I’ve held a number of different positions in my casino career and have learned a great deal about the industry along the way, but there are still a number of gaps in my gaming education, one such area being the process by which entertainment brands are incorporated into gaming machines and placed on the slot floor. Often I’ve walked by a themed slot machine such as The Walking Dead and wondered what it took to get it on the casino floor—how did that brand became a popular slot title? What are the benefits of working with a brand to enhance gaming floor performance?
In my search for answers, I turned to Russell Binder, founding partner of Striker Entertainment. Striker Entertainment is a full-service global licensing agency dedicated to maximizing licensing opportunities and building brand equity for its clients. Striker represents some of the biggest global entertainment franchises including The Walking Dead, Five Nights at Freddy’s, The Umbrella Academy, Ozark, slotxo Good Omens, Creepshow, Trivia Crack and more. Licensing programs created for The Twilight Saga, The Hunger Games and Angry Birds move franchises have garnered Striker several Licensing Industry Excellence Awards. The company’s roster of customers currently includes AMC, Universal Cable Productions, Media Rights Capital and several others.I recently sat with Binder to get his insight on the licensed slot machine trade. What follows are some excerpts from our conversation:
This is a bit of a dance between intellectual property (IP) owners that are excited about the space and want to have their brands translated into physical slots, and slot machine manufacturers that desire to associate with well-known brands properties and personalities that can bring eyeballs and attention to their products on the casino floor. From our experience, there have been a myriad of ways properties ultimately get licensing deals done and games developed. These deals run the spectrum, and can involve highly rated television series such as The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones, classic/evergreen properties such as Betty Boop and Batman, or global celebrity musicians like Michael Jackson and Madonna. There are also lesser-known niche properties that appeal to a specific slot machine manufacturer or development studio—something they are so passionate about that they’re willing to spend 18 to 24 months working on translating that IP into a dynamic gaming experience.We have done all types of deals where we have represented high-profile IP as well as niche series and motion pictures. The key to a successful partnership is having an IP/property that speaks to the player, combined with a deeply engaging and satisfying gaming mechanic. A great IP with a bad game mechanic will not last and vice versa. There have been plenty of failures that highlight the fact that just the IP or game mechanic alone will not automatically fuel success.