Bandai Namco: Sifting through the noise

James Anderson Bandai Namco redemption
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BNAE is sifting through the noise of a saturated redemption market to bring forward the very best products and peripherals for operators and players alike, comments commercial and sales director, James Anderson.


Coinslot: What innovations are driving redemption forward and what kind of impact are they having on the operational side of the business?

James Anderson: “With redemption becoming a bigger part of the FEC makeup, it pays to have the best peripherals to streamline your operation. With the Embed stock management system (REDPRO) it allows the operator to manage not only the quick and easy servicing of the players needs, but also makes productive use of their own time by allowing a plethora of reports that identify trends of slow or fast moving products. This keeps a closer track on their inventory and maximises profits by cutting back on shrinkage.”

CS: 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?

JA: “The market is undoubtedly very strong but is overwhelmed with products at all ranks. We aim to sift through the noise and bring the very best products to the market, working alongside top-rate suppliers including Raw Thrills, Adrenaline, Andamiro and TKM. We test extensively and give feedback to our partners that allow them to refine their products to give the best experience for players and the best return on investment for operators.

“The use of e-tickets is a welcome feature for players and operators alike and aside from multiple cashless system benefits, at the very least you can make some significant savings on paper tickets.”

CS: You’ve invested a great deal in redemption over the years, which of your products are resonating with the market, and why?

JA: “We’ve had many successful products over the years, but some key highlights have been our DC Pusher, Space Invaders Frenzy and Spinner Frenzy. The latter was brought to market during the overwhelming peak in popularity of the fidget spinner, and so you’d expect Spinner Frenzy may have dwindled in popularity alongside the trend. However, the game is a brilliant standalone in contrast to the fad that it was born from and still selling very well today.”

CS: What are your plans for the redemption market over the coming year or two?

JA: “We won’t yet reveal the exciting things on the table and in development at BNAA HQ, but there’s certainly a lot to anticipate.”

CS: Simple question: what makes a good redemption unit?

JA: “That all depends on your audience but appealing to a wide demographic is of course a winning solution. Competitive content always stirs up enough appeal to engage customers and also drive repeat plays. Many of our most successful games have sport, teamwork and competition at their core.”

CS: With an increasingly tech and trend savvy audience, how do you ensure this is reflected in the prize offering?

JA: “We always intend to not only keep up with the latest trends and technology but as industry leaders, we strive to provide trends predicting product progression with innovative creations. Our new PAC-MAN Wireless Speaker Phone Charger and Light has been a #1 anticipated product already topping global sale expectations. Not only is it a phone charger but it triples up as both a glowing desk light and a speaker using NFTC technology. Bringing such a multi-use product to market eliminates a lot of inconveniences for the user whose needs have all been tackled with tenacity in the smart design of this new product.”

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.

JA: “This all comes down to the strength of the game. Often players will come to the arcade for an experience, something different than what they can achieve at home. This is why new products like TKM’s Ball Madness have made such an impact – seeing friends and family in excitable panic whilst trying to deliver on a task in a game has always been enjoyable to watch and engage in – it provides fun memories and great talking points. These physical aspects are evident in all forms of entertainment from game shows to theme parks. There are exceptions to this, for example RabbiDs and Ladders is most definitely categorised as non-physical but with such a strong IP and a clear objective to the game, it provides great appeal and consequently income has been substantial.”

CS: How have you perceived the rise of cashless payment solutions affecting the redemption market?

JA: “Whilst cash is still very much part of the industry, cashless payments have become a huge and necessary part of it keeping in step with progression in society. Cashless is giving the operator the ability to expand and enhance their business in ways a purely cash-based operation cannot. This system offers bonuses to promote more return on a higher top up, which in turn encourages a higher spend per head – indisputably beneficial for both parties. Pricing is flexible and can work in sync with times of lower footfall to encourage trade during quieter times.”

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?

JA: “Licensing is important and worth considering when creating a new game for market. The right brand on a game can add value due to instant recognition from players aided by the vast marketing budgets of the brand owners. Our best-selling VR experience to date is Mario Kart VR, and equally one of our strongest and most consistent arcade machines over time has been Mario Kart Arcade GP Dx, no doubt due to its globally recognised IP.

“This is also evident in our plush ranges and prize offerings – licences include PAC-MAN, DC Comics, Scooby Doo and Paddington bear. We make sure to supply a wide range of gift options to cover all bases in terms of trends, genres and ticket values.”

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