IGT - International Game Technology
IGT Slot Machines
International Game Technology is the largest slot machine and video poker machine manufacturer in the United States.
IGT - A History of Success
The story of IGT really got started in 1981. This is a red-letter year in its unparalleled story of success. At the time, mechanical slots were still a standard in the industry. IGT was the slots company which moved to the cutting edge of the random number generator revolution, which changed the basic business of slot machines.
From Mechanical to Computerized
When slot machines were mechanical, the size of jackpots were tied directly to the size of the machine. Machines actually used mechanical reels to place symbols on them. The larger the jackpot, the larger the reel had to be.
Due to the size constraints imposed by casinos, a slot machine could not be larger than 3 reels. The number of pictures on those reels were limited, usually to under 20. Jackpots couldn't be larger than a few thousand dollars, or else the machines weren't profitable.
With the inclusion of the random number generator chip, size restrictions became obsolete. Reels could be simulated, tied to the outcome of a random number generator which acted the part of a reel. The size of jackpots rose exponentially into the millions of dollars.
The random number generator made the progressive jackpot possible, and International Game Technology was the first to experiment with the possibilities.
From Evolution to Revolution
The change wasn't immediately noticed. Even in the early days of RNGs, slots designers simply mimicked the classic slots designs of previous years. The looks of games weren't changed overnight. In 1986, though, IGT introduced the factor that would help them conquer the slots world.
It was in this year that IGT launched Megabucks. This was the first progressive slot. Every time a someone played on the machine, a small bit of money was added to a progressive pot. Therefore, the longer a progressive went without someone hitting the jackpot, the larger the jackpot grew.
Gamblers of all sorts are familiar with this concept. It is used in megamillion and powerball lotteries across America. People love the ever-growing jackpot, and slot progressives were no different.
The Wheel of Fortune
The most popular progressive jackpot in the history of slots is The Wheel of Fortune Slots. Based on the eighties game show hosted by Pat Sajak and Vanna White, this slot machine payed off big jackpots. It offered a bonus game where player's spun on the "wheel" to multiply their winnings. The combination of these two ways of winning was instantly popular, and has remained a popular combination for the past fifteen years.
Many slot machines, both by IGT and other companies, have copied The Wheel of Fortune. But the machine is a perfect blend for IGT: name recognition, good pay structure and lots of casino placement. Many slots players judge a casino on how many IGT machines are on the floor, and how many Wheel of Fortune games are on the floor.
Television Themes and Slot Machines
The Wheel of Fortune was not the only television franchise used by IGT. They have turned dozens of t.v. favorites into slot machine gimmicks. Some of these are more popular than others, but most have been quite successful.
They have introduced game show themes with such machines as Jeopardy, Family Feud and The Price Is Right, three of the most enduring family game shows in American television history. Some of these had progressives and others did not. Most of them remain on casino floors to this day.
IGT has marketed "scary slots", too. Machines included in this lineup, which are often networked together, are The Addams Family, The Munsters and Elvira slots.
Other classic sitcoms have been turned into slot machines. I Love Lucy, I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched, Gilligan's Island and The Beverly Hillbillies are favorites among these. IGT spent the money to get stars from some of these shows to do voice work on the machines, adding a degree of entertainment not seen before on slot machines.
Other Popular Slots from International Game Technology
The television franchises were not the only machines sold by IGT. In fact, some of their most popular slots are ones that look quite similar to the classic machines. Many of these include bonus games and progressive jackpots, though.
Red, White and Blue is an example of one of these machines. Double Diamond is another. Both of these use bonus game features, which players love to see. When a certain combination comes up on the reels, regular play stops and a bonus game is started. The player typically has a number of free spins in this bonus game, where the player wins money according to multipliers, before rejoining the original game.
This is the best way a player can walk away with $100 from a slot machine, which is much more likely to happen than the progressive jackpot. IGT has found that the two concepts combined keep players coming back for more.
IGT Progressive Jackpot Networks
Of course, the progressive jackpot network is the present and future of slot machines. It is one thing to have a progressive jackpot linked to play on one machine. It is another to link those machines in a slots network.
Once the age of the internet came, it became feasible that the computers inside slot machines could be linked just like computers on the worldwide web. A central monitoring computer could monitor all the activity on this network, which is usually (but not always) made up of one type of machines. For instance, you might find a network of Wheel of Fortune machines linked in casinos across a state, or in several states.
Whenever a player plays a machine in this network and does not win a jackpot, a little bit of money is placed in that jackpot. In this way, jackpots increase 24 hours a day until that jackpot is hit. Your chances of hitting it might be smaller, but the bonus for hitting is huge.
These progressive jackpot network introduced prizes in the tens of thousands. Later, this became the hundreds of thousands. Nowadays, it is not unheard of for a progressive jackpot to reach into the millions. Many of them start out with a $50,000 or $100,000 minimum.
IGT's Growing Empire
International Game Technology is the master of marketing, with such innovations as the progressive jackpot. But the company has devised a masterful business strategy, too. For the past ten years or so, it has been buying onetime rivals, consolidating its position in the gaming industry.
IGT partnered with Anchor Gaming through much of the late 1990s on some of the more innovative games of the era. In 2001, Anchor was bought out by former partner, International Game Technology.
In 2003, IGT purchased former rival, Silicon Gaming, which introduced Pentium processors and CD-Rom technology into the industry. In 2003, Acres Gaming followed. In 2005, it bought out WagerWorks.
As the slot machine industry becomes more consolidated, you can expect International Game Technology to remain the American giant in slots and video game machines.
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