September 14, 2021 Interview

A Foot In the Door


Robert Ziems, president of games developer Aruze, speaks with Henry Moore about automation, innovation and adapting to a new market.

Late last year, you launched some of your products in Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh and agreed partnerships with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Can you describe the process of making these inroads into the growing US market?

Aruze is in a significant number of jurisdictions already, meaning the process is fairly simple for us in that we have very good relationships with our existing customers throughout the country. Our product is well known, and despite us being a niche player, our products do well and are sought after. This means it’s a relatively smooth process for us.

The product you launched with the Seminole Tribe of Florida was a new fully automated dealerless version of Roll to Win craps. Do you see automation as something that will continue to have a greater place in the gaming industry? What do you think some of its main uses will be?

Yes and no in regards to automation. We use the tag phrase ‘active play’ for some of our products, and one of the things that Aruze focuses on is making sure our automated products, like our Shoot to Win craps, which is an electronic gaming table game, still have engagement by the player. On our Shoot to Win craps for example, players engage by actively initiating the dice roll.

I think automation is happening for sure and it will continue to happen, no doubt. But one of the things I think is important is engaging the player while automating the product. Automated cash transactions at machines are becoming increasingly popular, with Resorts World Las Vegas subscribing to a high level of cashless payments. However, it’s important that the element of player interaction persists. For the most part, players want to be engaged, that’s why sound and graphics are so vital.  

One of the ways we can keep players engaged is through adding more interaction. We’ve done this in our new product, Go-Go Claw, which looks and behaves like a traditional arcade claw machine. We’ve installed this at two properties so far and will show it off at G2E. 

With that in mind, how do you think gaming companies can remain ahead of their competition when technology is evolving so rapidly?

I think one of the challenges we have in gaming is innovating while remaining mindful of the regulations that exist. Because of this, in some ways, gaming innovates at a slower rate than other industries. I think the way we’ll continue to innovate is, first, by working with regulators in a way that allows them to be comfortable with new technology and understand that appropriate player protections can still be in place. Second, online gaming in regions such as Europe is pushing innovation. Online gaming creates a different level of innovation that players will want to see replicated on casino floors. Ultimately, innovation comes from entertainment and we think that is the most important thing, providing value for a player’s entertainment dollars.

A lot changed for everyone over the last year. How do you think your company has had to adapt in order to continue its growth in the US market?

The last year has created an environment that made us want to adapt. In order to stay relevant, everyone in this industry had to change in order to continue growing. The pandemic also created renewed interest in some of our products like Shoot to Win craps because it has so few touch points on it.. Because on the pandemic as well, other manufacturers have become focused on creating products and platforms that have lower touch points in regard to machines, systems and cash. Ultimately, the last year has seen us develop a different mindset, thus allowing the company to innovate in different ways.