CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
- STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSERED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
This application claims the benefit of provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/714,434, filed Sep. 6, 2005 by the present inventor.
- SEQUENCE LISTING OR PROGRAM
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field Of Invention
This invention generally relates to gaming devices, specifically to casino gaming devices and methods with enhanced player interactivity.
2. Prior Art
From the casino operator's perspective, the most effective gaming devices are those that generate the greatest profits for the casino. Casino gaming device profits are a result of two factors, game popularity or play frequency (volume) and game play hold percentage (profit margin).
At its heart, gambling appeal is a matter of risk and reward. Something is risked—a wager, in hopes of obtaining a reward—a monetary jackpot. The reward can be described as having two factors; size, and frequency. Obviously, the greatest gambling appeal is derived from large, frequently occurring rewards. However, for a gaming device to be successful, it must also prove profitable for the casino operator. Over the life of the game it must take in more money than it pays out. This prevents gaming devices from having large rewards that occur with great frequency. Gaming devices, as exemplified by prior art, have attempted to meet the challenge of balancing reward size and reward frequency. The larger the reward, the less frequently it can occur while still maintaining player interest and casino operator profitability, conversely, a smaller award can occur with greater frequency. The size and frequency of awards are the two greatest factors gaming device developers have historically manipulated in an attempt to create games that maintain appeal of gambling.
To achieve maximum profitability the casino operator would like to minimize player monetary reward. However, if the reward is not sufficiently appealing to the players, the game will not be played and profits will plummet. The casino operator has to find a balance between providing games that are played infrequently, but retain a larger portion of each wager placed as casino profit (greater margins), and providing games that will be played with greater frequency but retain less of each wager as casino profit (greater volume). The core of this problem is that the casino operator has historically had to sacrifice profitability to create player appeal. This is similar to a shop keep who keeps his prices very low in an effort to attract and retain customers.
The very first gaming devices had little inherent entertainment value and player appeal was generated almost exclusively by manipulation of the gambling appeal factors—risk and reward. As game development has matured, game developers have realized that by providing greater inherent entertainment value, the actual monetary player reward can be reduced while still maintaining player appeal. If players are entertained by the graphics, sounds, and general game play, they will be willing to play a game for a longer amount of time between monetary rewards. Greater profit margins can be realized by providing more entertaining games.
Many of the newest games provide the bulk of their entertainment value through the use of Hollywood-style graphics and sounds. Unfortunately many of these games eventually begin to lose their appeal as players become familiar and eventually disinterested in them. This has led to an escalation in the game replacement cycle, and greater capital equipment costs for the casino operators, as they have to frequently replace the games that are waning in popularity with newer, and hopefully more popular, games. As a result, competition among gaming device manufacturers, in the effort to provide the casino operators a constant stream of new appealing games, is significant.
Beside Hollywood-style graphics and sounds, the other element that has been used to successfully create player entertainment value is game play or interactivity. It can be argued that games with greater interactivity-based entertainment value hold their appeal to players for a longer duration, hence extending the games life-cycle.
The various U.S. jurisdiction gaming authorities have a number of design and manufacturing regulations that are intended to both protect the players from unscrupulous manufacturers or operators, and to provide a measurable level of game performance accountability for audit and tax purposes. Unfortunately, these regulations have also inadvertently served to hamper manufacturer attempts at game play interactivity innovation.
A common jurisdictional requirement is that games return or pay back to the players a certain predictable percentage of all wagers over a course of time. This payback percentage varies by jurisdiction, but all gaming devices must conform to a jurisdictionally established mathematical standard of predictability. In order to comply with jurisdictional requirements, the math behind every game's win/loss probability has to be provided to, and checked by, each jurisdictional authority responsible for the geographic location in which the game will be deployed. The primary intent behind these regulations is to ensure that the players are playing gaming devices that are not unreasonably predatory.
Using methods provided by prior art, the greater the level of player interactivity, the more difficult compliance with jurisdictional regulation becomes. This is due to the fact that every variable involved in game play has to be mathematically proven in regards to probability and impact on game payback percentage. As such, the greater the level of player interactivity, the greater the number of variables that must be accounted for.
These same jurisdictional requirements have also generally prevented the development of gaming devices that incorporate any significant degree of skill. In this case it is due to the fact that the game play skill of any player is a mathematically unpredictable factor. If a player was to play a game very poorly the game payback percentage may fall beneath jurisdictional requirements. In addition the potentially wide swings in payback percentages due to player skill would make the jurisdictional performance audit process exceedingly difficult.
