As the wheels of the 737 touched down on the tarmac at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, I felt the anticipation of the week ahead of me. I was coming to Sin City for the first time in my life, and my goal was to attend the Global Gaming Expo (G2E), an industry tradeshow where all of the newest gambling games and technology are put on display. I had several questions running through my head in regards to the gaming industry, and this three-day event certainly helped to shed light onto what the future of this sector is.
Big Time Experience
When I first walked into the Sands Expo Center, I was immediately overwhelmed by how large G2E was. I was expecting it to be large, but the scale of the show was beyond what my wildest dreams were. The booths in the hall take up nearly all of the 2.2 million square feet of floor space, and exhibitors take up everything from slot machines to table games, to the artwork that adorns all the gaming machines you see in a casino. This is complimented by the sounds of machines simulating large wins, music, and wild light shows taking place at the various developer booths. To say this is intense is an understatement, to say the least.
Although there are a number of companies present you've likely never heard of, there are also several heavy hitters present, giving us a look at their newest products that will be deployed over the next year or so. Examples of these companies include IGT, Konami, Ainsworth, Bally, Aristocrat, NYX, WMS, and many more. Land casino games are the main focus of these groups, but nearly all of them have ventured out to the online gambling industry as well, which could be seen on many of the desktop and mobile devices they had running games.
Impressions From the Floor
As I made my way from booth to booth, I was surprised to find that a major trend in the gaming industry is a move to target millennial gamblers. The idea is that younger gamblers don't much like playing slots, which are incredibly lucrative for casinos, so companies are looking for ways to bring those punters back through the doors.
These games include a variety of semi-skill based titles, such as Jetpack Joyride, Fruit Ninja, and a social bottle top match game wherein up to four players attempt to find certain caps in order to win cash prizes. Other items targeted at younger players include several virtual reality experiences, with even gaming giant IGT planning to offer tournaments to players for cash prizes.
I was also surprised to see how many of the employees from these gaming firms don't know that they have online casino games. I had three groups tell me that they didn't have an online division, and two told me they didn't have games online. When it came to the third group I asked, I was insistent that they did, but the rep insisted they didn't. I ended up searching for his company's online slots, and the first result was the company's page, while the second was Casino Listings, which offered its games for free play!
I was also surprised to see so many things that I considered strange, but really do play an important role in the gambling industry. Things such as slot machine buttons, light designers, silverware makers, and more were all present, and there were definitely attendees there that were in line to check out these products.
There is a lot to see at G2E, and the whole thing can easily get to you if you aren't prepared. The presentation by some of the larger groups is amazing, as there are light shows, celebrities, and a bunch of new games to try out. If you aren't in the industry, you won't likely get too much from the reps, as they are really only open to speaking to potential customers. Still, the event is something else to see, and I'm very happy to have been able to go and check out this great show.