US20100151938A1 - Gaming System and a Method of Gaming - Google Patents

Gaming System and a Method of Gaming Download PDF

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Publication number
US20100151938A1
US20100151938A1 US12/638,499 US63849909A US2010151938A1 US 20100151938 A1 US20100151938 A1 US 20100151938A1 US 63849909 A US63849909 A US 63849909A US 2010151938 A1 US2010151938 A1 US 2010151938A1
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United States
Prior art keywords
tournament
player
game
controller
credit
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
Application number
US12/638,499
Inventor
John Boesen
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Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Ltd
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Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Ltd
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Priority to AU2008906495A priority Critical patent/AU2008906495A0/en
Priority to AU2008906495 priority
Application filed by Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Ltd filed Critical Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Ltd
Assigned to ARISTOCRAT TECHNOLOGIES AUSTRALIA PTY LIMITED reassignment ARISTOCRAT TECHNOLOGIES AUSTRALIA PTY LIMITED ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: BOESEN, JOHN
Publication of US20100151938A1 publication Critical patent/US20100151938A1/en
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
    • G07F17/3225Data transfer within a gaming system, e.g. data sent between gaming machines and users
    • G07F17/3227Configuring a gaming machine, e.g. downloading personal settings, selecting working parameters
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
    • G07F17/326Game play aspects of gaming systems
    • G07F17/3262Player actions which determine the course of the game, e.g. selecting a prize to be won, outcome to be achieved, game to be played
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
    • G07F17/326Game play aspects of gaming systems
    • G07F17/3272Games involving multiple players
    • G07F17/3276Games involving multiple players wherein the players compete, e.g. tournament

Abstract

A gaming system and method of gaming whereby a tournament can be provided to two or more game machines using a player marketing module of each gaming machine. Tournament participation of a player of each game machine is controlled by the player marketing module, and tournament outcomes are determined based on game outcomes generated in accordance with regular game play of the gaming machines of each participating player during the tournament.

Description

    RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application claims priority to Australian Provisional Patent Application No. 2008906495, having a filing date of Dec. 17, 2008, which is hereby incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.
  • FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
  • [Not Applicable]
  • MICROFICHE/COPYRIGHT REFERENCE
  • [Not Applicable]
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • Gaming systems which enable two or more players to compete in tournament games are known. Gaming machines assume a tournament mode of game play to enable players to compete against each other in order to win prizes for the tournament. In the tournament mode different game rules or credit handling may apply. Gaming machines need to be configured to switch between tournament and regular game play modes in order for a tournament to be provided. Game play in both modes and the procedure for switching between tournament and regular game play modes is subject to strict regulatory approval. Separate regulatory metering is also performed for tournament games which can require a game machine to have two hardware meters, one for regular game play and one for tournament game play.
  • BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • According to a first aspect there is provided a method of gaming comprising:
      • providing a tournament to two or more game machines each having a player marketing module;
      • controlling tournament participation of a player of each game machine by the player marketing module; and
      • determining tournament outcomes based on game outcomes generated in accordance with regular game play of the gaming machines of each participating player during the tournament.
  • Controlling tournament participation for each player can comprise the steps of:
      • monitoring game outcomes generated in accordance with regular game play of the gaming machine during the tournament; and
      • providing game outcome data to a tournament controller.
  • Some embodiments of the gaming method further comprise the steps of:
      • advertising an available tournament to the player;
      • receiving, via the player monitoring module, an instruction from the player to join the tournament; and
      • joining the player into the tournament in response to the instruction.
  • Joining the player into the tournament can include deducting a tournament entry fee from the players credit balance.
  • Some embodiments can cause free play of the regular game during the tournament.
  • In some embodiment player credit is adjusted by the marketing module during tournament participation. For example, the player marketing module may adjust player credit during tournament participation to restore the player's original credit balance at the time the tournament started.
