10 Questions from Lucien van Linden for Erik-Jan van den Berg General Manager – EMEA, about the succes of Aristocrat’s Hyperlink™, Cash Express™, Lightning Link™, Dragon Link™ and Dollar Storm™. And what is Aristocrat up to in the coming years?
Lucien van Linden Q1: Ever since Aristocrat launched the Hyperlink progressive in 2003 and its successors Cash Express Luxury Line™, Lightning Link, Dragon Link and Dollar Storm, it seems that this type of Progressive is here to stay; what makes this family of progressives stand out?
Erik-Jan van den Berg: Players across the world have a great affinity for the whistle-blowing, steam locomotive-themed original Cash Express that has powered gaming floors for more than two decades. When Aristocrat first introduced the game, using pioneering Hyperlink technology, it set a new benchmark for the way games are played. The Hyperlink gaming system revolutionised the gaming experience and further drove the popularity of Aristocrat products. In fact, Hyperlink is widely recognised as the single most valuable piece of Australian intellectual property ever commercialised – ahead of such inventions as Wi-Fi, and the bionic ear.
To mark the return of this modernised classic, rolling our along European tracks once again in 2022, we are offering Aristocrat clients a special pre-order package designed to get their players back on track, along with with Dollar Storm, another exciting link concept derived from the ground-breaking Hold & Spin phenomenons, Lightning Link and Dragon Link.
Lucien van Linden Q2: Let me see if I understand it properly; So Hyperlink - and Cash Express, Lightning Link, Dragon Link and Dollar Storm - all allow players to play on a slot machine and get a chance to win a set of four prizes in a shared Grand Jackpot pool, as well as an incrementing standalone Major Jackpot and scaling Minor and Mini Jackpot Bonuses?
Erik-Jan van den Berg: Yes, our Lightning Link™ slots have a common jackpot level connected to all slots on that bank, so you are essentially playing together and competing with the players next to you. After a player wins the Grand Jackpot, it resets to its start out value and a new round begins. This ensures there is always an interesting jackpot at any given time for every player. Meanwhile, players are building the Major Jackpot at their own machine and can increase their Minor and Mini Bonus prizes by increasing the denomination of their wager.
Lucien van Linden Q3: So, the original blueprint of the Hyperlink technology is still being used in Cash Express Luxury Line, Lightning Link and now in Dollar Storm slots?
Erik-Jan van den Berg: Well, off course we have fine-tuned the concept, but basically they stem from the same family of games. Today, most slot machines that provide progressive jackpots in live casinos or online have multiple tiers. The genesis was indeed Aristocrat Technologies’ Hyperlink, and therefore the theme that helped it rise to popularity was the original Cash Express. Whenever a jackpot hits, the Cash Express™ train starts rolling across the screen carrying your chance to win.
Jackpots are always labeled Mini, Minor, Major and Grand. Everyone who plays fairly often gets the thrill of winning multiple progressive, which is largely why people like these games so much.
Lucien van Linden Q4: So what is different with the Dollar Storm slots?
Erik-Jan van den Berg: Dollar Storm combines the best award-winning aspects of Lightning Link, has more denomination choices and offers an additional 50.000€ ‘rapid hit’ multi-site / wide area progressive for greater jackpot action. On top of that, Dollar Storm offers four new games, each with their own free games twist, which have been designed to maximise player appeal and entertainment.
Lucien van Linden Q5: Players love these games worldwide and some of them even record their winnings on video, for example winning on a Lightning Link recorded on video. Have you seen the Ross Bybee videos on Youtube and what do you think of this? Ross Slots on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/mmoExchangeErik-Jan van den Berg: Yes, this is great advertising for us and we very much welcome the deep passion that players and influencers have for Aristocrat games. We encourage players to have fun, but be responsible in their gaming behaviour, it should remain entertaining and fun.
Lucien van Linden Q6: Something completely different, for 30 years I have been amazed by the music and jingles that Aristocrat dubs under winning sequences; Who is responsible for the music clips at Aristocrat and why have they held on the to classic sounds?
Erik-Jan van den Berg: Players remember well the characters, sounds and celebrations that they enjoy and like being reminded of earlier fun experiences. Familiar tunes and win celebrations heighten these sensations. Our many game studios around the world are composed of creative specialists in all the different aspects of a game; mathematicians, graphic artists, animators and of course acoustic engineers. Features of the most popular games will be replicated and /or adapted in order to bring fresh gaming entertainment to players with the most exciting elements creating a sense of nostalgia.
Lucien van Linden Q7: The Hyperlink Jackpot Feature Patent was filed in 2001 and expired, are your competitors following suit?
Erik-Jan van den Berg: When games developers create a successful game that proves really popular with players, it follows that others will try to emulate it. This clearly identifies who leading in the creative field. I’m pleased to say that Aristocrat has continued to invest in developing new and innovative concepts and as a result can boast not just one single success, but a multitude of diverse market-leading content.
Lucien van Linden Q8: Aristocrat has purchased big gaming studios as Plarium Global, Big Fish Games, and Product Madness, will we see a spillover of content from the online game industry into slotmachines in the “brick and mortar” or land-based Casinos?
Erik-Jan van den Berg: That’s already been happening for some time now. It used to be the case that digital channels would take their content from the pick of the most popular land-based games. These days, it’s increasingly common that our studios develop brand new concepts that get released onto digital platforms first. Players’ responses are then monitored and games are then enhanced with tweaks to optimise player enjoyment. This means that more new games arriving on live casino gaming floors have already been tested and fine-tuned to bring maximum fun from day one.
Lucien van Linden Q9: We are discussing concepts that are found inside casinos, does Aristocrat have any plans for games or gaming solutions for the Arcade industry?
Erik-Jan van den Berg:
Aristocrat’s ambition is to become the world’s leading creator of omni-channel gaming content. To achieve this goal, we would ultimately need to address all locations where players can game, both real and virtual. It’s only a matter of time and focus of priorities that will determine when and how this will happen.
Lucien van Linden Q10: My personal favourite Aristcocrat game of all time is the Aristocrat Video poker “Guns and Roses”, What is your all-time personal favourite?
Erik-Jan van den Berg: Earlier in my career, I was fortunate to work in casino operations in Germany and was very drawn to the buzz and excitement generated by the original Cash Express. When I moved into the games development side of this business. Lightning Link was just taking off in Europe and the same buzz I’d experienced with Cash Express was right there again, only now it was even more intense and electric.
Lucien van Linden Bonus Question Q11:
In the Netherlands, for nearly a decade or more, Aristocrat Keno 20+2 was a big earner for casinos and players loved them, what happened to Keno and Bingo?
Erik-Jan van den Berg:
Games such as Keno, Bingo and Poker tend to have a longer shelf life, with players focused purely on the basic game itself - without any bells and whistles. It’s a completely different experience from videoslots. For this reason there has not been much innovation on this front for a considerable time. Watch this space, however! Aristocrat will soon be releasing a multigame compendium comprising a vast array of slot games, poker and keno, all featuring games characters and themes that have become player favourites over the last decade or two.
Look out for ‘Winner’s World’, coming to a casino near you very soon. You heard it here first!