Traditional three-reel slot machines have very limited interactivity. The player chooses the amount to wager and then either pushes the spin button or pulls the handle to start the game. The game results are displayed and if there is any win it is either credited or paid out; all this without any further input from the player. Meeting jurisdictional regulation for this type of gaming device is mathematically relatively easy as they are uncomplicated and there is no player skill to factor in.
With the development of video poker a new level of interactivity was introduced which has proved to be very popular with players. In video poker the player is given the opportunity to hold or discard virtual cards in a machine dealt poker hand. The advent of the video poker gaming device, while highly successful, necessitated a new mathematical model for jurisdictionally required accountability and auditing regulations. While the particulars vary by jurisdiction, video poker machines in general have a minimum payback percentage which meets jurisdictional requirements regardless of player skill, and a maximum payback percentage, which is the payback percentage of the game if it is played perfectly. This model, while effective and jurisdictionally acceptable, has been difficult to incorporate outside of the video poker gaming device model.
The proliferation of video-based gaming has led to the creation of video-reel slot games designed to incorporate greater interactivity than their mechanical-reel predecessors. This is generally accomplished by the inclusion of a bonus feature. The bonus feature often takes the form of a game-within-a-game. If the player triggers a certain event while playing the primary game, the game transitions to allow the player to participate in a different game. During a bonus game the player is usually given the opportunity to make various choices or selections. Selecting one or more objects from a number of objects, each with a hidden credit value, is a common example of a bonus game. Generally a bonus game has increased payout awards and is limited in duration. At the conclusion of the bonus game the player is returned to the primary game. These bonus games are used to create player excitement through greater interactivity. Examples include U.S. Pat. No. 5,851,148 to C T Brune et. al. (Dec. 22, 1998), U.S. Pat. No. 6,126,542 to R B Fier (Oct. 3, 2000), U.S. Pat. No. 6,609,971 to O Vancura (Aug. 26, 2003), and U.S. Pat. No. 6,852,028 to O Vancura (Feb. 8, 2005).
The prior art bonus games exemplified above add a level of player interactivity without adding a skill factor. Prior art bonus game examples typically allow the player to choose from a number of predetermined—hence predictable, ‘paths’. The various possible paths and their resulting impact on the games payback percentage have been mathematically calculated and weighted according to frequency of occurrence. This method of mathematically determining and weighting bonus game probabilities according to frequency of occurrence is limiting by nature. As discussed previously, the more complicated the choices and variables involved in the bonus game, the more difficult it is to accurately do the math to determine the games payback percentage. Exceedingly difficult calculations may result in extended time getting the game approved by the various jurisdictional authorities or undetected math errors. If a math error is discovered after the gaming device is deployed it can result in an expensive recall and/or jurisdictional censure.
Besides Hollywood-style visual and auditory entertainment, and providing a degree of interactive based entertainment, another method used to increase gaming device appeal is to offer a progressive jackpot; a jackpot award that continues to grow in size until it is won. The progressive jackpot concept appeals to the core gambling factors, monetary risk and reward. Player interest in the jackpot grows as the jackpot reward amount becomes greater and greater, while player risk remains constant. One additional appeal of the progressive jackpot is that players sometimes feel that they can predict the approximate time when the jackpot is ‘due’ to be hit.
In the progressive's simplest form a jackpot award amount continues to increase from a predetermined seed amount until a specific winning combination associated with the jackpot occurs. The incremental increase is normally derived by allocating a percentage of each wager placed on the participating gaming device(s) to a progressive pool escrow account. Once a player gets a winning event that triggers the payout of the progressive jackpot award, the total of the progressive seed amount plus the incremental increase is paid to the player.
Gaming regulations stipulate that the monies in the progressive pool escrow account must be returned to the players, and may not be retained by the casino as winnings or profit. However, gaming regulations do not stipulate the exact manner in which the monies must be returned. Generally, as long as the funds in the escrow account are returned to the public at some point, jurisdictional requirements are met. The progressive pool escrow account funds may be transferred to a different game, which commonly occurs when a progressive gaming device is removed from the gaming floor with funds remaining in the progressive pool account. In certain situations, the monies in the progressive pool escrow account may even be transferred to another casino or given away in a regulated drawing.
