The new year has opened with a statement of intent; the amusements and coin-op industry is ready for the challenge. EAG 2019 displayed the best of British last week with a strong balance of tried and tested, new developments and ground-breaking adventures. It was a confident start for the industry to what is going to be an interesting year ahead.
Any visitors to this year’s EAG could not have failed to recognise one of three things: firstly, redemption is definitely here to stay; secondly, though in its amusement infancy, VR is gaining ground; and thirdly, the amusement sector has a busy 2019 ahead.
With Wednesday overturning tradition and marking the busiest day of the event, suppliers and manufacturers alike built on the steady Tuesday opening to make sure that opportunities presented by April’s B2 legislative amendment and the growth of digital did not go unheeded.
“The show experience always has to be a good one,” said John White, CEO of exhibition owner Bacta. “In 2019 it certainly was.”
“For the rest of the year we will be reasserting what we’re really about as an industry; amusement and entertainment.”
Making that abundantly clear was the largest land mass at EAG, the Novomatic Group UK which delivered a 360 degree view on the strength of the industry. From its new launch Prismatic to redemption from Bulldog, it was a potent force on the floor.
In terms of trends, White was clearly proud of his trade association’s event and its pointers to the future.“I never saw any of the VR stands empty,” and walking round the ExCeL Centre it was sometimes hard to squeeze past the crowds queueing for a turn on Crown’s Beat Saber, or the VR experience offered by new entrants VEX and Hologate.
Though companies such as Instance Automatics observed VR has “a long way to go” before it can truly offer operators a hands-off experience without constant attendance, many manufacturers noted the potential in partnering VR with redemption, truly offering families something unavailable at home.
Though that could prove a profitable focus for the amusement industry, manufacturers and suppliers have plenty of new and exciting directions to focus on during the coming year.
Not only is April set to promise a widely positive uptick in customers following the FOBT stake cap, the industry will also look to embrace cashless technology, a key discussion item at the event, sure to yield results before EAG 2020.
With firms from CPI to Touch Tunes, Playsafe to Innovative Technologies all offering new ideas on responding to the partnership of contactless and gaming, the talk behind the scenes was very much how to embrace new customer payment habits.
“The way the industry utilises cashless technology over the coming 12 months will be fascinating to see at next year’s EAG,” noted White.
Though credit and debit card payment is limited in its applications for gaming by legislation, its future within the world of redemption could offer a further boost to the sector that undoubtedly ruled the floor at EAG 2019.
“Giving customers something for their money is really coming back into it,” noted Sam Coleman of JNC Sales, and with cranes, bowling games, ball-throwing products and shooters as far as the eye could see it was hard to disagree.
Whilst Bacta will be happy with their show; the star turn, the exhibitors, seemed equally content.