Big Buck Tourneys Jump Start 2009’s Videogaming Season
CHICAGO — Play Mechanix’s latest Big Buck Hunter Pro tournament went live last week and runs through January 27. This month’s Moose on the Loose contest follows December’s Reindeer Games, which awarded big prizes to the top five players. Play Mechanix, which created the Big Buck series with Raw Thrills, runs national online tournaments every month on its CoinUp network.
“As the CoinUp network continues to grow, the competition is getting stronger with each tournament,” Snipes said. CoinUp will administer two online national events – one Pro and the other Safari – every month this year, and additional promotions will join these. The second annual Big Buck Hunter Pro World Championship Tournament will be the franchise’s crowning 2009 event; it consists of four regional qualifyers and culminates in a final match – over a two-month period. Last year’s championship series awarded more than $20,000 in prize money.
Snipes noted that allied mobile products, introduced last year, are also creating excitement about Big Buck. There’s an iGoogle gadget that can be added to one’s Google homepage and refreshes tournament data every 30 minutes. It displays a leaderboard of the top 200 players and lists prizes for active tournaments. Also new is a Big Buck Hunter Pro game for cellphones, made by Hands-On Mobile Inc. It’s available on Verizon and is expected to join other cellular networks soon.
PHOTO: Big Buck Safari DX is CoinUp read for online tournaments and remote management. It features five big game animals that players hunt in 15 African scenes. This deluxe model is equipped with a 42” LCD. Safari and BBHP are marketed by Betson and sold by distributorships nationwide.
Rock-Ola Offers AMI Updates For Legacy Jukes, And Stimulus Package
TORRANCE, CA — New from Rock-Ola Manufacturing Corp. are updates that convert the factory’s older digital models, running on the Ecast network, to AMI-powered systems.
Conversion kits are available for the Wall-Rock and Rock-Star wall models and Slimline and E-Rock freestanding boxes. Two kit types are offered: one for jukeboxes using Ecast’s MoJO core and one for models that predate the MoJO, which was introduced by Ecast almost three years ago.
A standard kit for a pre-MoJO system consists of frame replacements, Roweline controller, router and cabling, and power supply. It reuses existing motherboard, CPU and RAM. Conversions for MoJO-equipped models include similar components as well as a sealed touchscreen monitor and AMI replacement core.
Standard kit prices start as low as $499. A $500 music credit from AMI is being offered on all kit purchases, making a standard kit virtually free, and AMI hard drives are included at no charge.
Late last year, Rock-Ola began building jukeboxes for the AMI Entertainment Network, ending a five-year agreement with Ecast. To help stimulate the new partnership and sales of new equipment, the two companies are offering a far-reaching promotion for new AMI-powered Rock-Ola products.
Dubbed the Stimulus Package, the purchasing program offers three options: buy three, five or 10 jukeboxes, and get one, two or five for free, respectively. All boxes include hard drives, credit-card readers and remotes at no additional charge. As part of this deal, AMI said it will cover 50% of the music fees for the first three to six months for these new purchases.
Rock-Ola’s new conversion kits began shipping this month. The new purchasing program runs through March 31. The company is online at rock-ola.com.
‘Ecast Best of 2008’ Playlist Goes Live On Jukebox Network
SAN FRANCISCO — The latest Ecast playlist features the 40 most-played songs on the music provider’s network last year. “Ecast Best of 2008” automatically appeared on all Ecast-powered jukeboxes, estimated to be more than 10,000 nationwide, earlier this week.
The top five of 2008 are “Sexual Eruption” by Snoop Dogg, “Low” by Flo Rida, “4 Minutes” by Madonna, “She’s a Hottie” by Toby Keith and “No Air” by Jordin Sparks.
Ecast notes that among the top plays are songs from artists who were promoted on its network, including Keith, AC/DC and Blake Shelton. Other chart-dominating tracks are from Metallica, Hinder, T-Pain, Kanye West, Lil Wayne,, Britney Spears, Brooks and Dunn, as well as Katy Perry and Leona Lewis, who are relative newcomers to the U.S. music scene.
Ecast playlists add visibility to the company’s catalog, encourage single song downloads and thereby boost cashbox revenue. They showcase most-played songs in the Country, R&B/ Hip Hop, Pop and Rock genres.
“When we renamed ‘Hot Hits’ to ‘Playlists’ last year, song plays from that feature increased 80%,” reported Ecast’s Suzanne Maineri. “Our ability to provide great song collections and constantly update them keeps content fresh and ensures the jukebox stays relevant.”
Weaker Pound Adds More Value To London Shows
LONDON — The depreciation of the British pound against the dollar, euro and other currencies has resulted in an uplift in preregistration figures for the upcoming ATEI and International Gaming Expo, according to the shows’ producer.