  • According to a second aspect there is provided a gaming system comprising:
      • a tournament controller; and
      • two or more game machines each adapted to enable a player to play a regular game and having a player marketing module, wherein the player marketing module is in data communication with the tournament controller, the player marketing module comprising a tournament participation controller adapted to control tournament participation of a player of the game machine, and
  • wherein the tournament controller is adapted to determine tournament outcomes based on game outcomes generated in accordance with regular game play of the game machines of each participating player during the tournament.
  • In some embodiments the tournament participation controller of the player marketing module is adapted to:
      • monitor game outcomes generated in accordance with regular game play of the gaming machine during the tournament; and
      • provide game outcome data to a tournament controller.
  • The player marketing module of each game machine can further comprise a player input interface whereby a player can input an instruction to join an advertised tournament.
  • The player marketing module can further comprise a display whereby an invitation to join a tournament is advertised to the player.
  • The player marketing module can further comprise a player credit controller adapted to update player credit based on tournament participation. For example, the player credit controller can be adapted to deduct a tournament entry fee from a player credit balance.
  • In some embodiments the tournament participation controller is adapted to cause free play of the regular game during the tournament.
  • In some embodiments the player credit controller is adapted to adjust player credit during tournament participation. For example, the player credit controller can be adapted to adjust player credit during tournament participation to restore the player's original credit balance at the time the tournament started.
  • According to a third aspect there is provided a method of controlling participation in a gaming tournament by a player marketing module, wherein the player marketing module is in data communication with a game controller adapted to implement a game and a tournament controller adapted to run tournament, the method comprising the steps of:
      • receiving an instruction from the player to join a tournament;
      • joining the player in a tournament run by the tournament controller;
      • monitoring game outcomes generated for the game implemented by the game controller;
      • providing game outcome data to the tournament server; and
      • receiving tournament result data.
  • Joining the player into the tournament can include deducting a tournament entry fee from the players credit balance.
  • Player credit may also be adjusted during the tournament.
  • According to a fourth aspect there is provided a player marketing module comprising:
      • a game controller interface for connection to a game controller adapted to implement regular game play;
      • a tournament controller interface for connection to a tournament controller adapted to run a tournament; and
      • tournament participation controller adapted to:
      • join a player in a tournament run by the tournament controller;
      • monitor game outcomes generated in accordance with regular game play of the gaming machine during the tournament;
      • provide game outcome data to the tournament controller; and
      • receive tournament result data.
  • A fifth aspect provides computer program code which when executed implements the above methods.
  • A sixth aspect provides a computer readable medium comprising the above program code.
  • A seventh aspect provides a data signal comprising the above program code.
  • An eighth aspect provides transmitting and receiving the above data signal.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS
  • An exemplary embodiment of the invention will now be described with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:
  • FIG. 1 is a block diagram of the core components of a gaming system;
  • FIG. 2 is a block diagram of the functional components of a gaming machine;
  • FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram of the functional components of a memory;
  • FIG. 4 is a block diagram of a player marketing module;
  • FIG. 5 is a schematic diagram of a network gaming system;
  • FIG. 6 is a further block diagram of a gaming system; and
  • FIG. 7 is a flow chart of an embodiment.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • Referring to the drawings, there is shown a gaming system having a two or more game machines each having a game controller arranged to implement a game and a player tracking/marketing module. The player tracking/marketing module (PMM) of each game machine is adapted to control the participation of a player of the game machine in a tournament, where two or more players compete against each other. Tournament outcomes are determined based on regular game outcomes generated by the game controller for each player during the tournament. An advantage of this arrangement is it enables a tournament to be conducted without requiring the game controller to assume a tournament play mode wherein game outcomes are generated using different game rules from regular game play.
  • An exemplary stand alone gaming machine 10 is illustrated in FIG. 1. The gaming machine 10 includes a console 12 having a display 14 on which is displayed representations of a game that can be played by a player. A mid-trim 20 of the gaming machine 10 houses a bank of buttons 22 for enabling a player to interact with the gaming machine, in particular during game play. The mid-trim 20 also houses a credit input mechanism for example a coin input chute and/or a bill collector. Other credit input mechanisms may also be employed, for example, a card reader for reading a smart card, debit card or credit card.
