Anarchy Reigns in Aristocrat Technologies’ Latest Release

Sons of Anarchy™ Slot Game, which has a 6×5 configuration, leverages the company’s VERVEhd™ cabinet, with high-definition graphics, 3D panoramic adjustable sound and an ergonomic design that enhances game play. It is the first of Aristocrat’s games to feature its groundbreaking Cluster Power™, which allows winning combinations formed by connecting the same symbol in clusters across multiple reels. Additionally, the game also offers a No Limits Jackpot feature that expands the reel area in any direction. That feature is awarded when a Big Jackpot Symbol lands and causes the reel area to grow to the size of the Big Jackpot Symbol. Three Big Jackpot Symbols award the Mini progressive; four Big Jackpot Symbols award the minor progressive; five Big Jackpot Symbols award the major progressive; and six Big Jackpot Symbols award the grand progressive. An additional free games bonus awards from 10 to 100 free games.
Sons of Anarchy™ Slot Game, which has a 6×5 configuration, leverages the company’s VERVEhd™ cabinet, with high-definition graphics, 3D panoramic adjustable sound and an ergonomic design that enhances game play. It is the first of Aristocrat’s games to feature its groundbreaking Cluster Power™, which allows winning combinations formed by connecting the same symbol in clusters across multiple reels. Additionally, the game also offers a No Limits Jackpot feature that expands the reel area in any direction. That feature is awarded when a Big Jackpot Symbol lands and causes the reel area to grow to the size of the Big Jackpot Symbol. Three Big Jackpot Symbols award the Mini progressive; four Big Jackpot Symbols award the minor progressive; five Big Jackpot Symbols award the major progressive; and six Big Jackpot Symbols award the grand progressive. An additional free games bonus awards from 10 to 100 free games.
A little anarchy can be a good thing…at least when it comes in the form of Aristocrat Technologies’ newest game based on the FX Network hit show “Sons of Anarchy.”

Aristocrat’s new Sons of Anarchy™ Slot Game, based on the FX Network’s Golden Globe® winning “Sons of Anarchy,” will debut in casinos next month. The multi-site progressive game offers new ways to play and win and a chance to land a $500,000-plus jackpot.

Aristocrat is betting that its latest title will capture similar success to The Walking Dead slot game the company released last year, said Dallas Orchard, vice president of gaming operations, Aristocrat Technologies.

“The popularity of the television show has been tremendous, and that was very attractive to us. The second thing is we have a great innovation studio here called Studio 54 and they’ve brought us great products like Tarzan and The Walking Dead under the leadership of Ted Hase,” Orchard said. “That group is always looking for edgy concepts and to create something different and add a little edge to the [casino] floor.”

There’s a risk to trying to bring dramatic titles such as The Walking Dead and Sons of Anarchy to slot games, Orchard said, while adding, “We believe we’ve got a really well-balanced portfolio now and we have the opportunity to allow Ted and the innovation studio to take a few chances.”

The two games are very different, Orchard said of the game likely to debut first in Nevada or California. “The commonality in them we’re really trying to go after something different, perhaps bringing to the casino floor a slightly younger demographic or bringing in fans of the show who wouldn’t normally play slots.”

The game features the gritty show’s characters, including Jax, Gemma and Clay, and touchpoints to the show’s storyline. “The mechanics of the game, the features of the game, the characters of the game are things I think the fans of ‘Sons of Anarchy’ will love, and if they’ve been fans of Let’s Make a Deal, Tarzan, Walking Dead—those volatile games of Studio 54—we have no doubt that hardcore slot players will really love the Sons of Anarchy game, and maybe as an added benefit they’ll become fans of the show itself.”

Sons of Anarchy will be the first game using Cluster Power.