In many cases a number of identically programmed progressive equipped gaming devices are connected by a computer network that allows a shared progressive pool to be increased by a percentage of each wager made on any of the networked gaming devices. The first player to trigger the winning event gets the progressive jackpot award. The progressive jackpot award then resets to the seed amount and the cycle begins again. The gaming devices involved in a ‘networked progressive’ may be located on the same site or across a number of states. Networked progressives that are not located on the same site are often referred to as ‘wide area progressives’.
Some progressive jackpots are tiered, having a number of different progressive award amounts, each triggered by a different winning event. A recent example of a ‘tiered progressive’ is U.S. Pat. Appl. No. 20,050,055,113 by M Gauselmann (Mar. 10, 2005).
Another variation in the progressive concept, the ‘mystery progressive’, has a networked progressive jackpot award which is not based on the triggering of a game specific winning event, rather it is awarded once specific predetermined criteria unknown to the players has been reached. Examples of this type of progressive are U.S. Pat. No. 5,280,909 to Tracey (Jan. 25, 1994), U.S. Pat. No. 6,319,125 to J Acres (Nov. 20, 2001), and U.S. Pat. No. 6,910,964 to J Acres (Jun. 28, 2005). Once this predefined criteria has been met the progressive jackpot amount is awarded to one of the participating gaming devices.
The advent of the player tracking system, in which each participating player's play history is recorded on a network server, has led to the development of a new variation of the progressive jackpot—the ‘personal progressive’ as illustrated in U.S. Pat. No. 6,776,715 to D Price (Aug. 17, 2004). The personal progressive increments a progressive jackpot pool specific to the player, the details of which are held on a centralized server that is connected to all participating gaming devices. The player may play any participating gaming devices. The player's wagering is recorded on a centralized server, and the player's personal progressive pool is incremented with each recorded wager. When a certain criteria or winning event occurs, as defined by the server, the player is awarded from their own personal progressive pool, the award generally transferred electronically from the centralized server to the player's gaming machine.
Progressive jackpot machines generally meet jurisdictional accountability and audit requirements by deducting the incremental amount allocated from each wager placed directly from the games base hold percentage. In other words, if 2% of each wager placed goes to the progressive pool, 2% is added to the game's mathematically determined payback percentage. As an example; a slot machine with a normal payback percentage of 92% (which inversely means it has an 8% hold) has a top award of $1000. The casino operator decides to enable this slot machine's progressive feature, retains a seed top award of $1000, and chooses to increment the progressive pool at 2%. Therefore 2% of every wager placed goes to the progressive pool. Now the casino operator will account for the game as a 94% payback percentage or inversely a 6% hold. This makes sense because the 2% initially deducted will be returned to a player; the player who receives the progressive pool jackpot award. In the interim the casino operator only serves as the ‘custodian’ of the players' money allocated to the progressive pool escrow account.
As discussed prior art examples of gaming devices face the following limitations and disadvantages:
(A). as the gaming market continues to expand and gaming devices continue to evolve, the entertainment value of the bonus features and progressive awards as embodied by prior art has begun to wane. Hollywood-style ‘re-packaging’ of prior art examples of video gaming machines, using the same interactive ‘skeleton’ with a different graphic ‘skin’ has begun to yield diminishing returns in regard to player appeal;
(B). prior art examples of video-reel slot gaming devices with interactive play have been limited in scope and function due to the difficulty and jurisdictional restrictions associated with game math probability;
(C). manufacturers have been generally unsuccessful in migrating the functionality and skill based play features enjoyed by prior art examples of video poker machines into other video based gaming devices;
(D). the future player base of casino gaming machines will expect greater levels of interactivity in their gaming product than currently available. Having grown up playing extremely interactive games at home, current gaming devices as exemplified by prior art will hold little appeal;
(E). casino operators and the manufacturers that supply them need a product that will enable them to create increasingly interactive games if they expect to capture the evolving game machine market;
(F). the lack of interactive game play innovation, and the resulting reliance by manufacturers on the use of Hollywood-style audio and visuals as the sole means of providing entertainment value has led to games with a reduced operational life-cycle and increased casino operator capital equipment expenditures.
- OBJECTS AND ADVANTAGES
What is needed is a gaming method and apparatus that meets jurisdictional requirements while adding greater player entertainment value by incorporating a new form of player interactivity.
