Amusement giants in Moscow

Bigger is better in the Russian amusement market as gaming takes a back seat for a change.

The consumer market in Russia continues to boom, and with it amusement centers and those connected to the enormous shopping malls are doing the same. Gambling, the once ‘golden child’ of the EELX show in Moscow, is losing its luster as the market struggles with new legislation, deep-seated political resentment and a lack of machine sales through non-certification problems, while the amusement market is looking increasingly attractive. Speaking to ODA, one of the few amusement-only distributors in the market, Boris Bartnitsky explained that large arcade pieces, such as the Sega distributed Cycraft simulator, were now perfect for this growing  market. “The owners of the family entertainment centres in Russia are interested in such large scale pieces,” said Mr. Bartnitsky. “In Russia, operators want equipment that is out-of-the ordinary, and they ’re prepared to pay for it. The cost is coincidental, with this machine and many of the deluxe Sega products, there are Russian regions where operators only want to buy brand new machines.

These regions are the oil producing areas of the country where the cost makes no difference to them,” Asked what effect the non-licensing of gaming devices was having on the amusement market, Mr. Bartnitsky   said: “It’s too early to say about the licensing now, but it could certainly help boost amusement further. The value of our sales continues to grow strongly in amusement. The market for gaming equipment in Russia is full. Operators are looking to alternatives and are starting to deal in entertainment product and are seeing the real value of amusement. Previously, we sold only second-hand games, but have started to sell brand new machines to the extent that the UK and Russian video game markets are comparable right now. Games, such as outrun have proved very successful in Russia, though again, it’s the deluxe models that are popular with the very largest screens. ”

AGT and 5nicum cement their development bond

Having signed the deal in November to deliver Ainsworth games to Unicum under licence, AGT Europe’s Geog Steiner was eager to underline at the EELEX show that the Australian slot manufacturer’s deal with its Russian distributor made perfect sense. “Why ship boxes across continents?” questioned Mr. Steiner. “For AGT this is a logical solution with a partner we trust implicitly. And while we reinforce the fact that we are a slot manufacturer, not a software provider with the new 26ins. Ambassador SL and excellent penetration of Celebrity in the Russian market, we must also seek out new opportunities. Unicum’s new Sensation is one such example, where their games can run on our platform, and our games on their. It’s the future of business in this market. Both the Celebrity SL and Ambassador SL will be shown at the ICE show this month, with a mass of new games taking advantage of the new platforms. “We are utilizing the greater graphics performance with six new poker games making their European premiere at ICE,” said Mr. Steiner. This is a key launch for us and our expectation for the both Ambassador and Celebrity are high. ”

Aristocrat to sue IGT over patents

Protecting a market that has seen annual net profit more than triple in 2005, aristocrat Leisure is suing US-based gaming company, International  Game Technology (IGT), for breach of patent over its video slot technology. The Sydney-based company has launched legal action against IGT through its Las Vegas - based subsidiary, aristocrat Technologies. Aristocrat alleges IGT infringed a patent on its Reel Power video slot technology, a game based 243 winning combinations. Aristocrat has monopoly damages ’ for the company’s unauthorized use of the technology in its multiway, or ‘243 Ways to Win ’ slot game.

It’s not often that the Managing Director of Austrian Gaming industries, Jens Halle, chase the press at a gaming exhibition. Usually it’s the other way around. But at the EELEX show in Moscow, a livid Mr. Halle escorted us from stand to stand pointing out the copies of AGI pokker games and hardware on display. One-to-one copies of the Gaminator cabinet had been turned to face the wall on the Igromatic stand, though Mr. Halle remained furious that they had not been removed from the hall. “The greatest problem in this country is the copies,” said Mr. Halle. “Hardware, software, everything! We can’t allow this to continue. We won’t accept it from the trade show organizers allowing these companies to exhibit copies of our products at their shows. We won’t stand for it when magazines advertise these products in their pages. We won’t support the. ” Pictured left is the Shark Land copy of AGI’s Sharky game, which was available for sale within a stone’s throw of the Octavian/CATS stand at EELEX. Fortunately, all this copying of games has not blunted the sales of the originals too much, as AGI, with its distributors, CATS, Fortuna and GameOne, recorded the best year ever for the Austrian manufacturer in Russia. “With Octavian and CATS we managed to double our sales expectations for the year,” said Mr. Halle. “2005 has been the best ever year for AGI in all markets. In Russia, we have found the right games, but while we have signed big orders, everything depends on the law and attempts to work together to stop the copies that are rife in Russia. We will always stay one step ahead thanks to our constant R&D, and we’ll always provide something new. Expect a new platform and cabinet at the ICE show in London that will make the competition stand to attention!”

