USA- Incredible Technologies is developing a new "Golden Tee" coin-operated platform that will support new functions and capabilities, VT has learned. The new platform is expected to launch in 12 to 18 months.
IT is providing little information at this time about its upcoming video golf platform, dubbed "Golden Tee Five." Officials did say that the new system, with enhanced programming and hardware, not only will support the latest generation of "Golden Tee" golf games, along with other applications, but also will be designed "with an eye toward affordability." The new platform, they added, will enable IT programmers to create player experiences and operating features that will "revolutionize the coin-op industry with new technologies that the industry hasn't seen yet."
Following the launch of the new platform, IT stressed that the company will continue to support existing "Golden Tee Fore!" technology with course upgrades and tournament services to meet market demands.
"IT is committed to 'Golden Tee Fore!' forever," said Elaine Hodgson, president and CEO. "As long as people keep buying and playing it, we will continue supporting it." Hodgson said IT's commitment to the "Fore!" platform addresses tournament activity and software updates.
"Just because we're working on the next generation ['Golden Tee'] product does not mean we won't continue to support existing technology," added Larry Hodgson, vice-president of product development. The new platform, he explained, will support a wide range of applications other than golf games and online tournament services, and will be available as an upgrade kit to retrofit existing "Fore!" dedicated cabinets.
The forthcoming platform will be the fourth "Golden Tee" generation. The original system rolled out in 1989, followed by "Golden Tee 3D" in 1995 and "Golden Tee Fore!" in 2000. The original game enjoyed success in the U.S. and United Kingdom, where a joystick was used instead of a trackball, without online tournament support. "Golden Tee 3D" employed a new hardware set that supported an external modem and enabled units to run the "International Tournament System," an electronic service that polls and posts player information and scores. ITS interactivity is administered by ITNet, Incredible Technologies' client/server system.
Equipped with a hard drive and standard PC-components that replaced "3D's" EPROM system, "Golden Tee Fore!" added further tournament and operational enhancements. Its onboard modem and faster display resolution enabled greater online interactivity and new play concepts. "Golden Tee Five" is expected to accelerate the game's content and online evolution.
In the meantime, IT has several initiatives in place to keep the "Golden Tee Fore!" content fresh. Two optional courses will be released this fall on CD-ROM to complement the seven new courses featured on the "Golden Tee Fore!" 2004 update, which was issued in February. The 18-hole courses, Amateur and Pro, will provide players with nine course selections. Promised to be "reasonably priced," the two-course update is not mandatory for national ITS tournaments, but is expected to spike already strong earnings.
In the spring of 2004, IT said it plans to release another comprehensive "Golden Tee Fore!" annual update. Similar to previous years, the annual update will introduce an expanded selection of 18-hole courses, as well as new playing and operating features. The new courses, officials said, will feature exotic locales and attention-grabbing challenges designed to maintain player interest. At this time, officials said, no price increases or significant changes to the ordering process are being considered.
Reviewing this year's progress to date, IT officials said "Golden Tee Fore!" has proven to be an instant success, followed by course updates released on March 17 under the name "Golden Tee 2004." According to IT, the 2004 updates were installed in more than 90% of the online "Golden Tees" (21,000 units) nationwide just three weeks after the initial release. IT reported that players have also responded positively to the new courses, raising cashbox earnings to new levels.
"Big Buck Hunter II: Sportsman's Paradise" hunting video also is picking up momentum, with strong earnings reports and increased national tournament activity both in the U.S. and Canada, officials said. More than 800 "Big Buck" tournament machines are connected to ITNet and supporting tournament play in the States. The prize pool is expected to increase throughout the year.