Accordingly, several objects and advantages of the invention are:
(A). it provides for gaming devices to be developed with previously unrealized levels of interactive game play;
(B). it provides for gaming devices to be developed that have elements of game play functionality that are comparable to today's home-based console video games, thus enabling gaming devices to be developed that appeal to the emerging game machine market;
(C). it provides for the creation of interactive gaming machines with increasing play complexity while minimizing the mathematical difficulties and limitations faced by current art;
(D). it enables the creation of skill based video-reel slot gaming machines that are comparable in functionality to video poker machines;
(E). it simplifies the jurisdictionally required math, thereby speeding the approval process;
(F). by simplifying the jurisdictionally required math, the likelihood of a math error being discovered after the game has been released may be reduced, which may result in a reduction of associated expenses;
(G). by providing frequent Non-Monetary reward to the player, volume of play and profitability will be increased.
Further objects and advantages will become apparent from a consideration of the ensuing description and drawings.
In accordance with the invention, in the preferred embodiment, a portion of each wager is divided between two escrow accounts. One serves as a conventional progressive pool (possibly networked across a number of gaming devices), while the other serves as a gaming device specific cache account. When the player hits a predetermined winning combination he triggers a game feature, the ‘Progressive Challenge’, in which the player is given the option to wager either some or all of the amount in the device specific cache account in an attempt to win some or the entire amount of the conventional progressive pool account. If the player fails to win, the amount the player wagered from the device specific cache is transferred to the conventional progressive pool.
During game play the player also has the opportunity to win additional Non-Monetary awards which are used to increase the player's odds to win the ‘Progressive Challenge’.
Sheet 1 of 6
FIG. 1 shows a simplified functional block diagram of the preferred embodiment of a gaming device according to the present invention.
Sheet 2 of 6
FIG. 2 shows a flow diagram of game play of the preferred embodiment of a gaming device according to the present invention.
Sheet 3 of 6
FIG. 3 shows a flow diagram of spin resolution of the preferred embodiment of a gaming device according to the present invention.
Sheet 4 of 6
FIG. 4 shows a flow diagram of bonus resolution of the preferred embodiment of a gaming device according to the present invention.
Sheet 5 of 6
FIG. 5 shows a flow diagram of accepted challenge resolution of the preferred embodiment of a gaming device according to the present invention.
Sheet 6 of 6
- DRAWINGS—REFERENCE NUMERALS
FIG. 6 shows a flow diagram of refused challenge resolution of the preferred embodiment of a gaming device according to the present invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION—PREFERRED EMBODIMENT—FIG. 1
- 1. Player wager.
- 1 a. Conventional Progressive Pool.
- 1 b. Device Specific Cache Account.
- 2. Player Tracking Card.
- 3. Gaming Device.
- 3 a. Display.
- 3 b. Player Tracking Card Interface.
- 3 c. Player Interface.
- 3 d. Player Payment Device.
- 3 e. Wager Acceptance Device.
- 4. Processor.
- 4 a. Random Number Generator.
- 4 b. Game Pay Table.
- 5. Play Game.
- 6. Player Select Wager and Play Options.
- 7. Player Spin.
- 8. Resolve Spin Round.
- 9. Did Player Win Conventional or Non-Monetary Award?.
- 10. Does Player Qualify For Bonus Round?
- 11. Resolve Bonus Round.
- 12. Pay Player.
- 13. Game Over.
- 14. Poll Random Number Generator (RNG).
- 15. RNG Results.
- 16. Compare RNG Results with Pay Table.
- 17. If Pay Table matches RNG results then.
- 18. Player wins Conventional or Non-Monetary Award.
- 19. If Pay Table doesn't match RNG results then.
- 20. Player doesn't win Conventional or Non-Monetary Award.
- 21. Spin Round Resolved.
- 22. Player Selects Bonus Award.
- 23. RNG Determines Bonus Results.
- 24. Bonus Award #1.
- 25. Bonus Award #2.
- 26. Bonus Award #3.
- 27. Bonus Amount Determined.
- 28. Player Makes Challenge Decision.
- 29. Option #1 Take Challenge.
- 30. Option #2 Refuse Challenge.
- 31. Option #1 With Bonus and All Device Specific Cache Account (DSCA).
- 32. Option #2 With Bonus and some DSCA.
- 33. Option #3 With Bonus and No DSCA.
- 34. Reveal Bonus Award.
- 34 a. Bonus Award.
- 35. Player Allocate Amount From DSCA.
- 36. Bonus Award+Any Non-Monetary Awards.
- 37. Total of DSCA.
- 38. Amount Allocated from DSCA.
- 39. Conventional Progressive Pool (CPP).
- 40. Player Challenge Amount (PCA).
- 41. Total Both Amounts.
- 42. Generate Random #1-100.