  • Artwork and/or information, for example pay tables and details of bonus awards and other information or images relating to the game may be provided on a front panel 29 of the console 12. A coin tray 30 is mounted beneath the front panel 29 for dispensing cash payouts from the gaming machine 10.
  • The display 14 shown in FIG. 1 is in the form of a video display unit, particularly a cathode ray tube screen device. Alternatively, the display 14 may be a liquid crystal display, plasma screen, any other suitable video display unit, or the visible portion of an electromechanical device. The top box 26 also includes a display which may be of the same type as the display 14, or of a different type.
  • A player marketing module (PMM) 50 having a display 52 is connected to the gaming machine 10. The main purpose of the PMM 50 is to allow the player to interact with a player loyalty system. The PMM has a magnetic card reader for the purpose of reading a player tracking device, for example as part of a loyalty program. However other reading devices may be employed and the player tracking device may be in the form of a card, flash drive or any other portable storage medium capable of being read by the reading device. Embodiments of the PMM described herein are further adapted to control participation of the player in a tournament, enabling the tournament to be conducted without requiring a special tournament play mode to be implemented in the game controller.
  • FIG. 2 shows a block diagram of operative components of a typical gaming machine which may be the same as or different to the gaming machine of FIG. 1.
  • The gaming machine 10 includes a game controller 101 having a processor 102. Instructions and data to control operation of the processor 102 are stored in a memory 103, which is in data communication with the processor 102. Herein the term “processor” is used to refer generically to any device that can process game play instructions in accordance with game play rules and may include: a microprocessor, microcontroller, programmable logic device or other computational device, a general purpose computer (e.g. a PC) or a server.
  • Typically, the gaming machine 100 will include both volatile and non-volatile memory and more than one of each type of memory, with such memories being collectively represented by the memory 103.
  • The gaming machine has hardware meters 104 for purposes including ensuring regulatory compliance and monitoring player credit, an input/output (I/O) interface 105 for communicating with peripheral devices of the gaming machine 100. The input/output interface 105 and/or the peripheral devices may be intelligent devices with their own memory for storing associated instructions and data for use with the input/output interface or the peripheral devices. A random number generator module 113 generates random numbers for use by the processor 102. Persons skilled in the art will appreciate that the reference to random numbers includes pseudo-random numbers.
  • In the example shown in FIG. 2, a player interface 120 includes peripheral devices that communicate with the game controller 101 including one or more displays 106, buttons and/or a touch screen and/or buttons 107, a card and/or ticket reader 108, a printer 109, a bill acceptor and/or coin input mechanism 110 and a coin output mechanism 111. Additional hardware may be included as part of the gaming machine 100, or hardware may be omitted as required for the specific implementation.
  • FIG. 3 shows a block diagram of the main components of an exemplary memory 103. The memory 103 includes RAM 103A, EPROM 103B and a mass storage device 103C. The RAM 103A typically temporarily holds program files for execution by the processor 102 and related data. The EPROM 103B may be a boot ROM device and/or may contain some system or game related code. The mass storage device 103C is typically used to store game programs, the integrity of which may be verified and/or authenticated by the processor 102 using protected code from the EPROM 103B or elsewhere.
  • FIG. 4 is a block diagram of an example of an existing player marketing module 50, the player marketing module 50 can also be referred to as a player tracking module (PTM). The player marketing module 50 is connected via serial input/output ports 57 to serial input output ports of the input/output section 105 of the electronic gaming machine. The player marketing module has a card reader 54 and a display 52 which may be an LCD touch screen display. The PMM 50 may also have buttons 53 for receiving a player input (at least in embodiments where there is no touch screen display) and a speaker 51. Input received from the card reader 54 is processed by processor 55 based on the data stored in memory 56. The PMM 50 is connected to a System such as Aristocrat's System 7000 by a system port 58. The PMM also has an Ethernet port 59.
