketplace is anything BUT boring. The auction concept brings instant and constant excitement, an aspect the eBay slot machine game designers seemed to have missed entirely. There is no auction bonus round in this machine, one where your credits increase as eBayers bid up your items.
There is a community bonus -- which is essentially a "Group Play Free Spins Bonus" with wilds and scatter pays.
IGT describes the allure of this machine thusly: "There's instant brand recognition and an "I HAVE to play THAT game!" reaction when players see the eBay Video Slots game."
I'm not sure this is true, but the five machine bank is big, and if bigger is better, I will say the new machine is hard to ignore. I just think the game itself is a huge let-down.
On the subject of size, IGT has made it's giant UFO looking round Wheel of Fortune machine bank smaller. In their own words "A redesigned wheel and machine footprint means you have more space on your floor. Five player stations face a vertical eye-catching wheel, offering a social atmosphere with great attraction."
IGT is constantly reinventing the Wheel of Fortune machines, but I doubt any have proved as popular as the original quarter machine. If you read between the lines like I do, you might see "The big thing didn't perform as well as we all hoped, and have been vanishing from casino floors, here is our solution -- we are downsizing." As far as I'm concerned they need to make a version that doesn't require an 80 credit bet on the penny machines to be eligible for the big spins. Loosen up the wheel and you might get more players.
I'm not terribly excited about the new Star Wars or Indiana Jones machines. The graphics are great, but if they are anything like the Star Wars predecessors the bonuses will be extremely hard to get.
I'm not saying I won't test ride these machines when they hit the floor, but I seriously doubt any of them will hold my interest or capture my gambling money for long.
IGT has simply rested on their laurels for too long, and allowed their competition WMS to overtake them as arbiters of innovation.