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Best of John Grochowski
Giving slot players a choice17 January 2012
When it comes to game design, I'm always on board with giving players choices. Whether we're talking the strategy options inherent in video poker, the choice of bonus event packages that come with the decision to defend or attack earth in WMS Gaming's Attack From Mars/Revenge From Mars slots or the chance to choose volatility in games such as Incredible Technology's Magic Touch line, letting the players have it their way enhances the casino experience.
That volatility choice is on its way toward becoming a mini-trend as video slots continue to evolve even after they've taken over the largest floor space in modern casinos. Incredible Technologies, a newcomer to the casino industry, has been the innovator, and established companies have been following suit.
One slotmaker trying to put its own stamp on volatility choice games is Spielo International, which has stepped outside the newly constructed box with its Goldify slot machine.
Incredible Technologies games, such as Money and Fish Store, let the player choose "win big," "win steady" or "win often." International Game Technology words it differently on The Twilight Zone, offering a choice of high, medium or low volatility. Either way, they're asking players whether they want the best chance at a big win, with the tradeoff of fewer small wins and the possibility of rapid losses, whether they'd rather have a game that keeps them at the machine with more small wins but a reduced chance of the big one, or something in between.
Goldify goes about the volatility choice in its own way. It has a classical Greek theme, with symbols including Spartan helmets, Pegasus and lyres. The winning combinations for each symbol are going to show up with the same frequency regardless of your volatility choice.
What changes isn't the frequency of wins, it's the value of wins. You can touch a symbol on the screen to quintuple its value. Goldify the helmet, and any helmet wins pay five times their normal value. Goldify Pegasus instead, and the helmet goes back to normal pays while the supernatural steed's value soars.
"There are a lot of choose-your-volatility games out there, and we feel like we have a version where it is the simplest, most fun and most intuitive one to play," product marketing manager Mike Brennan said. "The Spartan hat usually pays 10 credits; touch him, he pays 50.
"If the players want the kind of an experience where their small wins are going to be bulked up and they're going to be chugging along, they're going to Goldify a lower symbol. If they're thinking 'I know she doesn't hit a lot, but when she hits she's going to pay,' they're going to Goldify a higher-paying symbol and have a really volatile game."
There are nine symbols overall, and players can choose any of eight. The ninth is a wild symbol that can't be Goldified.
Spielo International, formerly known as Spielo/Atronic, isn't as big a force as slot giants IGT, WMS, Bally or Aristocrat, but has had a number of player favorites under the Atronic brand. Sphinx has drawn strong play in several incarnations, and the Deal or No Deal slot line has been a big success for the company.
The new three-tiered progressive video slot Cash Eruption, which plays "Hot, Hot, Hot" while the volcano blows in a bonus event, figures to draw attention, too.
BONUS VOLATILITY: While Incredible Technologies, IGT and Atronic let players choose volatility on the main games, others are easing into the option by putting the choice on bonus events.
Aruze's Amazon Fishing is one. In a fishing contest bonus event played out on a giant screen overhead, you can choose to use a worm and go for lots of small fish — low volatility — or use a lure to try to land the big ones — high volatility.
The volatility bonus is a path Bally had taken a little earlier with its U-Spin game, Hot Pick. There are six levels of volatility available for trips to a bonus wheel. Those levels are represented by reel symbols. You can touch a single bar for the lowest volatility, with the most frequent bonus events and the lowest totals on the wheel. Touch a Wild symbol instead, and watch the numbers on the wheel change as the game shifts into the highest volatility level. Of you can choose 5-bar or various 7 symbols to pick a level in between.
And two years before going all in on volatility choice with The Twilight Zone, IGT got its feet wet on a bonus event in the reel-spinning game Jolly Roger. Players choose how many free games they want and how much their bonus is multiplied. When I tried it out, I was offered five free games that multiplied winnings by 10, 10 games multiplied by five, 15 by three, or 20 by 2. Many chances at a low multiplier meant low volatility. Fewer chances at a bigger multiplier increased volatility — a chance at a really big hit, but also a greater chance of coming up empty.
The choice is ours.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best of John Grochowski