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 Are developers trying to turn slots players into gamers or is it simply the evolution of slots?

At a major casino exhibition in Las Vegas recently, one of the interesting stories wasn’t of Playtech’s newest progressive slot or NetEnt’s latest animated masterclass, but of IGT’s new slot, set to be rolled out in 2015: a slot version of the classic arcade game, Centipede.

If you’ve never played Centipede, the idea is simple: a multi-legged monster works its way down the screen towards you, and it’s up to you to shoot its little legs off before it can reach the bottom.

What’s so new about a slot based on arcade games, you may wonder. After all, Call of Duty has its own slot, as does the classic Playstation title, Worms, and a host of other classic computer games have slots recalling nostalgic times.

Well, the difference with IGT’s game is that it has a big element of skill attached. The player can convert points by shooting the virtual creepy crawlies as they move down the screen. In fact, what makes the game more unique is the 2-player mode: if two gamblers sit down at an identical machine in the casino, the better shot will walk away with more cash.

IGT game designer Keith Hughes said:

“We’re figuring out how to deliver video games to players in a wagering environment, and this game is helping us figure out the best way to do it.”

In fact, other slots developers like WMS and Aristocrat are busy planning their own slots skill games, so we could see a Space Invaders game where you earn more bucks the more UFOs you shoot down, or Pacman where gobbling pills will bank you more bonus wins.

Bally – one of the slots world’s biggest developers – is taking a similar path. Two of its newer games, Skee-Ball and Total Blast allow players to log their initials into the game’s scoreboard, with results – and bragging rights – displayed for all to see on Facebook.

We’ve been here before, of course. In 2008, Kwari was set up as the world’s first first-person shooter you could play online for real cash. Every bomb, bullet and grenade that lands on your opponent earns you money in real time, but the makers seemed to forget that first-person shooters’ primary target audience – teenage boys – would probably be too young to qualify to play it.

But it’s the new social media element that is most interesting. These new games appeal to a demographic who are old enough to gamble, remember the classic arcade games, AND be socially media-savvy.

So 2015 presents an interesting year in the development of slot gaming technology and we wait to see how games like Centipede grow in popularity with players.