- 43. Total Both Amounts Divided By PCA.
- 44. Random Number Results.
- 45. % Chance Player Win (PCPW).
- 46. Is Random # Result< or=PCPW?
- 48. Player Wins Challenge.
- 49. Player Loses Challenge.
- 50. Pay Bonus, DSCA and CPP.
- 51. Pay Bonus Allocated DSCA and CPP.
- 52. Pay Bonus Progressive.
- 53. Challenge Resolved.
- 54. Bonus Resolved.
- 55. Option #1 Accept Bonus Leave DSCA.
- 56. Option #2 Accept Bonus+Cash Out DSCA.
- 57. Pay Bonus Award.
- 58. Pay Bonus Award and DSCA.
A preferred embodiment of the invention is shown in FIG. 1 as a simplified functional block diagram. It is to be understood that other embodiments may be utilized and structural changes may be made without departing from the scope of the invention.
- OPETRATION—PREFERRED EMBODIMENT—FIGS. 1-6
The Gaming Device 3 is generally comprised of a Display 3 a, a Wager Acceptance Device 3 e, a Player Interface 3 c, a Player Payment Device 3 d, a CPU 4, a Random Number Generator (RNG) 4 a and a Pay Table 4 b. Also shown are a Player Tracking Card 2 and a Player Tracking Card Interface 3 b.
As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, upon approaching the game the player may elect to insert his Player Tracking Card 2 into the Player Tracking Card interface 3 b. Once the player has deposited the funds necessary to make a Wager 1 into the Wager Acceptance Device 3 e the Gaming Device 3 becomes available for play. At the start of the game 5, the player (not shown) selects the play options and wager amount 6, using the Player Interface 3 c. In a video reel-slot game (not shown) the player would select the number of lines to be played. In a video poker game (not shown) or multi-game (not shown) the player would select the specific game type to be played.
Once the play options and wager amount 6 selection has been made the player presses a spin button 7, again using the player interface 3 c. At this time, a predetermined portion of each wager 1 is allocated to a Conventional Progressive Pool 1 a. The current total amount in the Conventional Progressive Pool 1 a may be displayed on signage (not shown) above the gaming device(s). In addition, a predetermined portion of each wager 1 is allocated to a Device Specific Cache Account 1 b. The current total amount in the Device Specific Cache Account 1 b may be reflected on the game's video display 3 a numerically or as an evolving graphic (not shown). As seen in FIG. 3, to resolve the spin 8, the Random Number Generator (RNG) 4 a is polled 14, and results 15 are compared 16 to the electronic Pay Table 4 b. If the Pay Table 4 b indicates a win according to the RNG 4 a results 17 then the player wins either a conventional or a Non-Monetary award 18. The Non-Monetary award will be represented graphically on the screen in a manner keeping with the theme of the game. The purpose of the Non-Monetary award is to improve the player's chance to win the ‘Progressive Challenge’. The exact extent the Non-Monetary award will impact the player's odds to win the ‘Progressive Challenge’ will not be made apparent to the player. Players will be able to collect numerous Non-Monetary awards, which will work in conjunction with one another to produce a cumulative effect. If the Pay Table 4 b does not match the RNG 4 a results 19 then the player doesn't win a conventional or Non-Monetary award 20, this resolves the spin round 21. Returning to FIG. 1 indicates that further comparison 16 against the Pay Table 4 b will indicate whether the player qualifies for a bonus round 10.
If the player wins a conventional jackpot or Non-Monetary award 18 and qualifies for the bonus round 10 the bonus round is resolved 11 as seen in FIG. 4. The player gets to select a bonus award 22, from the RNG 4 b determined Bonus Amounts 23. Depending on the specific games design, he may be able to choose from a number of amounts 24, 25, or 26 all of which are indicated as symbols as the actual amounts determined by the RNG 23 are hidden from the player at this point. Once the player selects a bonus award 22, the bonus is determined 27 and carried forward though the amount remains hidden. At this point the player is presented with the opportunity to accept 29 or refuse 30 the ‘Progressive Challenge’, once this decision is made, the player moves on to either take the challenge 29 or refuse the challenge 30.
If the player takes the challenge 29 as seen in FIG. 5, the amount in the hidden bonus is revealed 34. He is then presented with a number of options. In Option #1 31 the player can choose to combine the bonus award and any Non-Monetary awards acquired 36 and the entirety of the Device Specific Cache Account (DSCA) 37 to form a Player Challenge Amount (PCA) 40. In Option #2 32 the player combines the bonus award and any Non-Monetary awards acquired 36 with whatever amount of the Device Specific Cache Account they choose to allocate 38. These amounts are combined to determine the PCA 40. In Option #3 33 the player uses just the bonus award and any Non-Monetary awards acquired 36 to form the player challenge amount 40.