  • In most current gaming machines, such as the Mk VI gaming machine produced by Aristocrat Leisure Industries Pty Ltd, the gaming machine has a number of serial ports and the PMM is connected to a protocol port which is adapted to communicate with a System in accordance with a protocol specified for the jurisdiction (e.g. ASP, SAS). The PMM interprets the data received at the serial port 57 and sends it on to the gaming system via system port which is typically another serial port.
  • FIG. 5 shows a gaming system 200 in accordance with an alternative embodiment. The gaming system 200 includes a network 201, which for example may be an Ethernet network. Gaming machines 202, shown arranged in three banks 203 of two gaming machines 202 in FIG. 5, are connected to the network 201. The gaming machines 202 provide a player operable interface and may be the same as the gaming machines 10 shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, or may have simplified functionality depending on the requirements for implementing game play. While banks 203 of two gaming machines are illustrated in FIG. 5, banks of one, three or more gaming machines are also envisaged.
  • One or more displays 204 may also be connected to the network 201. For example, the displays 204 may be associated with one or more banks 203 of gaming machines. The displays 204 may be used to display representations associated with game play on the gaming machines 202, and/or used to display other representations, for example promotional or informational material.
  • In a thick client embodiment, game server 205 implements part of the game played by a player using a gaming machine 202 and the gaming machine 202 implements part of the game. With this embodiment, as both the game server and the gaming device implement part of the game, they collectively provide a game controller. A database management server 206 may manage storage of game programs and associated data for downloading or access by the gaming devices 202 in a database 206A. Typically, if the gaming system enables players to participate in a Jackpot game, a Jackpot server 207 will be provided to perform accounting functions for the Jackpot game. A loyalty program server 212 may also be provided.
  • In a thin client embodiment, game server 205 implements most or all of the game played by a player using a gaming machine 202 and the gaming machine 202 essentially provides only the player interface. With this embodiment, the game server 205 provides the game controller. The gaming machine will receive player instructions, pass these to the game server which will process them and return game play outcomes to the gaming machine for display. In a thin client embodiment, the gaming machines could be computer terminals, e.g. PCs running software that provides a player interface operable using standard computer input and output components.
  • Servers are also typically provided to assist in the administration of the gaming network 200, including for example a gaming floor management server 208, and a licensing server 209 to monitor the use of licenses relating to particular games. An administrator terminal 210 is provided to allow an administrator to run the network 201 and the devices connected to the network.
  • The gaming system 200 may communicate with other gaming systems, other local networks, for example a corporate network, and/or a wide area network such as the Internet, for example through a firewall 211.
  • Persons skilled in the art will appreciate that in accordance with known techniques, functionality at the server side of the network may be distributed over a plurality of different computers. For example, elements may be run as a single “engine” on one server or a separate server may be provided. For example, the game server 205 could run a random generator engine. Alternatively, a separate random number generator server could be provided. Further, persons skilled in the art will appreciate that a plurality of game servers could be provided to run different games or a single game server may run a plurality of different games as required by the terminals.
  • In a gaming venue where a plurality of players can play a plurality of networked game machines concurrently, tournaments enabling players to compete against each other provide additional entertainment. Further, tournaments may also enable players to win additional prizes. Tournaments can be very popular with gaming venue patrons. During a tournament players can compete against each other in order to try to meet prize winning criteria. For example, a prize may be awarded to the ten fastest players during tournament play or to the player who had the most winning outcomes generated during tournament game play. Tournament rules and criteria must be defined prior to the tournament being run. Tournament criteria may include eligibility criteria, tournament start criteria, prize winning criteria, tournament game play rules, tournament end conditions etc.
  • In previously known game systems tournaments are controlled by a tournament controller, typically a tournament server in communication with a plurality of game machines. Each game machine has a game controller adapted to operate in a regular game mode, for regular game play, and transition to a tournament mode for tournament game play. In the tournament mode different rules, such as credit handling rules typically apply. For example, a player may pay a set amount of credit to participate in a tournament. For this set credit amount, the player plays as many game rounds as they can during the tournament time period. The outcomes of these games are handled in accordance with tournament play rules rather than regular game play rules. For example, credit may not be deducted or paid to the player per round during the tournament. Regulatory approval is required for both the regular game mode and tournament game mode which places and additional compliance burden on game designers and gaming venue operators. Further, any modification to either the tournament game play or regular game play may require full regulatory reassessment of the game controller for both the tournament and regular game play modes.
