We have so much to celebrate in 2016. Since the new year is a time of reflections and resolutions, I thought I’d take a moment to share some of my personal thoughts on my all-time favorite machines, Wheel of Fortune® slots, as well as some of the things I’m most excited about this year. As my friends, family and co-workers will tell you, I can spin on for hours about these games, and will highlight my top five.
Full disclosure: It’s important to note, that, as an IGT employee, unfortunately, I can no longer play most Wheel of Fortune Slots. But, I have a long history with these games, even before my time at IGT, so I’m including some reflections as a Wheel of Fortune slots player as well.
Here we go….cue sound of spinning wheel in lieu of drumroll—it seems more appropriate!
1. Always Something New
Heading into gaming shows such as ICE Totally Gaming, many of the questions we receive are about what exciting new Wheel of Fortune slot themes we have planned. This year’s line-up truly takes this theme into a new dimension with the introduction of Wheel of Fortune® True 3D® Reel Slots (see photo) featuring a play experience so real, you’ll think you’re part of the game. I had the chance to play this game at G2E and was blown away by the graphics and sounds. This game theme also made it international debut at ICE. Both new and experienced Wheel of Fortune slots players are going to get quite a thrill from this one. Another exciting innovation is the Wheel of Fortune® Gold Spin™ series, with fun new betting choices and bonus features. However, this is just the beginning. In addition to these exciting themes, there are many other new Wheel of Fortune games that are sure to appeal to players’ preferences in denominations, volatility, bonuses and jackpot sizes. With an ever-evolving game portfolio like this, it is no wonder Wheel of Fortune slots have such a strong fan-base around the world---including me!
2. Milestone 20th Anniversary
Clearly, there are millions more who share my great fondness for this game as Wheel of Fortune has earned the distinction of the most celebrated slot of all-time. This year marks a whole new milestone for Wheel of Fortune slots in celebration of twenty years of spinning and winning. So, there was no question we needed to do something big to celebrate. In honor of its 20th anniversary, we’re cruising into a year full of festivities with a wave-making collaboration with Carnival Cruise Line® and casino properties all around the U.S. and Canada, culminating in the $200k Wheel of Fortune Spin N Sail Slot Tournament on board Carnival Magic® in November 2016. It’s hard to think of a more exciting way to celebrate this milestone anniversary than with a Caribbean cruise. Check igt.com/spinnsail for participating properties and more information. Properties interested in coming “on board” for this great promotion, please reach out to your IGT Account Manager. This promotion is sure to make a big splash!
3. That Iconic Wheel
Before moving to Las Vegas, and long before joining IGT, I spent many a vacation in this lovely desert valley. Those vacations always included trying to win my dream jackpot on Wheel of Fortune slots. But, if I’m honest, spinning the wheel was almost as big of a draw for me….and I don’t think I am alone in this. Is it the bright lights and colors, the attract chant, the sound the slot icon makes when you’ve qualified for a spin, the anticipation rhythm while waiting for your spin or is it the clicking of the wheel, with each wedge offering a different reward? Any one of these would be considered engaging to a player, and all together, these combined elements are extremely enticing. How many beats do you wait before spinning the wheel? I always like to hit on the 8th note—superstition, perhaps a little, but mainly, I just liked the music and the build….that’s also where you draw in your cheerleading section…which is always fun.
4. Plays Well with Others
Wheel of Fortune slots know how to draw a crowd more than any other game I’ve seen, and it’s not just a crowd – it’s a whole cheerleading section. How many times have you seen groups of people gathered around the Wheel of Fortune game, chanting “Come on big money!” in support of total strangers? The game brings out the best in players in that you want to root for others to hit a big spin on the wheel or an exciting jackpot. In some transcendent way, they make everyone around feel like winners just by being part of the game. Never was this more apparent than with the 2006 introduction of Wheel of Fortune® Special Edition Super Spin® Video Slot (see photo), which featured a larger than life wheel surrounded by loveseats to encourage group interaction. It was standing room only around these first-of- their- kind slots. Players and casinos just couldn’t get enough of the big wheel spinning action. Today, there are more wheel options than ever; and they share one very important common thread---the sense of community they bring to the players and the casino floors.
5. Over 1,000 Millionaires & 3 Billion Reasons to Play
No other game even comes close to making this claim. One glance around the casino and it’s clear that the majority of what many would consider “life-changing” jackpots are on Wheel of Fortune slots. Last fall, Wheel of Fortune slots celebrated a milestone by creating its 1,000th millionaire…and that’s not counting all the other BIG winners created regularly by this game. My first job at IGT, 10 years ago, was to go out on huge jackpot hits and talk with the winners while the jackpot was being verified. Just from watching the progressive meters, I knew these jackpots hit frequently, but I had never seen one hit in person, until this job. What an incredible experience to see the top jackpot icons lined up on the game and talk with the winners about what led them to the lucky machine and, of course, the big question---what are you going to spend this on. It’s thrilling to think of how many mortgages, educations, dream vacations and debts have been made possible by the over $3 billion, (yes BILLION) paid by these slots. And, while the BIG money is the BIG draw, it became clear early, from talking to the winners, that the experience itself (not to mention bragging rights) meant just as much.
So happy anniversary to the most celebrated game in slot machine history!
Come on Big Money!
Global Integrated Marketing Strategist
With IGT for seven years in various roles, currently manages the product marketing for Wheel of Fortune®, House of Cards, Megabucks and other top brands.