International Game Technology, the world's leading slot machine manufacturer, intends to send a message this week to its competitors when it features 150 new games at the Global Gaming Expo Conference in Las Vegas.
"We want to defend our place in the market," said Joe Kaminkow, IGT's vice president of game design.
The new slot machines - with themes ranging from Beetle Bailey and Gilligan's Island to The Twilight Zone and The Terminator _ represent IGT's biggest showcase of games at the expo, more than twice the number the Reno-based company rolled out last year.
The new product line could total close to $100 million in research and development costs, Kaminkow said.
"This is the biggest lineup of games IGT has ever offered at a casino industry trade show," said Ed Rogich, IGT's vice president of marketing.
The expo is the industry's largest trade show that offers gambling companies a look at the newest products. IGT's rivals, Aristocrat Technologies, Atronic Americas and Bally Gaming and Systems, also will be unveiling their latest slots.
The IGT machines build on the company's successful template of turning household names into gambling gold mines. The strategy remains the same this year with IGT showcasing Marilyn Monroe, Rodney Dangerfield and Austin Powers.
Other machines recently licensed by IGT include Star Wars, Animal House, Drew Carey, American Graffiti, Young Frankenstein, The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game and Dilbert. IGT has also revamped The Wheel of Fortune megajackpot, which helped transform the industry.
The Wheel of Fortune, along with other popular slot machines, lured people to the machines for their entertainment value as opposed to gambling.
Inside IGT headquarters last week, teams of designers and engineers hustled to put the finishing touches on the games after weeks of long hours. Kaminkow said his team started with scores of game ideas and whittled down the list to 150.
About 65 percent of the games idea are original, not from movies or television shows, Kaminkow said. Each machine takes hundreds of hours and up to 14 months to move from drawing board to casino floor. The software, video and audio aspects of the machines are developed at IGT.
The company also uses Advanced Video Platform that allows it to produce movie-quality videos for its machines.
All of this adds up to a slew of impressive machines, Kaminkow said.
"We have an incredible array of new products to show off," Kaminkow said. "Not just in sheer numbers, but also in terms of the strength of the themes and the innovative features our game designers are building into them."
IGT is enjoying some of its greatest financial success. The company announced another quarter of record earnings in July with net income of $103 million, its 14th consecutive quarterly increase.
The new machines should ensure those quarterly increases continue and IGT maintains its grip on the industry, according to industry expert Frank Legato.
"The manufacturer will not abdicate its slot throne ... any time soon," Legato wrote in the latest issue of Global Gaming Business.
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International Game Technology:http://www.IGT.com