Astra Games, part of the Novomatic Group of Companies, has announced the completion of a deal with Adrian Whitter of Adante Creative Solutions for the exclusive supply of advertising and design services. Adrian Whitter has spent the last nine years in the industry, originally in the marketing department of Maygay machines and latterly at Revolution Entertainment. He said of his appointment, “I am extremely pleased to be working with the team at astra holdm games and look forward to becoming involved in a number of exciting projects which are currently underway for ATEI and beyond. ”

Perfect pictch

The pre-launch of a Atronic’s new Harmoney platform and cabinet took place in Moscow at a EELEX.

The pre-launch of Atronic International’s new Harmoney cabinet and platform took place at the EELEX show in December. The successor to Atronic’s hugely successful Cashline range, Harmony slots beneath the company’s high- end  e-motion machine, but at the same time benefits from much improved graphics and speed, ergonomics of the new cabinet, functionality and appealing game designs. The big launch of Harmoney is reserved for the ICE show in London, but the Russian preview was fitting as the cabinet will, like the Cashline, be assembled in St. Petersburg by unicum for the Russian and CIs markets. Having visited the St. Petersburg facility just before the EELEX event, Atronic’s Sylvia Dietz, explained that the assembly of Harmony in Russia would meet the strict quality standards set by Atronic, with game design supplied solely by Atronic for the new platform. “Harmony is the successor to Cashline and distinct in the same way that e-motion is distinct as the high-end, sophisticated  platform suitable for linked gaming concepts,” explained Ms. Dietz. There won’t be the same two games for Harmony and e-motion, whereby we shall clearly separate the games for the two platforms. ” Six Harmony games were on show at EELEX with four more games ready in time for the ICE launch, and a further eight games for Harmony are in the works. The new platform offers all the functionality expected in the hi-tech gaming environment, with auto-play, multi-denomination, TITO, systems compatibility, Russian, English and Cantonese language options.

  In fact, the platform capabilities are very close to e-motion, certainly in terms of connectivity. However, the products design, games and price will be markedly different and Atronic will continue to offer its Cashiline range. Cashline, Harmony and e-motion will offer three levels of slot products, with Atronic continuing to support Cashline with new games. And while the pre-launch of Harmony took place on the Unicum stand at EELEX, the Atronic Russia stand showed the latest system and link solutions for the latest system and link solutions for the Russian market. Atronic Russia was developed as a company to concentrate on systems and not those products traditionally distributed by Unicum in Russia. “The linked progressive, cash Fever, has been an instant hit in Russia,” stated Atonic Russia’s max Matveyko in Moscow. “One of our large customers has committed to eight installations during the last six months, and we have several other large operators interested in the product. We’re also installing a second bank of machines for Money Mania, the first installation was in September and the second in December with two different gaming halls.

Russian operators are really excited about this product, which is driving more and more players to the e-motion platform. ” Atronic Russia has also begun to promote Atronic System’s Tournamania and Casino GEMS, which is based on Crystal WEB hardware, with software developed in cooperation with Holland Casino. “Casino GEMS is an excellent all-in-one solution, where operators benefit from the functionality of both accounting and jackpots in one economical package,” said Mr. Matvekyo. “It is a great opportunity for operators to move into the systems market without a huge outlay, but with the all the functions they need. ” Mr. Matvekyo also looks forward to the introduction of Atronic’s eMillions as one to the company’s major products in 2006.