Getting the Right Mix

With a great selection of hardware available for gaming venues, how do you pick a range of products that will guarantee performance and drive revenue? Reuben Gune says just picking a popular gaming product isn’t enough.

The gaming market is constantly evolving. Venue managers, among the other tasks they have on-hand, have to keep abreast with what’s in and what’s not, and decide if a certain product is the right fit for their venue and target market.

There is no perfect mix of gaming hardware in a venue but Tabcorp’s Product Deployment Analyst, Reuben Gune’s, advice is to not aim for a predetermined mix of cabinets: “Instead, allow the gaming floor to evolve into what can be described as offering an optimal mix of product.”

According to Gune, there are three key factors to consider when aiming for this optimal mix: manufacturers’ performance, gaming venue growth strategies and manufacturers’ product pipeline.

Manufacturer performance is a reliable driver for cabinet selection. Historically, and not surprisingly, there is a substantial correlation between manufacturer performance and market share for particular models of cabinets. Strong performance leads to a growing share, while poor performance leads to a decline.

Where there is a standout manufacturer in the marketplace, patron demand for its products will be high. It is at this point where great care needs to be taken to ensure a venue can simultaneously capitalise on this demand and install the highly sought-after cabinet models while avoiding saturation.

According to Gune, it is also important to be mindful that “oversupply of any cabinet model will ultimately result in a large cabinet fleet and difficulty maintaining adequate game support over time”.

Another critical consideration is the individual strategies that venues are implementing to grow their gaming business. In an industry characterised by intense competition between venues, changing consumer preferences and a lack of differentiation between gaming floors of hotels and clubs, strategic product selection can be a crucial lever to achieve gaming growth.

In devising strategies, a venue should focus on specific performance measures. These may include patron demographics, patron spend, average bet and average time on a device, among others. When armed with strategies to take the gaming business forward, there will be a selection of products in the marketplace that are better suited than others.

It is vital for venues to develop growth strategies, understand the key performance measures that are being targeted and invest in the manufacturers who offer products that are consistent with goals. This will influence cabinet selection.

“For venues looking to create a visible point of difference in a local market where all competitors maintain a homogenous offering, feature cabinets are worth consideration,” says Gune. There are, however, some downsides to that. “The risks associated with feature cabinets have repeatedly been observed, where limited game support eventually results in an underperforming cabinet.”

Smaller venues limited by a lack of machine numbers will not have the ability to maintain a product offering with a large variety. For these venues, a focused approach using cabinets from the strongest-performing manufacturers will be the safest option. Larger venues with the flexibility to offer a wider variety of products should fully utilise this advantage.

With the aim of maximising variety, cabinet models from a broader range of manufacturers can be considered. For these businesses, the ability to target a complete range of market segments and offer a more extensive variety of product types will go a long way towards establishing a position of product leadership in the local market.

Last but not least, the quality of a manufacturer’s product pipeline is of great importance when investing in cabinets. Visibility on upcoming game releases provides venues with the opportunity to plan ahead, identify key products that will play a role in their growth strategies and align with the manufacturers whose products are best suited to their individual goals. Furthermore, a manufacturer’s product pipeline will also reveal the quality of future game support for a particular model of cabinet – the importance of which should never be underestimated.

Quality game support will ensure a cabinet continues to perform at a high level well into the future.

On occasions, even the most experienced and highly skilled venue manager will select a poorly performing game. With strong game support for that model of cabinet, choosing the wrong game will result in a temporary period of underperformance, after which a replacement game can be installed. A lack of game support, on the other hand, can leave a venue stranded with a poor-performing cabinet and no options for improvement.

Regardless of the aesthetic appeal, ergonomics and player comfort offered in newer cabinet models, Gune also states that a cabinet will only perform when a quality game is installed.

“While cabinets can be described as being the ‘attraction’, game content is ultimately what the patron will experience and enjoy,” he concludes.

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