In the ever-the-more competitive redemption market new releases need to earn their place in the mix, leading to a culture of constant, positive, innovation comments Harry Levy’s new sales manager Steve Vardy.
Coinslot: Redemption has been one of the defining products in the amusements sector over the past few years, how do you see the marketplace developing in 2020?
Steve Vardy: “We are certain that the redemption market will continue to grow in importance in the UK. It is the strongest machine sector within FECs at the moment and we anticipate this situation continuing in 2020 and beyond. Redemption is a great investment, each new machine becomes part of an overall mix, which strengthens the arcade offer and the machines can stay on site for a good length of time, offering an excellent return. Most importantly, kids and their families love to play them together, which is what our business is all about.”
CS: What innovations are driving this genre forward and what kind of impact are they having on the operational side of the business?
SV: “This is a competitive marketplace when it comes to machines. Therefore, new games need to earn their place in the mix. Whether this involves new technology which can add something to the gameplay, or a new spin on a favourite game style – successful games add something that makes them attractive to the player in order to keep their visit to the FEC or arcade fresh and exciting.”
CS: You’ve invested a great deal in redemption over the years, which of your products are resonating with the market, and why?
SV: “Since the introduction of ticket redemption payout as a feature to our coin pushers, the performance has been very strong. Our new six-player Butterfly pusher has been very well received on the back of some other excellent pushers. Not only is it extremely eye-catching with the massive butterfly- shaped top box, it also has some interesting additional features which keep players entertained. For example, there is a super bonus feature when all the letters of the word BUTTERFLY are lit, as well as an exciting hi/lo feature. Orders for this model have been extremely strong, since ACOS last year when customers first saw it.”
CS: What are your plans for the redemption market over the coming year or two?
SV: “We are always looking for new games from our international suppliers, as well as developing our own manufactured products. We have some great games in the pipeline for later this year.”
CS: Simple question: what makes a good redemption unit?
SV: “Interactive games that involve multiple players, with a physical or mechanical feature are always the best in my opinion. Players want to stomp, bash, drop, bounce, hit or whatever the interaction might be – because it’s fun. Then they want to see how the redemption machine reacts to that. The secret to success is that the game appears tantalizingly simple to the player – so they are sure that they can achieve the objective even if in reality it requires more skill.”
CS: Creeping regulation is an on-going issue for the industry, do you see this a viable threat to the redemption sector and what message needs to go back to government about how important – a safe – redemption is?
SV: “Redemption is about fun and entertainment and that is the message that our industry strives to get across. Sometimes it’s clear that press and regulators don’t really understand what is involved. However, anyone visiting an FEC or arcade and seeing a child exchange their tickets for a small toy or sweets can see that it is a form of fun retailing.”
CS: How important is the physical engagement, and excitement factor for redemption units, especially viewed in the context of smart phones, tablets, video games at home etc.
SV: “This is a key aspect for the success of games. We need to offer something the customer can’t do at home on their phone or Xbox. This is why we often see games with an electromechanical aspect do really well in arcades. Kids love to interact physically and to see actual objects dropping, flipping or bouncing as a result of their actions. It is more real and exciting than when it happens on screen.”
CS: How have you perceived the rise of cashless payment solutions affecting the redemption market?
SV: “Cashless is growing in everyday life and business, but I think it’s still some way off in amusements. We need to be wary of it, and we need to do everything we can within the locations to offer cash by either ATMs, or contactless payment as well. Contactless payment directly on games is difficult as you can’t offer it on every game, due to it being illegal on the like of cranes, so it sends a confusing message to the player.”
CS: Today’s youth is increasingly brand-focused and tech-savvy. Is there an onus to develop machines and swag to reflect this? Be it in licensing, use of touch screens on machines etc?
SV: “We have seen great success of our games with the endorsement of strong brands and licenses. We have had best sellers with Minions, Tom & Jerry, Looney Tunes to mention a few. The player lives in the modern world where they are surrounded by branding, so it definitely helps the appeal of a game if it carries a good licence.”