Continuing detail from FIG. 5 shows that to determine if the player wins or loses the challenge, the total 41 of both the Player Challenge Amount (PCA) 40 and the accumulated Conventional Progressive Pool (CPP) 39 is divided by the Player Challenge Amount (PCA) 40. The result is a % Chance of Player Win (PCPW) 45. A randomly generated number of between 1 and 100 42 is determined. If the random # result is < or =PCPW 46 then the player wins the challenge 48. If the random # result is not < or =PCPW 46 then the player loses the challenge 49. If the player wins the challenge 48 he is paid either: The bonus, the DSCA and the CPP 50 (if they chose Option #1). The bonus, the amount allocated from the DSCA for the challenge, and the CPP 51 (if they took Option #2). Or, if the player chooses Option #3, he is paid the bonus and the CPP 52. Once payment is made the challenge is resolved 53 as is the bonus round 54.
If the player refuses the challenge 30, as seen in FIG. 6, he has two options. Option #1 is to accept the bonus (as yet unrevealed) 55, or Option #2 to accept the yet unrevealed bonus and the entirety of the Machine Progressive Cache 57. Either way once a decision has been made, the bonus is revealed 34. If the player chose Option #1 the revealed bonus award 34 is paid 57. If the player chose Option #2, the revealed bonus award 34, and the accumulated Device Specific Cache Amount 37 are paid 58. This resolves the challenge 53 and the bonus round 54.
Once the bonus and challenge rounds are resolved 11 (if applicable) the play returns to the conventional play area, as seen in FIG. 1. Any conventional pays are paid 12, by either crediting the gaming device's internal credit meter (not shown) or hand pay by attendant (not shown) and the game is over 13. The player is then returned to the play game section 5. At this point the player still has credits on the machine, he may elect to play 1 again or cash out using the player payment device 3 d.
The money held in the escrow accounts is always returned to the players, however, the exact manner in which this money is returned is not subject to the same stringent jurisdictional regulations as monies that may or may not be returned to the player. This enables player-to-player, skill based, or other means of return to the players. Utilizing the escrow account concept enables the development of game play for which it would otherwise be prohibitively complicated to provide jurisdictionally required mathematical analysis due to dynamic variables.
For example, if the jurisdictional required payback percentage is 80%, all games must be mathematically proven to have a probability of returning 80% or more of the monies wagered back to the players over a course time. Providing the mathematical proof of probability involves detailing every variable involved in game play, the odds of each variable occurring, and the detail of each variables impact on the game's payback percentage. In a escrow account scenario a percentage of each wager is removed from play and held in escrow before it would be subject to the game's win/loss probability. This occurs because there is a 100% chance that the monies in the escrow account will be returned to the players. So if the jurisdictional requirement for payback percentage is 80%, and a game is developed in which 5% of each wager is allocated to an escrow account, this 5% guaranteed to be returned to the players, the game developer only has to provide the detailed mathematical probability proof for the 75% payback.
Under generally accepted jurisdictional regulations, a gaming device could be developed in which 100% of each wager is held in an escrow account and guaranteed to be retuned to the players. In this case the developer would only have to prove that this was actually occurring. The conventionally required mathematical probability proof concerning game play would not be required. Obviously, while valid, this scenario is unrealistic as the casino has no opportunity to profit from the game play.
A gaming device could be developed, however, in which 80% of each wager is held in an escrow account and guaranteed to be returned to the players. The remaining 20% could be subject to game variables in which some of the money may be retained by the casino or it may be returned to the players. This would require conventional mathematical probability proof, despite being within the jurisdictionally required 80% payback. However, if the remaining 20% was not subject to game variables, rather taken directly as profit prior to being subject to gaming variables, no mathematical probability proof would be required under generally accepted jurisdictional requirements. In this manner, the game would be operating under regulations similar to live casino poker, in which percentage of each pot is subject to a rake, or casino fee.
By using my method of allocating a percentage of each wager to an escrow account, and guaranteeing the monies in the account are returned to players, the game developer is free to develop game play involving this money that is not subject to as stringent regulation as prior art gaming devices.
