Skill-Based Games Off Caesars Casino Floors in Atlantic City, But Still On Caesars’ Mind

[toc]Those predicting the death of skill-based slot machines at Caesars casinos in Atlantic City may have jumped the gun.

Admittedly, it did not look great when the casino company pulled the skill-based machines from the floor earlier this month. It turns out Caesars is nowhere close to throwing in the towel on the concept of video game gambling machines (VGMs) though.

GameCo on a six-month Caesars trial

The first GameCo skill-based slots appeared on the floor of Caesars, Bally’s, and Harrah’s back in December. For the past six months, Danger Arena was available for Atlantic City customers to try out. A second game, Pharaoh’s Secret Temple, rolled out shortly after that. GameCo is one of the brands at the forefront of the skill-based gaming market.

These games differed from standard slots because there was an element of skill to playing. Pharaoh’s Secret Temple is a puzzle game, similar to Bejeweled or Candy Crush. Danger Zone, on the other hand, was a first-person shooter game, where a player’s skill with the joystick can influence their winnings.

Pharaoh’s Secret Temple seemed to be performing on par with other slots, but Danger Arena possibly proved to be too intimidating for players to try. Given the lackluster performance, it was not surprising the VGMs disappeared from Caesars casino floors a couple of weeks ago.

Caesars still 100 percent committed to VGMs

John Brennan of recently reported the disappearance of the two GameCo games is just a temporary setback for Caesars.

Melissa Price, senior vice president of gaming enterprises for Caesars Entertainment, said at the recent East Coast Gaming Congress and said the company is still “100 percent committed” to developing skill-based slots.

GameCo CEO Blaine Graboyes elaborated on the process at the conference as well:

“It’s all about being in the right market with the right spot on the floor, the right marketing, and the right advertising support. No one knows what the magic mix is yet. We’re a tech company, so we’re all about experimenting. We’ve manufactured 100 machines so far, and they need to be in places where they’re going to perform optimally.”

Caesars will soon unveil another GameCo game, Space Invaders. The manufacturer also has several other titles in the works, including games based on Star Trek.

GameCo also has several games available at Tropicana, including a new basketball game. The Nothing But Net game is performing well, per Brennan. The machines should be appearing at Borgata soon as well.

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Cracking the VGM code proving the be difficult

Part of the reason casinos are not giving up on the VGM concept so quickly is the hope it can lure the elusive millennial generation to slots. GameCo already secured $10 million in funding. The company is currently trying to drum up another $20 to $30 million. Both the manufacturer and the casinos agree the process inevitably requires a lot of trial and error.

For example, Graboyes concedes Danger Arena probably overemphasized the skill component of VGMs, hence why customers were too intimidated to play. The actual casino experience is also something difficult to replicate in testing. After all, there is a big difference between playing a video game in your living room and trying to figure a new game out in the middle of a casino with people watching.

For GameCo, and Caesars for that matter, the hope is to find the right balance sooner rather than later.

About the Author

Jessica Welman

Jessica Welman is a longtime member of the poker media and online gambling world. She has worked as a tournament reporter for the World Poker Tour, co-hosted a podcast for Poker Road, and served as the managing editor for Welman has been involved for livestreams for the WSOP and WPT and worked as a consultant on many other poker productions. She can be found on Twitter @jesswelman.