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Kevin Smith

The Next Generation of Games

15 January 2001

For Next Generation Gaming, an independent online game developer, what has become a catch phrase in the technology world is a way of life. And the company is proving that it can continue to develop, design and produce the "next generation" of video slot machines.

The firm, a division of Sydney-based Next Generation Entertainment, is poised and eager for the launch of its newest breed of games.

"We were using the term next generation long before anyone else was," CEO Tony McAuslan said. "We really think these will change the way people view interactive slots."

McAuslan was somewhat tight-lipped about details of the games, which will officially be debuted at the International Casino Exhibition (ICE) in London later this month.

What he did say, though, was that the games are based from popular land based slots, which currently dominate Australian casinos.

"In Australia the slot player is more advanced than what you have in America," he said. "They are playing them with a higher rate of frequency, therefore you have to give them more to keep their business."

To this end, McAuslan said, developers in Australia were forced to add new elements to the slots.

"There are 200,000 slot machines in Australia," he said. "None of them are hand reel, they are all five reel video slots. Once the video slots were implemented we still had to make advancements, and that is where the second screen feature came into play."

With its cutting edge technology, Next Generation designed a slot with a second screen. McAuslan explained that once a player wins at the traditional slot, a second screen then comes up where another game is played. The advanced game designs involve pyramids or river rafts. They're still games of chance, since the law doesn't allow for games of skill, but the idea for the second screen games is to attract a more sophisticated sector of players.

"It is kind of like what you would see from a Play Station or something," McAuslan explained. "Many of the players were brought up playing those types of games and need more than the traditional slot machine to keep them playing."

While Next Generation continues to stay connected to land-based casinos, McAuslan admitted the main focus of the company is with the Internet. He said it is a relatively seamless transition, since his firm is the only independent studio.

Being an independent studio, the firm can design its programs without obligation to any propriety software system or "backend."

The system gives operators much more freedom with their sites.

"Our customers can migrate from one 'backend' to another as much as they want," McAuslan said. "They (the operators) aren't locked in to one 'backend' like they are with other design studios."

The newest line of games from Next Generation did have a limited viewing at a recent trade show it Las Vegas. Since then, other Next Generation partners have seen what the rest of the industry will get a glimpse of at London at the ICE show, and the response has been great.

"We are blowing people away when they see them," McAuslan said. "Everywhere I go, I don't see people doing what we are doing."

McAuslan said it is the combination of the Play Station type format and the advanced slots, which have those who have seen the games talking.

"People all over the world love these games."

And one thing Next Generation has learned over the years in the ever-changing technology world, is that you can't stand pat on your laurels. The company is already developing another generation of games for much later on down the road.

"The only way to stay ahead in this business is to keep pushing the envelope," McAuslan said. "3-D and multi-player games looks like that will be the next step of us."

McAuslan also said the company is busy developing games for personal digital assistant (PDA) devices such as Palm Pilots. He said the PDA platform versus mobile phones lends itself to more creativity for the games.

"There is a lot more you can do with PDAs than you can with cell phones," he said. "The next Palm Pilots will have full color and sound and will create more options for us."

McAuslan also said the company is busy developing games for interactive television.

Judging by the early returns from its newest line of games, it's safe to say that whatever route the company takes, it's a good bet that Next Generation Gaming will take the "next generation" of video slot machines to a whole new level.

The Next Generation of Games is republished from
Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith