Control of 'DOND' features (why??)
#1
Hi All,

Sorry it has taken me so long to write this. With EAG, ICE and several new machines in development it’s been hard to find the time. Many points I’m going to make now I have made over various different threads but hopefully I can pull everything together in one place here.

Firstly, this is just my personal take on why the ‘DOND’ feature is currently 'controlled', why this has come about and the problems with a less controlled ‘DOND’ feature. I will explain briefly how the industry works, how the test works and then who manufacturers sell to as this has a significant bearing on why machines are designed in the way that they are.

1. Who do manufacturers sell to?

Machine manufacturers directly sell machines to operators such as Select Gaming, Sceptre, Bob Rudd etc. However, it is a common misconception that operators can purchase whatever machines they chose. If an operator is supplying free trade business they can purchase whatever they choose, however to operate within brewery/pub retailer business (popular branded high street pubs) any machine the operator purchases must be ‘approved’ by that brewery/pub retailer.

The vast majority of business is with pub retailers and so operators tend to purchase the machines that are approved by the most pub retailers.

As such manufacturers also speak to pub retailers to try and gain ‘approvals’ for their machines. The more approvals you get the more machines you will theoretically sell.

2. When do manufacturers sell machines?

A typical machine will sell over a period of up to 3 months. Each pub retailer will have a set number of machines that have to be purchased new for them each month by each operator. These are called ‘injection’ machines and are counted as a KPI (key performance indicator) by most retailers. For example a Willy Wonga would have been an injection machine in November/December last year. So each operator has to buy a set number of ‘injection’ machines each month and they is usually a choice of 3-4 models each month from various manufacturers. As each retailer may approve different models the operator has to inject the model with the appropriate approvals into each account.

This gives manufacturers a very small window of opportunity when it comes to selling a particular model.

3. How are machines approved?

For a machine to gain approvals it must be industry tested. A machine test usually last up to 8wks. Generally 25-50 test machines will be produced of each model and sited spread across a range of different retailers and types of pubs (i.e. managed/tenanted). Machines are ranked on the following criteria:

a) Index (%) – this is an index of average net balance (ANB) against the previous machine that occupied the position. If the current test machines ANB was £110 and the previous model sited was £100 then the index of the test machine would be 110%. Clearly an index of above 100% is generally required to gain an approval.

b) Average ANB – this is the average net balance of machines being tested. We are looking for machines that have a decent ANB and one that is comparable to other machines sited.

c) % pay-out – this is the average % pay-out of machines on test. We are looking here to check that machines hit their target %. Machines too low may give a good index and ANB but this is not a fair comparison with other machines sited.

d) Success rate (%) – the % of machines indexing above 100%.

During the test phase performance is closely monitored and then a decision is usually made on whether to grant an approval by 8wks. Exceptional models may be approved more quickly and models that are weaker may be approved later.

Here is a very old testing graph from 2013 for Return of the Count to give you a flavour of the test process. The Index and ANB are being compared to other machines sited in the same locations:

[Image: ROTC%20Test.jpg][/URL]

4. What keeps manufactures in business?

Approvals. Without these we cannot survive as operators will not be able to purchase our machines.

5. Manufacturer vs. Operators vs. Pubs

I often read on the forum that operators, in particular, are greedy. This too is sometimes also said of manufacturers. This is often discussed in terms of why are machines so controlled – i.e. greedy operators asking for more control, lower % pay-out etc.

I assure you this is absolutely not the case. The vast majority of the cashbox goes to the pub with a very small share going to the operator. This share is so small that most operators struggle to survive.

Examples of this are:

Leisure Link – pulled out of the pub market in 2008 after losing £1m per period.

Claremont – pulled out of the pub market in 2013.

??????? - Another major operator went into administration only this week.

Machine % setting is generally governed by the pub (sometimes the operator) and the normal target is generally 76%. It is law to display this on machines so what is displayed is what the machine is set to.

6. 'Control' of the ‘DOND’ feature.

So, what are the problems? The main area here is that 'controlled' ‘DOND’ games outperform those games with less control. The current crop of BFG and Reflex machines have done exceptionally well in terms of cashbox. They hit their % pretty much week in, week out and provide a stable cashbox for the pub retailer. Of course, the problem has become more apparent since we went to £100 as to have a more random game with a larger prize is to create a machine with even more erratic performance – as such there is now more 'control'!

The test process adds to the problem as we all need stable performance during this period in order to gain the all-important approvals. Having the potential for fluctuation during this phase is not preferable as a failed test can easily cost a manufacturer £100k and the margins on selling machines are not what they used to be - we certainly cannot afford failures.

