Product Review Q&A: Deal or No Deal slot machine

January 23, 2024

Jean Venneman, COO of Gaming Arts, showed us the company's new Deal or No Deal slot machine in its In-Office Showroom at its Las Vegas office. She spoke with Gaming America about translating a TV show into a slot machine.

How do you go about translating a game show like Deal or No Deal into a slot machine?

When it comes to branded licenses on slot machines, these are some of the best because there is a direct tie-in between what goes on in the brand and what’s happening in-game. It’s much harder when you take a celebrity or a singer, etc. and turn that into a slot machine experience. We have an actual game from TV that we can translate into the machine. That’s what we’ve done. There’s a couple of bonuses in the game. The main Deal or No Deal bonus plays substantially like the TV show.

When the player gets into the bonus, there’s 26 cases. They get to pick their favorite case, put that aside and then see the board, with half of the numbers on the lower side, half the numbers on the higher side. They start picking cases and they’re opened to see which ones are eliminated. Once they go through a round, the banker comes on – just like on the show – and offers them a certain amount of bonus money. Or they can continue to play. It’s very similar to the way the show works, which I think is what players are going to enjoy the most. It’s such a familiar experience since that show has been around for many years. Even those who are casual fans probably know the general mechanics.

Does that involve your game designers watching a bunch of episodes?

Definitely. We are working with our licensing partner, Banijay Brands, who owns the brand and we’re making sure we’re going through – because it’s not just the game play experience. It’s the whole visual experience as well. Does it look like the set of the TV show? Does it have the same tempo? Does it have the same sounds? All those elements, we want to make sure we’re being true with.

It sounds like the authentic Deal or No Deal experience, as though you were on the show itself.

Yes, some of the sweeteners we put in our game that they might not do on the show is when you get into the bonus, there is opportunity for multipliers. You may go into the bonus, for example, and your top briefcase is 1,200. Or you could go in with a couple of multiplier briefcases and now that 1,200 has been multiplied by eight.

As I recall, the fun of the game was the contestant trying to outsmart the banker. How does that play out in the slot machine?

It’s going to be the same thought process and strategy for the player. They’re going to see what’s available on the board and what the banker has to offer. Then they’ll decide whether or not they want to take the deal or risk it and continue to play.

I noticed that when I was playing, I would always go straight to the end because it’s fun to see the whole experience. But, when you’re sitting down in front of it as a player and you’ve wagered, say, $1.80 to get into this bonus and your first offer is, say, $450, you might think twice about, “Oh, I just want to keep playing.” There’s some risk – I bet $1.80, I’m being offered $450. Do I just want to take it and run?

It’ll be interesting to see how players respond to that and if they also say, “You know what, I want to have the experience. I’ll take my chances and go to the end.” Or decide, “Okay, I want to get out pretty quickly because that’s a nice amount of money.” It’s up to them to decide, which I think is the interesting and fun part of the game.

If you outsmart the banker and win, do you get to have the cathartic experience of watching the banker feel bad that you beat him?

If you decide to go to the end or even if you pick in the meantime, we will show you what your case had and you’ll see if you did better than the banker or not. The banker, as in the show, is a silhouette. You don’t know what the banker looks like. The new show that’s been airing on CNBC has a female banker and we have a female banker in ours as well. So, you might see her silhouette go “Ahhh!” [slumps her shoulders] or “Ha!”

That’s got to be gratifying when you do win.

Yeah. I hope the players feel that way as well, that they made a decision that put them on the right side of that scenario.

As part of your partnership with Banijay Brands you’re also rolling out some complimentary themes, Golden Briefcase and Briefcase Breaker. What can you tell us about those complimentary games?

They’re very similar in the fact that the main feature, the Deal or No Deal bonus game, does have that traditional, authentic play experience. But some sub-bonuses vary. We also have free game features for both. In one of the themes, when you get to the free games there’s a re-spin feature where you can, if you have certain reels or certain symbols on the reels, re-spin to see if you can increase that.

On the other, we have briefcases that are unidentified. If you get those you can pick among a number – I think it’s six or eight briefcases – to get your prize. We have some models, like open-the-briefcase models. We have them featured predominately in each of the games. Each of the games has a different personality based on the models that we placed in them. The true experience is similar between both themes. But there’s some nice variation.

Deal or No Deal is your big new game, but what else do you have on the horizon?

A notable one, because it’s starting to see its approvals with the gaming control boards and we’re getting our GLI letters in, is a game called Big Fat Dragon. It’s an adorable dragon that, when you get into the bonus, he’s either eating food or getting hit by pots and pans. The food is good. The pots and pans, not so good. It’s an accumulation feature where the reels start filling the symbols as you play the game.

The dragon has a lot of character. He’s endearing. I think players are going to enjoy the humor and the “adorableness,” for lack of a better word, of our character. You’re winning, you’re laughing. Who doesn’t want that?

We were just meeting in your In-Office Showroom in your office here in Las Vegas. How do you use that space? What is it for?

We use it for a few reasons. Its primary reason is for customers, to bring them in and show them our latest and greatest. We also use it quite a bit to put the most recent builds of our games in so that the staff can go and play and offer commentary and feedback.

We have a design team that is responsible for making the most interesting, compelling and exciting games we can make. But it takes a village. So, we’ll have various folks from accounting or production playing the game and they might see something that design didn’t see.

We want to make sure we get a lot of eyes on the game before it goes onto the market. That’s our version of pre-market testing, if you will. By having versions that are in-progress in there we can take a good look and offer our feedback.

So how many lunches have you spent there?

Uh, yeah. A few. [Laughs] You can frequently walk by and hear somebody in there playing something. What’s better than having a job where part includes going in and playing games? We’re lucky to be in this industry where we can do these things.

You talk about office experiences where you have casual Friday. You have a casino in your office!?

[Laughs] Not every business can say that. That’s for sure. We enjoy that. But we’re also productive with it. We have a fair number of customers that we’re able to bring in and show not just what’s current but what’s coming, which is always nice.


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