“We’re extremely excited about Cluster Power. Cluster Power really is doing two things for us. It’s changing the way we pay the player by making sure that if the symbols [are] on adjacent reels, you pay them in a cluster rather than lines or reels,” Orchard said. “But it’s also bringing to life the symbol hierarchy that are the characters in Sons of Anarchy themselves. These are the stars of the show so you will be really looking for those key characters and those key story lines within the show itself bringing it to life.”

The company also plans to ensure it rolls out with strong marketing. “It will be a fully packaged theme; it will have a great marketing kickoff with excellent giveaways. We’re producing Sons of Anarchy helmets and giving those out to our customers and using social media at the show,” Orchard said.

In addition, the game is on Aristocrat’s Verve cabinet, with the $500,000 progressive link, and uses the massive portrait space on the Verve cabinet for the expanding reels feature. “It’s very feature rich, really using that portrait screen to bring in the player, making sure the characters are coming to life through the way we cluster pay and then also through Aristocrat’s traditional content, really having the volatility in there in the base game itself for the player makes sure there’s a winning experience.”

In addition to talking game specifics, Orchard also touched on the question that’s been on the minds of many slot operators: Can games such as Sons of Anarchy help address the concern over the need to reach out to younger casino visitors in new ways?

“We don’t think it can hurt and we have seen some incremental evidence of some younger demographics playing The Walking Dead, and we’ve done some research with some of our customers that suggests that,” Orchard said. “We’re always looking for those edgier licenses that we think reach out to a slightly different demographic and bring incremental play to the casino floor.”

He also believes that coveted younger demographic will get there in due time as it ages, he said.

“Not everybody likes wine at a young age, but, as you get older, you develop a taste for it,” Orchard said. “The problem is we’re competing with the restaurants, nightclubs and shows for everybody’s dollars, and so we’re doing everything we can to compete.”

What are some of the hallmarks that Aristocrat uses when it comes to developing a game around a licensed television show or other entertainment brands?

In the case of Sons of Anarchy, Orchard said the brand comes with “great development and great depth.” Sometimes, slot manufacturers make the mistake of implementing an entertainment-licensed brand with a so-so game behind it, Orchard said. To be successful he stressed, “You have to do right by the license, [and] the game still has to be great.”

Among other entertainment licenses the company recently acquired is one for the hit television sitcom “Big Bang Theory,” a move that Orchard believes holds strong potential.

“Big Bang Theory is one we’re very excited about because I think that reaches out to a multiple cross function of demographic. It’s just so popular, and it reaches out to so many different demographics,” he said, hinting the company is also on the verge of signing yet another license that looks equally as promising.

Aristocrat has invested heavily in not only pursuing great brands, but also in recruiting talented game designers such as Hase, Joe Kaminkow, Dan Marks and Nicholas Bennett to develop a wide swath of game types.

“What we’ve really tried to do is show our diversity and make sure we demonstrated we have the best talent in the industry. We want to make sure our portfolio is really well done and builds on the strengths of all our different game designers,” providing something for everyone on the casino floor, Orchard said. “And I think that’s what you saw with the Helix, which is our mainstream cabinet, and you saw it [also] supporting Verve, Wonder Wheels and the new Double Arc cabinet and the Behemoth cabinets.”

That, coupled with the recent acquisition of Class II powerhouse Video Game Technologies, has made for a winning combination, he said. “It’s just a perfect mix. You see some of these other acquisitions going on and the promise of hundreds of millions of dollars of synergies. We’re not looking to cut costs,” but instead are seeking to enhance and expand upon each company’s strengths in both Class II and Class III markets.

As the company continues to broaden its portfolio, one thing at Aristocrat remains steadfastly the same, Orchard said. “We want our customers to rest easy that we’re still staying true to our roots; we’re still designing great Aristocrat proprietary low-denomination, high-volatility games, and we’ve got 61 years of experience in that field, and we’ll always stay true to that side of our portfolio,” he said. “The exciting part now is all these things are additions, and we’re diversifying our product line, and we’re well-positioned to take larger percentages of casino floors.”