WMS International Sebastian Salat interview

The merger of two leading companies within gaming, Scientific Games and WMS, has brought together two established players in the industry with complementary strengths.  The combined entity is bringing new levels of service and a broad array of products to its customers. WMS International, based in Barcelona, has the task of flying the new flag in the international marketplaces outside of the U.S. and Canada.

Ricki Chavez-Munoz, International Editor, travelled to picturesque Rubi, some 25 miles north of the city of Barcelona, for a chat with Sebastian Salat, President, WMS International, the man who represents this global gaming industry leader.

RCM: Are there any fundamental changes in WMS International following the Scientific Games fusion?

SEBASTIAN SALAT: “By WMS and Scientific Games joining forces, we are able  to offer customers a fully-integrated catalogue of software, hardware, content and services. We draw on each organization’s core strengths to broaden offerings, bring gaming and lottery products to new channels, sectors and geographies. WMS operates independently, as in the past, however, our merged efforts amplify our talent, resources, content and technology to deliver the innovation necessary in today’s marketplace.”

RCM: There is the sense that SG’s presence in the EMEA and Latin American gaming markets is not as broad as WMS International. As gaming develops further in Latin America, how would WMS presence be enhanced in view of the advance of other companies with localized gaming products?

SEBASTIAN SALAT: “Scientific Games has a significant presence in EMEA and a very solid position in the region as a leading supplier to lotteries. Scientific Games has previously focused its gaming machine business to server-based operations and video lotteries in the United Kingdom, Mexico and the Caribbean. 

On the other hand, WMS is an established global leader in these regions with Class II and Class III gaming machines.  We are now able to strengthen our position with SG’s local market knowledge and ample geographic presence, as well as SG’s experience in video lottery management systems.”

RCM: Which localized products will you be marketing in Latin America?

SEBASTIAN SALAT: “We have demonstrated our dedication to customers around the world, Latin America included, with a series of localized products that offer an extensive array of unique and dynamic entertainment experiences. With a stronger focus on local needs and preferences, WMS recently launched five Local Area Progressive themes: Colossal Jackpots, Winning Fortune, Monster Progressives, Jackpot Party Progressive Deluxe and Treasures of the World. These games, as well as our Game Chest Multi-Game series, were created with the particular needs of our international customers in mind. The Game Chest Multi-Game series, which was displayed at ICE 2014, supports different languages and currencies. The multiple unique game sets are each comprised of a proven mix of WMS Gaming content. Through the combined efforts of Scientific Games and WMS, the new product line takes into consideration the needs and sensibilities of markets around the world more than ever before, providing localized solutions from a truly global company.”

RCM: Speaking of ICE 2014, how was it for WMS International? Which products were mostly in demand?

SEBASTIAN SALAT: “At ICE 2014, we had the opportunity to present the combination of Scientific Games with WMS, and the wider range of products and services that we can now offer. Customers had the chance to see how the larger scale of the combined organization serves to position us as a global leader within our industry. 

WMS is focused on delivering value to casino operators throughout the world with a full range of gaming solutions, emphasizing the enhanced graphics and player engagement enabled by the next-generation CPU-NXT3 operating platform, and the Blade and Gamefield xD cabinets. These cabinets are among the industry’s strongest performers, capturing player attention and reaffirming WMS as a leader in content and innovation. Also, the Blade Stepper, introduced for the first time in Europe at ICE, was designed to combine the authenticity and thrill specific to classic mechanical reel play with features that fit seamlessly on today’s casino floors. The Blade Stepper themes, with both high and low denominations available, provide the player with a pure gambling experience centered on winning jackpots. 

To bring customers and players a wide variety of exceptional gaming experiences, WMS also showcased an expansive library of games that combine groundbreaking play mechanics with iconic licensed entertainment, including such powerful brands as BEETLEJUICE and CLUE brands, as well as new content for player-favorite brands of WMS, such as MONOPOLY, THE WIZARD OF OZ, WILLY WONKA & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY and Jackpot Party themes. In addition, new and groundbreaking for-sale themes were displayed at ICE. This includes a number of new game series on the CPU-NXT3 platform, such as Exploding Pays, Supercharged Reels, Reel Intensity, Speed Spins and Monster Progressives themes, the next-generation of Colossal Reels games, as well as the Gold Fish3 theme, the first-ever premium for-sale CPU-NXT3 game for WMS.

At G2E Asia 2014, we highlighted the WMS products tailored to the Asian marketplace, and were particularly excited to present our new Asian Blade themes, including the Any Way Fortune Ruler theme, Extreme Symbols Spirit of Dragon and Horse theme, and 5×4 Reels Mu Guiying and Rich Little Piggies themes. In addition, we showcased our Local Area Progressive Winning Fortune Progressives games, known as “Yi Lu Fa” (“Path to Prosperity”) within the Macau market, launching on three unique base themes : the Far East Fortunes Deluxe, Dragon’s Legend, and Wishing You Fortune themes.”

RCM: The Bluebird Platform has developed an aura of invincibility, which is most evident in the Latin American markets, and it must be quite difficult to follow on such success. With this in mind, how is the Blade platform performing? 

SEBASTIAN SALAT: “It is true that the Bluebird brand enjoys enormous prestige throughout the world, and Latin America in particular.

In addition to the strong commercial performance of the games, the Bluebird brand has achieved a technological renaissance that allows operators to continually update their products. When many of our competitors were launching a new platform each year, WMS offered our customers ways to upgrade both the cabinet and the Bluebird processor, with the objective to extend operators’ return on investment.  WMS wanted to offer operators the ability to update their machines, to prolong their technical and commercial life. With this goal in mind, WMS turned first the Bluebird and later the Bluebird 2 into products of great value for the operator.

Our Blade platform was developed to go a step further technologically. The Blade cabinet features innovative game mechanics and fantastic graphics enabled by the powerful CPU-NXT3 processor that is expected to attract our regular players, and also those new generations of players that have a familiarity with and affinity for technology.”       

RCM: What are the next events in Latin America where WMS will showcase?
SEBASTIAN SALAT: “We will have a presence at FADJA, PGS and SAGSE in Latin America. G2E Las Vegas, held in the U.S., is a very popular event with our Latin-American customers, who make the trip there to see the latest product offerings.

However, we believe that it is also important to complement our participation in the shows with  frequent visits to our customers.”

RCM: Now for the last question: How do you envisage the future for Scientific Games on the gaming industry map?   

SEBASTIAN SALAT: “Players nowadays, just as consumers in general, demand new experiences in the commercial offering from casinos. It is no longer enough to impress a player with an ordinary platform and game, especially which may be available through other distribution channels, such as online.  Manufacturers must be dedicated to developing new games and new platforms that capture players’ interests and offer a unique experience. This is necessary to satisfy the consumer’s taste for change and innovation, and is enabled through a solid financial standing. Additionally, the speed of technological and geopolitical change has created a generation of new opportunities that, as with all opportunities, will carry its fair share of risk.

The consolidation of SG and WMS has given us an enhanced organization with the critical mass to continue investing in the creation of gaming products that are innovative and engaging. The larger scale of the combined organization offers customers a one-stop service for lottery, casino and online gaming—a complete gaming solution that can be leveraged to reach players where they are, when they want to play, and in the channel they choose.” 

We were fortunate to spend some memorable moments with Sebastian Salat and delve into the wealth of experience he has gained from years of “walking the walk.” Sebastian has indeed made his way the world over, particularly around Latin America, but this is material for another feature and another time.