  • In the embodiments proposed in the present application, tournament participation for a player is controlled by the player marketing module (PMM), also referred to as a player tracking module (PTM), and tournament outcomes determined based on outcomes generated during regular game play. The tournament controller transforms game outcome data generated as for regular game play and monitored via the PMM for two or more players into tournament outcomes. This avoids the need to implement both a regular game play mode and a tournament game mode in a game controller. Further, embodiments enable a tournament to be implemented using game controllers and game machines not inherently adapted for tournament game play.
  • Referring to the player marketing module illustrated in FIG. 4, the player marketing module (PMM) 50 is connected via serial input/output ports 57 to serial input output ports of the input/output section 105 of the electronic gaming machine. Via this connection the PMM 50 can monitor game outcomes generated by the game controller of the electronic gaming machine. The PMM 50 is also connected to a gaming system via the system port 58. The gaming system can include loyalty services, customer management services, player credit account services etc. A player can input their loyalty card to the card reader 54 when they begin to play the connected game machine. Input received from the card reader 54 is processed by processor 55 based on the data stored in memory 56 and can be transmitted to the gaming system via the system port. During play of the gaming machine data can be transmitted from the PMM 50 to the gaming system, for example the amount of credit played, game outcome data, game win meter data etc.
  • In an embodiment the PMM can also be connected to a tournament controller via the system port 58, for example for a tournament controller implemented as part of the gaming system. Alternatively one of the serial ports 57 or the Ethernet port 59 may be used for connection to a stand alone tournament controller, connected directly or via a gaming network.
  • In this embodiment the PMM includes a tournament participation controller, adapted to enable a player to join a tournament. The tournament participation controller is adapted to forward game outcome data from the connected game controller to the tournament controller for determination of tournament results. The game outcome data from the connected game controller is monitored by the tournament participation controller of the PMM via the serial connection to the game controller as described above. The tournament participation controller can also be adapted to enable the player to opt in or opt out of the tournament. For example, an upcoming tournament may be advertised and the player uses an input of the PMM to accept or decline tournament entry. For example, by pushing an accept button, touching an accept area of the screen, re-swiping their customer tracking card etc. The method used to opt in for a tournament may vary depending on the configuration of the PMM. For example, where a PMM does not have a dedicated command input mechanism, such as buttons or a touch screen, an action such as re-swiping a customer tracking/loyalty proximity or magnetic card may be used to accept to opt in for the tournament. Alternatively a player's loyalty or tracking profile may include a player defined preference for automatically opting in for any tournament play. In a further alternative the player may provide opt in or out commands via the game play mechanism of the game controller, rather than the PMM. For example, the PMM may be adapted to control a touch screen display of the gaming machine to display a tournament invitation that may be accepted or declined by touching a corresponding area of the touch screen. The PMM can also include a player credit controller adapted to update player credit in accordance with tournament participation. For example, by deducting a tournament entry fee, awarding any credit payout for a tournament prize, or updating player credit during the tournament.
  • FIG. 6 illustrates an example of an electronic game machine 600 having a game controller 660, player interface 650 and a player marketing module (PMM) 670. The game machine 600 is connected to a game system server 610 and tournament controller 620 via the PMM 670. The gaming machine 600 can be one of a plurality of gaming machines connected to the gaming system and tournament server.
  • The core components of the game machine, used to implement a game are the player interface 650 and game controller 660. The player interface 650 is arranged to enable manual interaction between a player and the gaming machine and for this purpose includes the input/output components required for the player to enter instructions and play the game.
  • Components of the player interface may vary from embodiment to embodiment but will typically include a credit mechanism 652 to enable a player to input credits and receive payouts, one or more displays 654, a game play mechanism 656 that enables a player to input game play instructions (e.g. to place bets), and one or more speakers 658.