Reward is a key element in soliciting a desired behavior. In regards to gaming devices, the desired behavior is continued play. There are two primary types of rewards offered to solicit the behavior of continued play in a gaming device environment.
The first is monetary, as exemplified by ‘hitting jackpots’ or winning money. This offer is effective because it appeals to people's innate desire to accrue objects of value.
The second is entertainment, as exemplified by stimulating audio and visuals or game interactivity. This offer is effective because it appeals to people's innate desire for sensory stimulation.
In the preferred embodiment of the invention, during the course of conventional play, the player will have the opportunity to win Non-Monetary awards. These Non-Monetary awards can be won in the same manner as conventional jackpots, though as opposed to conventional jackpot wins, they have no direct tangible value. The Non-Monetary awards are utilized only during the ‘Progressive Challenge’, where they positively impact the player's chance of winning the challenge.
In the preferred embodiment there are a myriad number of Non-Monetary Awards, occurring with different frequencies and having different positive effects on the player's chance of winning the challenge.
The Non-Monetary Award, according to the device and method detailed herein, is effective because it appeals to people's innate desire to accrue objects of value. Thus it is similar to the first of the two types of rewards described above. However, in this case there is no tangible value directly associated with the reward. The Non-Monetary award also appeals to people's innate desire for sensory stimulation; each Non-Monetary award has a distinctive appearance.
Of further advantage, the Non-Monetary Award will generally be seen as an ‘investment’ by the player. The mere possession of Non-Monetary Awards during normal game play has no practical value; the Non-Monetary Award must be utilized during the ‘Progressive Challenge’ round for its value to be realized. This will promote extended play. The players have a vested interest in reaching the ‘Challenge Progressive’ round. They will not want to abandon any unused Non-Monetary Awards.
The Non-Monetary Award can be substituted for the various conventional monetary awards commonly available in gaming devices, and in this manner a game can be made that has both frequent (primarily Non-Monetary), and large (monetary) rewards.
Conclusions, Ramifications, and Scope
The reader will see that, according to the invention, I have provided a gaming device and method that will allow one to:
- (A) develop games that provide a greater level of player interactivity;
- (B) develop games that provide improved entertainment value for the players;
- (C) provide players a new variety of play, to include skill based games;
- (D) create more interactive games that will appeal to the next generation of gaming clientele;
- (E) provide gaming awards that are Non-Monetary but influence the chance for the player to win the ‘Progressive Challenge’;
- (F) provide games with elements of game play that will foster ‘ownership’ within the players, prolonging play, and increasing game profitability;
- (G). provide players a sense of ‘involvement’ within the game in that the player can make decisions that affect the outcome of the game.
The invention can be linked to any size network of machines, from an individual player's machine to a nationwide network. The ‘Progressive Challenge’ aspect of the invention could also be implemented in a tiered form (either as a series of progressives, or a series of fixed ‘challenge’ amounts that may or may not culminate in a final progressive ‘challenge’).
Games designed to implement the invention could be themed in a manner where the progressive amounts (both the machine's Device Specific Cache Amount (DSCA) and the Conventional Progressive Pool(CPP)) could be displayed as a series of larger and larger themed images rather just being represented numerically. For example, if a boxing theme were used; the Conventional Progressive Pool (CPP) could be graphically indicated on large display above a bank of identically programmed machines, in the form of a large and ferocious looking animated boxer. As the Conventional Progressive Pool amount grows, the boxer gets larger and more ferocious looking.
To continue the boxing theme example, when the player reaches the bonus stage he would select his bonus prize from a number of boxers—their backs turned and their bodies hidden by robes. If he accepts the challenge his bonus prize is revealed (his boxer turns around and doffs his robe), this will be the first indication to the player of his chances to win the upcoming ‘Progressive Challenge’. If his bonus prize boxer is frail and wimpy, as a reflection of the player picking a smaller bonus amount, the player knows his odds of winning in the challenge round will be slim. If his boxer is fierce and burly, as a reflection of the player picking a larger bonus amount, the player knows he has a decent chance to win in the challenge round.
Now that the player has accepted the ‘Progressive Challenge’ in our boxing theme example, he has a decision to make. Is he going to use some or all of his Device Specific Cache Amount in an effort to bolster his chance to win? The amount of the player's machine's Device Specific Cache Account (DSCA) might be depicted as a large pile of boxing fitness related foods (raw eggs, vitamins, etc.), that has been building in the player's on screen refrigerator.