As the test phase is 8wks it cannot weed out machines that may be great for the test but lack longevity going forward. This can mean that the genuinely good games, that give a better return over say 12-16wks do not get through test whereas poorer games that may do well for 4-6wks until players get fed up of them get approved.
I suppose the problem has gained momentum as when BFG started to add control to their games the other manufacturers have been forced to follow to be able to compete in cashbox terms and gain the all-important approvals. This has led to more and more 'controlled' games to the point where the player is pissed off at not getting what they perceive to be a fair game – totally understandably too!

So, we have the problem in that machines are designed to get approved and to deliver consistent cashbox returns. Working to produce this limits what we can do in terms of offering a ‘less-controlled’ game.

What is your opinion on the perceived 'control' of G-Squared machines ‘DOND’ style features? Excluding Kung Fu Pounda and High Voltage (as these two where developed separately from the rest)?

Return of the Count
Willy Wonga
Bank Job Loadsa Loot

I’m only talking about the ‘DOND’ feature and would Welcome feedback as to how you feel they compare with other manufactures in terms of control?

7. What can be done?

We need to find a compromise between playability and performance. Ultimately I want G-Squared machines to be the player’s choice when you are deciding which games to play. As such we need to take small steps to addressing the issue and make changes to our games. This will not be overnight and will take time but we will be trying concepts this year to try and reach the all-important compromise and ensure that our machines have longevity on site. Please bear with us as I’ve only been on the board since January and already small changes have been made to our late March/April release suggested by several members on this board – more to be revealed nearer the time.

8. Conclusion.

Ultimately everything in our industry is cashbox driven, that is fact. The machines that generate the highest returns will be the ones that gain approvals and the ones you end up seeing in pubs. The reason you currently see controlled games is that these are generating higher returns than the games that went before them. This is compounded by the test process as we need maximum return for 8wks which does not lend itself to the style of game design we all want to see.

As such we have to find a way to create a ‘less-controlled’ game that is somehow stable and produces a cashbox to better that of a ‘controlled’ game. This is not easy, it is risky but we do have some ideas. These will filter into some G2 product this year but it will be a few months. In the meantime we have made some more straight-forward changes to games that we being testing in 8-10wks time. I will discuss these once the machines are on test.

I want to point out that I do not agree with the way things are. I am just explaining openly and honestly why things are the way that they are.

Do I want an ever decreasing player base? No.

Do I want machines that require changing more frequently? No.

Do I want to ultimately see fewer machines in pubs because we have lost players due to ‘controlled’ games? No.

Am I am an operator/manufacturer that makes millions? Sadly not.

We are struggling with trying to satisfy all parties, it’s not easy but I hope for the sake of the industry we can come up with something or more and more fruit machine spaces will be lost to food.

With this in mind I again invite any members to visit G-Squared and talk to me and the team about ideas/concepts or anything machine related. We are here pretty much all the time so weekdays/weekends/evenings are all possible….

Just send me a PM if you are interested.

Hope this helps explain things.

Andy

PS. When I show you the next game bear in mind it was developed before I was on here. It’s a clone but of a game G-Squared has not done before. It has great artwork and SFX but the game changes are from the model after next .

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#2
One important point if wanting to implement a less controlled DOND game is that we want a physical reel.  Even if the box is rigged to a certain extent the eliminations should be fair so at least there is a potential for a finish offer (Oh, and that doesn't mean offer a £10 £100 finish and offer something stupid like £38 I'm looking at a certain Worst Offer there Bell Fruit!)

One of my favourite ever fruit machines is Deal Or No Deal East And West Wing.  It has a fair Deal game which can happily upgrade from time to time, and I actually find the boards interesting to play (They are fairly predictable at times I will admit but I'm happy in the knowledge that there are ZERO game over squares and that even if you land on a hazard with DOND open you can press 'Play DOND'!)

In a location near me it has now lasted 3-4 months whereas before the location was changing their machine every 3-4 weeks!  The fact it has remained on the iPub digital machines since they launched I would guess means it is a pretty solid performer in terms of the numbers...
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#3
(02-14-2015, 01:02 PM)ridye Wrote: One important point if wanting to implement a less controlled DOND game is that we want a physical reel.  Even if the box is rigged to a certain extent the eliminations should be fair so at least there is a potential for a finish offer (Oh, and that doesn't mean offer a £10 £100 finish and offer something stupid like £38 I'm looking at a certain Worst Offer there Bell Fruit!)

One of my favourite ever fruit machines is Deal Or No Deal East And West Wing.  It has a fair Deal game which can happily upgrade from time to time, and I actually find the boards interesting to play (They are fairly predictable at times I will admit but I'm happy in the knowledge that there are ZERO game over squares and that even if you land on a hazard with DOND open you can press 'Play DOND'!)