This week, the pound fell against the dollar amid reports of the UK’s economic slump. The UK currency also declined versus the Japanese yen and the Swiss franc, as stock markets around the world slid amid concern about global growth. But the currency movement could be good news for ATEI’s international visitors.
“Year-on-year, the euro and the dollar have appreciated substantially against sterling,” explained Karen Cooke, who heads up exhibitions at Clarion. “In January 2008, the pound was worth in the region of 1.35 euros and $2. Twelve months later, the respective figures are 1.1 euros and $1.50. In real terms, visitors holding U.S. dollars have 25% more purchasing power than at the beginning of 2008, and those with euros nearly 20% more.”
The cost of staying in London, and prices for products made in the UK, will be significantly lower compared with last year. “With budgets going so much further,” Cooke said, “we are anticipating that new companies will attend, that existing visitor delegations will bring additional colleagues and that visitors will stay for additional days.”
ATEI and the International Gaming Expo, incorporating ICE and ICEi, will have a combined exhibitor base of around 450 companies from 50 nations. The shows take place at London’s Earl Court from January 27 to 29. Registration information can be had at atei-exhibition.com and ige-exhibition.com.
NBVA Announces New Pricing For Annual Convention
SCOTTSDALE, AZ — The National Bulk Vendors Association has reduced registration fees for its annual trade show and convention. The show takes place April 16-18 at the famed Las Vegas Bally’s Hotel. The new pricing structure offers different registration options that are aimed at building show attendance and the association’s membership base. They are:
· NBVA member registration options (for one visitor and all three days): $100 if paid by Feb. 13; $120 if paid by April 1; or $135 at the door.
· Nonmember registration options (for one visitor): $150 for three days if paid by April 1; $175 for three days; or $150 for a one-day pass purchased at the door.
Fees cover access to the show floor and all seminars. New members who pay the $100 show charge, per person, will have their membership paid in full when they register for the tradeshow.
Because of limited availability of discounted rooms and high demand, association officials recommend early registration. For additional information, call (888) NBVA-USA.
North Carolina Operators Emulate Texas ‘Sweepstakes’ Game Strategy
CHARLOTTE, NC — After video poker games became illegal to operate in 2007, some operators here began running “sweepstakes”-style videogames that offered risk-reward entertainment, without a poker theme. Similar strategies to get around antigambling statutes have been seen in other states, notably Texas. But North Carolina state lawmakers responded by passing Senate Bill 180, which outlawed sweepstakes games, effective Dec. 1, 2008.
Now some operators are back with modified sweepstakes games that do not have prepaid cards, one of the features specifically banned by the law. The devices are popping up in bars, restaurants, Internet cafes and tobacco shops, according to The Wilmington Star-News. Sen. Tony Rand (D-Cumberland) said lawmakers might seek a broader ban in the next session.
So far police have seized only five sweepstakes games. But no charges were filed because a Brunswick County district attorney said the devices did not meet all of the criteria specified by SB 180.
Federal Warning Label Proposed For ‘Violent’ Videogames
WASHINGTON — Rep. Joe Baca (D-Los Angeles) on Jan. 7 introduced the Video Game Health Labeling Act of 2009 (HR 231). If enacted, any home videogame rated T (Teen) or higher by the Electronics Software Ratings Board would have to carry this cautionary label: “WARNING: Excessive exposure to violent video games and other violent media has been linked to aggressive behavior.”
Baca termed the measure an effort to keep parents informed and to “hold the videogame industry accountable.”
The language of the bill does not appear likely to apply to coin-operated games, since it specifically links the warning labels to content ratings issued by the home games industry.
In other regulatory news, gamepolitics.com reported that New York assemblyman Keith Wright (D-Harlem) has proposed a state law that would ban retailers from selling or renting videogames to minors that contained “profanity, racist stereotypes or derogatory language, and/or actions toward a specific group of persons.”
West Virginia Can Censor VLT Advertisements, Court Rules
RICHMOND, VA — The Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals here has ruled that the West Virginia Lottery Commission has the right to prohibit words such as “casino,” “chance,” “Las Vegas” and “luck” from advertisements that promote the Mountaineer State’s legal video lottery business.
A three-judge panel ruled that such restrictions do not infringe on operators’ first amendment rights to free expression.
In his written opinion on the case, Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III said the state’s desired regulations allowed the government to balance its desire to raise funds for socially constructive causes, against the danger of promoting addictive gambling.
The suit was originated by the American Civil Liberties Union, acting in defense of club owners and fraternal associations.
Press reports quoted the president of the West Virginia Amusement & Limited Video Lottery Association as endorsing the appeals court ruling.
In such states as South Carolina where video lottery promotions were unrestricted, the resulting casino atmosphere created a backlash against the market that eventually resulted in bans on VLTs, according to many operators.
West Virginia passed its Limited Video Lottery Act eight years ago. The bill permits 9,000 video poker machines in venues accessible to adults. The Associated Press said 37 operators currently lease legal poker machines to locations under the law.