  • The game controller 660 is in data communication with the player interface and typically includes a processor 662 that processes the game play instructions in accordance with game play rules 665 and outputs game play outcomes to the display. Typically, the game play instructions are stored as program code in a memory 664 but can also be hardwired. Herein the term “processor” is used to refer generically to any device that can process game play instructions in accordance with game play rules and may include: a microprocessor, microcontroller, programmable logic device or other computational device, a general purpose computer (e.g. a PC) or a server.
  • In the example illustrated in FIG. 6 the game processor 662 includes and outcome generator 661 and prize evaluator 663 for implementing a game. Game rules 665 for the game are stored in memory 665. Player data 666 can also be stored in memory 664, player data 666 can include a player's game play instructions such as an amount wagered, selected game variable such as a number of win lines or optional selectable features, and credit data such as a current credit balance or win meter. The outcome generator 661 operates in response to the player's operation of game play mechanism 656 to generate a game outcome in accordance with game rules 665 which will then be evaluated by prize evaluator 663 using game rules 665 and player data 666. The game outcome can be displayed to the player on display 654.
  • The player marketing module 670 has a processor 630, memory 640, a card reader 674 and a display 672 which may be an LCD touch screen display. The PMM 670 may also have a player input mechanism 673 such as buttons for receiving a player input. When a player begins to play the game machine 600 the player can identify themselves to the gaming machine and thereby the game system via the PMM 670. The player provides their player tracking card such as a loyalty card or player account card to the card reader 674, this may comprise inserting a card into the card reader, swiping a magnetic strip of the card, or proximity reading such as reading an identification code from and an RFID circuit or smart card, or scanning a bar code printed on the card. Input received from the card reader 674 is processed by processor 630 based on the data stored in memory 640. Player identification and tracking data can be provided by the PMM 670 to the game system 610, for example for loyalty program tracking or to log on to a player account. Player tracking data 645 can also be stored in PMM memory 640. The PMM 670 has a game controller interface 622 for data communication with the game controller 660, for example via a serial port. The PMM 670 of this embodiment is further provided with a tournament controller interface (TCI) 621 for connection, for example via an Ethernet, serial or system port, to a tournament controller 620 adapted to run a tournament. The PMM 670 is adapted to control participation of the player of the game machine 600 in a tournament wherein two or more players can compete against each other. Game outcome data is monitored by the PMM via the game controller interface 622 and provided by the PMM 670 to the tournament controller 620 via the TCI 621.
  • The tournament controller 620 is adapted to receive game outcome data from the PMM 670 of the game machine of each player participating in the tournament and determine the tournament outcomes in accordance with defined tournament criteria. The tournament is defined in the tournament controller, for example an operator may select the timing for the tournament, participation eligibility criteria, winning criteria and tournament prizes and input this to the tournament controller to define the tournament.
  • The PMM 670 is adapted to control participation of the player in a tournament. The PMM processor 630 includes a tournament participation controller 632 and optionally a player credit controller 635. The tournament participation controller 632 and player credit controller 635 may be implemented as software programs stored in PMM memory 640 and executed by the PMM processor 630, but can also be hardwired. Data pertaining to the tournament participation can be stored in memory 640 as tournament participation data 642. For example, tournament participation data may include one or more of tournament start and end times, tournament eligibility criteria, tournament entry fee, outcome data required by the tournament controller during the tournament etc. Tournament participation data may be updated in accordance with instructions from the tournament controller. For example, tournament start and end times may be transmitted by the tournament controller 620 to each PMM 670 via the TCI 621 for each tournament.
  • The tournament participation controller is adapted to control a player's participation in a tournament. This can include joining a player into a tournament, forwarding game data to the tournament controller during the tournament, advising of any prize won by the player during the tournament and awarding a prize won during the tournament to the player.