The Non-Monetary awards in this boxing theme example might be depicted as ‘Louie's lucky gloves’ or ‘Sugar Joe Jenkin's Magic Mouthpiece’. A player in possession of ‘Louie's Lucky Gloves’ might have the virtual equivalent of $100 added to his Player's Challenge Amount for the purpose of calculating the player's odds of winning the ‘Progressive Challenge’. This $100 virtual equivalent would not be paid to the player should he win the challenge, it exists solely for the purpose of increasing the player's odds to win.
When the bonus prize amount (the player's boxer) is combined with the player's machine's Device Specific Cache Account (DSCA)(raw eggs, vitamins), and any Non-Monetary Awards, to determine the final Player's Challenge Amount (PCA), a series of animations occur. The boxer grows larger and larger as he eats the food that represents the Player's machine's Device Specific Cache Account (DSCA). Once finished eating, he straps on ‘Louie's Lucky Gloves’ which represent any Non-Monetary Awards the player acquired during conventional game play. These animations may appear on both the player's screen and on the display above the games, (so passersby could enjoy the upcoming spectacle). At the end of the animations, the player's boxer in his final form takes the ring to challenge the Conventional Progressive Pool's boxer. A series of animations eventually end with the results of the challenge, if the player wins his boxer knocks out the champion, if he loses he is knocked out.
Gaming devices designed to take advantage of the invention would not be limited to video-reel slot machines. Conventional mechanical-reel slot machines, video poker machines, online games, and video gaming machines that play similar to today's home console games could all be developed while keeping within the scope of the invention.
The preferred embodiment describes the Non-Monetary award being represented graphically on the screen in a manner keeping with the theme of the game, and that the exact extent the Non-Monetary award will impact the player's odds to win the ‘Progressive Challenge’ will not be made apparent to the player. The detailed description of the preferred embodiment also states that the players will be able to collect numerous Non-Monetary awards, which will work in conjunction with one another to produce a cumulative effect. It is to be understood that alternate embodiments may differ in that the exact extent the Non-Monetary awards will impact the player's odds to win the ‘Progressive Challenge’ may or may not be made apparent to the player. In a like manner the Non-Monetary awards may or may not work in conjunction with one another, and they may or may not have a cumulative effect.
While the above description contains many specificities, these should not be construed as limitations on the scope of the invention, but as exemplifications of the presently preferred embodiments thereof. Many other ramifications and variations are possible within the teachings of the invention. For example in accordance with another embodiment of the invention, the entirety of each wager may be allocated between two accounts, one escrow account for the casino win or hold, and another escrow account which is used to pay player awards. By allocating a predetermined fixed percentage to a casino win escrow account, the jurisdictional and internal control audit processes can be greatly simplified. The casino could keep this predetermined amount of each wager, similar to the rakeback as employed in conventional casino poker play. The remainder of the wager could be placed into a player escrow account which would used to pay the various awards in the game. This player escrow account would be held by the casino in a custodial capacity and never considered casino win, hold, or profit. Should at any time the player win amount should surpass what is currently available in the player escrow account, the casino would advance the player escrow account the monies necessary to cover the win amount. Any money advanced to the player escrow account would be returned to the casino once sufficient funds became available in the player escrow account. This embodiment would provide for creating gaming devices that are skill based while ensuring that casino profit remains accountable.
In an alternate embodiment the Device Specific Cache Account could be applied to a Player Specific Cache Account and remain within the scope and intent of the invention. In this embodiment the escrow account that represents the Player Specific Cache Account could be maintained on a server connected to all participating games. When the player uses his Player Tracking Card on a participating game, a portion of each wager is tracked and recorded on the centralized server. In this manner, when a player changes machines, his accumulated Player Specific Cache Account can travel with him. In the event the player uses some or all of the funds in the Player Specific Cache Account during a ‘Progressive Challenge’ the server records are updated accordingly.
While the preferred embodiment of the invention describes the use of both the Device Specific Cache Account, and the use of the Non-Monetary award, it is to be understood that a gaming device embodying either one or both of these aspects of the invention would fall within the intent of the teaching.
Additionally, the preferred embodiment of the invention describes the inclusion of a bonus round during game play, it is to be understood that a gaming device without a bonus round would fall within the intent of the teaching.
Furthermore, the preferred embodiment of the invention describes in detail the manner in which the ‘Challenge Progressive’ round is resolved, it is to be understood that using an alternate method of resolving the ‘Challenge Progressive’ would still fall within the purvey of the invention.
Thus the scope of the invention should be determined by the appended claims and their legal equivalents, and not by the examples given.