In a location near me it has now lasted 3-4 months whereas before the location was changing their machine every 3-4 weeks!  The fact it has remained on the iPub digital machines since they launched I would guess means it is a pretty solid performer in terms of the numbers...

Hi Ridye,

Game after Mutant Ninja Gerbils we have brought back the reel and will put this on as many games as possible as like you we feel this is important.

With regards to DOND EWWW you are right as this did well in cashbox terms too, one of the rare less controlled machines that did.

Not sure how it would fair now against DOND TBO, Box 23, VIP etc but it does have some staying power.

Andy

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#4
A very informative write-up. Makes a pleasant change to have someone from the industry speaking so openly.

To me, the outlook for high-techs looks bleak. Nearly every game has a DOND element. Many manufacturers play it safe by slavishly following BFM. Innovation is somewhat lacking as a result. Even attempts to revive classics like Rollercoaster have backfired horribly. A great many machines now are horribly-coded efforts which pay 100 out for 500+ in.
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#5
Midas touch for example - how is it possible for that to take over £500 to pay a cashpot or mega streak? Ridye and I had that scenario not long ago.

Aside from that, a very informative post Andy, thank you :)
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#6
(02-14-2015, 05:12 PM)Pilsburydoughman Wrote: Midas touch for example - how is it possible for that to take over £500 to pay a cashpot or mega streak? Ridye and I had that scenario not long ago.

Aside from that, a very informative post Andy, thank you :)

I would assume the machine you played must have had a decent payout before you played or after you left it. The VTP (value total plays) of machines in decent locations is well over £1000pw so it's possible to put that type of money through and not see a good return.

Over the course of a week the machine will return its %.

I haven't played Midas Toych so assume it has a lumpy profile.

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#7
Midas Touch has a profile that's so rigged, if I'm on it longer than half an hour I want to kill myself due to sheer boredom. First round of GG, bye bye CASHPOT. Second round, bye bye MEGA STREAK. Virtually ALL THE TIME lol
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#8
I'd just like to add that this is a great topic Andy. Thanks for writing it. There are different elements of "control to the DOND game" out there. Some rig just the box, fine. However others rig the eliminations as well which is a bit of a piss take to the player.
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#9
(02-14-2015, 05:29 PM)Slasher Wrote: Midas Touch has a profile that's so rigged, if I'm on it longer than half an hour I want to kill myself due to sheer boredom. First round of GG, bye bye CASHPOT. Second round, bye bye MEGA STREAK. Virtually ALL THE TIME lol

I'll have a look next time one comes through the depot, it's middle of the road performance wise.

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#10
(02-14-2015, 05:31 PM)Slasher Wrote: I'd just like to add that this is a great topic Andy. Thanks for writing it. There are different elements of "control to the DOND game" out there. Some rig just the box, fine. However others rig the eliminations as well which is a bit of a piss take to the player.

Quite a few people asked so I thought it best to start a thread rather than have the info spread over lots of different threads. I'm not sure we'll see a totally random DOND in the future but I'm sure there is a sensible middle ground.

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#11
why are you even allowed to release games that 'rig' elements of a game. In my opinion it's unfair and is misleading. Someone should open up the fair play campaign. We AT LEAST want a disclaimer sticker on the machine to say 'sorry the higher wins may not be obtainable on this machine'.

Pub fruits completely bore me and have done for years. Can't wait for the day when I can walk into a Wetherspoons and play on a 777.
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#12
Andy, many thanks for taking your time to explains things, in a clear, and non condescending manor..... it's a discussion I have had with Chuzzy (Of the famed bar-x chuzzy kit) a few times before, but found he was not as open with what he was talking about.

Least there is someone in the trade that at least gives a dam what the player is thinking, and taking their feedback in to consideration.
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#13
Excellent topic Andy, at least it helps give an insight as to why the games are taking the direction they are and maybe help people understand a bit better. Brilliant to have someone from the industry who's actually giving a shit, talking to and listening to suggestions from the player. Now all I am hoping is you deliver on what you describe as the new gen machines you are currently developing.
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#14
(02-14-2015, 01:02 PM)ridye Wrote: One important point if wanting to implement a less controlled DOND game is that we want a physical reel.  Even if the box is rigged to a certain extent the eliminations should be fair so at least there is a potential for a finish offer (Oh, and that doesn't mean offer a £10 £100 finish and offer something stupid like £38 I'm looking at a certain Worst Offer there Bell Fruit!)

