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TOP MUSIC & GAMES STORIES (Dec. 12): Merit '09 Software Ups Earnings; AMI Expands Salesforce; Shultz Exits Rock-Ola; D&B's Mixed Q3

Posted On: 12/12/2008

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Merit Reports 28% Earnings Increase For '09 Software

BRISTOL, PA -- Merit Entertainment said its new 2009 software release is earning 28% more than its 2008 version, according to data gathered from Megatouch videogames operating in the field. The 2009 software package features new games and refreshed trivia, photos and phrases. It can run on new and legacy terminals, from the Megatouch XL class to the Maxx and Force machines. The collection data demonstrating the earnings increase were gathered from new Aurora models, featuring 19" flat-panel touch-sensitive displays.

Trivia Whiz 2, among the new games in the 2009 release, is a fresh version of the Megatouch classic that challenges players with improved categories. Officials said it might garner the No. 2 spot in Merit's top-earnings ranking. Also new is Super Boxxi, a fast-paced spinoff that has eclipsed the original to become Megatouch's No. 3 earner, and Lucky 11's, a Las Vegas heist-themed game that comes in at No. 7 overall. Rounding out the new titles is a touchscreen adaptation of Skee Ball, which is rated No. 8 in earnings.

Continuing to build player loyalty, the new software is jam-packed with updated content for such Merit classics as Photo Hunt, Mystery Phraze and Hollywood Match. "We've been very good at developing game concepts that players become attached to and then work very hard to keep the content within those games fresh," said Bob Mills, Merit's vice-president of sales and network business. "You keep players hooked on what they love, and that evolves into a need to see what we'll do next."

Separately, Merit is planning to release a new countertop terminal that it describes as the "cure for the common countertop." First shown at last month's IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando, FL, the new Megatouch Rx has a low-profile and weather-resistant body that makes it suitable for a broad range of placement options -- drinks can be served over it, and it can withstand typical outdoor conditions. A U-bolt makes securing units to bartops easy, and a flip-top lid with auto-locking, position-controlled hinges provides quick access to money-handling components when servicing.



AMI Taps Aune, Koklys Region Managers; Bolsters Inside Sales/Service Team

GRAND RAPIDS, MI -- AMI Entertainment and Rowe International have announced a number of key appointments designed to maintain the close operator contact for which they are well known.

Bryan Aune has joined AMI and Rowe as Midwest regional sales manager. He brings nearly three decades' experience in sales to this post, having most recently been regional sales director at Crane Co./Automatic Products, responsible for the AP brand nationwide. He joined Crane when that company acquired Automatic Products international ltd. Prior to his service with APi, Aune had been sales and operations manager for the Lieberman Cos. (Bloomington, MN).

Wayne Koklys has been appointed Western regional manager for AMI and Rowe. Koklys brings more than two decades' sales experience to his new post. He joins AMI and Rowe from Pan American Laboratories, where he was a sales representative responsible for Western regional sales. He also served with Pepsi-Cola, and was a professional baseball player in the Atlanta Braves organization.

Aune and Koklys will report to John Margold, who serves as senior vice-president of sales and marketing for both Rowe and AMI.

AMI's inside sales team also has been reinforced with the addition of Bridget O'Donnell as a sales representative. She will work with Southeastern regional sales manager Richard Gershman. Sales vice-president Terry Lacher noted that the addition of more and more operators to the AMI family has made it desirable to augment the inside salesforce.

Gordy Anderson, technical services director for AMI, added that this also is true for the support team, which has retained two new technicians accordingly. They will join the knowledgeable crew on hand to answer questions as part of the company's 24/7 technical support program.

AMI Entertainment and its sister company, touchscreen videogame maker Merit Entertainment, recently announced a partnership with, an enabler of custom on-location video and data networks. They also strengthened ties with Rock-Ola, whose jukeboxes are powered by AMI and benefit from the company's vast library of recorded music.



Schultz Exits Rock-Ola

TORRANCE, CA -- John Schultz, who served as president of Rock-Ola Manufacturing Corp. for the past 10 years, has left the company. Schultz was the fourth person to serve as president of the 81-year-old jukebox manufacturer. Rock-Ola chief executive Glenn Streeter made the announcement on Dec. 10 in a letter to distributors.

During his decade-long tenure with the iconic jukebox maker, Schultz oversaw new product development and sales. Among his accomplishments was the successful negotiation of Rock-Ola's partnership with AMI Entertainment Inc., a digital music and technology provider. That initiative was announced in September and is expected to increase distribution opportunities for Rock-Ola.

As vice-chairman of the American Amusement Machine Association, Schultz remains active in industry affairs. He was presented with the AAMA's President's Award in 2007 for his outstanding service to the association and the entire coin-op industry.

"We wish John success in all his future endeavors," Streeter said.

Separately, the Rock-Ola chief said his company is well positioned for growth in the digital era. It began shipping AMI-powered commercial jukeboxes this fall, introduced two exciting consumer jukeboxes in its Music Center line this year and plans to roll out upgrades that will convert earlier Rock-Ola digital jukeboxes to the AMI system in January.



Dave & Buster's Same-Store Sales Fall 6% In Third Quarter

DALLAS -- Dave & Buster's Inc. said same-store sales in its third quarter, ended Nov. 2, dropped 6%. The food and entertainment chain's total revenues fell 3.2%, from $123.7 million the same period last year to $119.7 million. On the plus side, D&B's reported $3.2 million higher revenues from noncomparable operations.

"Macroeconomic factors made for an extremely challenging sales environment, and hurricane Ike forced the closure of two of our stores for two weeks," said D&B's chief executive Steve King.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization for 2008's third quarter were $10.9 million, 4.8% less than prior year EBITDA of $11.5 million. Adjusted EBITDA, which excludes startup costs and other nonrecurring charges, decreased 4.8% to $11.8 million compared with $12.4 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2007.

Total revenues for the 39-week period increased to $398.4 million, or 1.9%, compared with $390.8 million for the comparable period last year. D&B's said this revenue growth was comprised primarily of a 0.2% decrease in comparable store sales and an $8.2 million increase in revenues from noncomparable operations. Total food and beverage revenues decreased 0.4%, while revenues from amusements and other revenue increased 4.7%.