Also it's the fairness of the DOND game coming back. It's one thing to be left with a £6 box or offer but another when it's a further £30 to see the DOND game again.

So we have:

Randomness of the box that's span in
Randomness of the eliminations
Fairness of the offers based on what's left
Fairness of the game coming back

The £70 version of EWWW already mentioned seemed to tick all the boxes most of the time - the £100 not quite so much.
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#15
(02-14-2015, 09:06 PM)AMK Wrote: why are you even allowed to release games that 'rig' elements of a game. In my opinion it's unfair and is misleading. Someone should open up the fair play campaign. We AT LEAST want a disclaimer sticker on the machine to say 'sorry the higher wins may not be obtainable on this machine'.

Pub fruits completely bore me and have done for years. Can't wait for the day when I can walk into a Wetherspoons and play on a 777.

Hi AMK,

All machines state their RTP (return to player) very clearly. Before you play you can see on average what your return will be. If the machines states 76% payout that is the return so it's not unfair (in my opinion). We are telling you before you play that if you put £1000 through a machines you are more than likely going to walk away with £760. It's quite a skill to make any game that takes 24% of money in attractive to the player but I agree it's got to the point where control is too tight.

We are working on it but it's very hard as the controlled games do very well in cashbox terms. All I can say is they do hit their % week in , week out. We just have to find a way to make the games less predictable and open up the profiles a bit.

T7s are exactly the same except the RTP is much higher (86%+) but that's because these are generally sited in premises where the primary purpose is gambling and so the VTP is high and the machines can therefore afford to payout more.

You will not see T7s in pubs as they do not work and the VRP is not high enough to sustain their higher payout.

Andy

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#16
(02-15-2015, 11:18 AM)dondplayer Wrote:
(02-14-2015, 01:02 PM)ridye Wrote: One important point if wanting to implement a less controlled DOND game is that we want a physical reel.  Even if the box is rigged to a certain extent the eliminations should be fair so at least there is a potential for a finish offer (Oh, and that doesn't mean offer a £10 £100 finish and offer something stupid like £38 I'm looking at a certain Worst Offer there Bell Fruit!)

Also it's the fairness of the DOND game coming back. It's one thing to be left with a £6 box or offer but another when it's a further £30 to see the DOND game again.

So we have:

Randomness of the box that's span in
Randomness of the eliminations
Fairness of the offers based on what's left
Fairness of the game coming back

The £70 version of EWWW already mentioned seemed to tick all the boxes most of the time - the £100 not quite so much.

I agree with all of the above. Realistically the box that spins in will always have an element of control but it's how much if an element we have to get right.

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#17
(02-14-2015, 10:19 PM)Tommo Wrote: Excellent topic Andy, at least it helps give an insight as to why the games are taking the direction they are and maybe help people understand a bit better. Brilliant to have someone from the industry who's actually giving a shit, talking to and listening to suggestions from the player. Now all I am hoping is you deliver on what you describe as the new gen machines you are currently developing.

I hope we get it right too, it's such a difficult balance to strike. We will do our best.

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#18



the controlled games do very well in cashbox terms. All I can say is they do hit their % week in , week out. We just have to find a way to make the games less predictable and open up the profiles a bit.

ANDY

[/quote]

So before they became so controlled like they are now, like in the £35 and early £70 days and even before this in the £25 and £15 days, they didn't hit there % week in, week out and didn't do well in cashbox takings? cos if that's the case how did they last in pubs so long, im my opinion it's only started going like this in the last 2 years with rigged features and forced wins, machines must have done well before rigged DOND games and features, otherwise they wouldn't have lasted or been approved, so why not now
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#19
Also 76% payout is a complete joke.

Won't be long until alot of potential custom just plays online for high 90% payouts with the chance of actually winning something half decent.
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#20
(02-15-2015, 06:55 PM)Damo0666 Wrote:
(02-15-2015, 06:02 PM)andy1234 Wrote:



the controlled games do very well in cashbox terms. All I can say is they do hit their % week in , week out. We just have to find a way to make the games less predictable and open up the profiles a bit.

ANDY

So before they became so controlled like they are now, like in the £35 and early £70 days and even before this in the £25 and £15 days, they didn't hit there % week in, week out and didn't do well in cashbox takings? cos if that's the case how did they last in pubs so long, im my opinion it's only started going like this in the last 2 years with rigged features and forced wins, machines must have done well before rigged DOND games and features, otherwise they wouldn't have lasted or been approved, so why not now
[/quote]

Talking purely about games with a 'DOND' feature they previously hit their % but over a longer period. Performance was good but newer games better.

I want the sand things as you....just so long as we can get our machines approved.

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