  • To join a player into a tournament the PMM provides player data to the tournament controller such as identification data for the player or the game machine being played by the player. Tournament participation eligibility may be automatic or based on eligibility criteria. The tournament participation controller may be adapted to assess whether a player meets eligibility criteria for a tournament, for example a player may become eligible for tournament participation once they have been playing the game machine for at least a given period of time, based on the amount of credit turnover by the player during a play session or give period of time, or alternatively based on a specified outcome occurring in a game outcome generated by the game controller. Where the PMM tournament participation controller assesses a player is eligible to join a tournament the PMM provides the player eligibility data to the tournament controller. Alternatively whether or not a player is eligible to join a tournament may be assessed by the tournament controller. For example, a tournament controller may request data relating to tournament eligibility criteria from each PMM connected to the tournament controller and respond to each PMM advising whether their player is eligible to participate in a pending tournament. Alternatively a tournament controller may select game machines for participation in a tournament, for example using a random or defined selection process, and provide tournament data to the PMM of each selected game machine.
  • In some embodiments a tournament may be advertised and the player given the option to join the tournament. In this embodiment although a player may be eligible to participate in a tournament they may choose not to participate. For example, an invitation to join upcoming tournament may be advertised on PMM displays 672 of eligible players, each player can then accept or decline the invitation to join the tournament using the PMM input mechanism 673. The PMM can record the player's response in player tracking data 645. Data for players who accept the tournament is transmitted to the tournament controller 620. Any player who does not want to participate in the tournament can opt out before the tournament begins. For example, a play can opt out by simply not accepting an invitation to join a tournament or by performing an action, such as pressing a button touch screen to remove themselves from the tournament.
  • During a tournament the tournament participation controller 632 monitors game outcomes, generated by the game controller 660, and transmits game outcome data to the tournament controller 620. The game outcomes generated during the tournament are generated by the game controller 660 using the same game outcome generation process used during regular game play. The game outcomes are monitored by the PMM 670 during the tournament and game outcome data transmitted to the tournament controller 620 for determination of the tournament results.
  • In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 6 the game controller 660 is adapted to generate game outcomes for the regular game as a “stand alone” gaming machine as described above. However, embodiments may also be implemented where the gaming machine 600 is a player terminal connected to an external game controller via a gaming network, using client-server architecture as described above. In such an embodiment an only some of the functions for displaying and optionally generating game outcomes may be implemented in the gaming machine 600. In some such embodiments some data for generation of a game outcome, such as a random number, may be provided to the gaming machine 600 for use to generate the result. In other embodiments the external game controller may generate game outcomes which are then transmitted to the gaming machine 600 for display to the player. The PMM in these embodiments can be adapted to monitor the game outcomes for the regular game either once game outcome generation is completed by the gaming machine 600 or as game outcome data is received by the gaming machine. The monitoring by the PMM does not alter or interfere with the regular game play. The PMM simply monitors the game outcomes and provides game outcome data as required to the tournament controller. Thus no adaptation is required to either the gaming machines or external game controller to accommodate the tournament game. The tournament game play is transparent to the external game controller and regular game play functionality of the gaming machines.
  • The game outcome data transmitted to the tournament controller may include only data relevant to tournament criteria. For example if tournament prizes are based on the most game rounds played during the tournament, the game outcome data transmitted to the tournament controller may be the number of game rounds played during a given time period. The time period may be the duration of the tournament or a time interval during the tournament. Data relating to the actual outcomes of the game rounds, such as wins and losses, is not transmitted. It should be appreciated that the game outcome data transmitted by the PMM may vary based on the tournament criteria. Tournament criteria can be stored in PMM memory in tournament participation data 642. The tournament criteria may be updated by the tournament controller 620. In some embodiments the tournament criteria may vary from tournament to tournament. Varying the tournament criteria can have and advantage of maintaining player interest and generating excitement in relation to tournaments.
  • Game outcome data may be transmitted by the PMM 670 to the tournament controller 620 for each game outcome or for a plurality of game outcomes based on given criteria. For example, game outcome data may be transmitted periodically, for a set of a defined number of game outcomes or only once at the conclusion of the tournament. Rules defining when and what game outcome data to transmit can be stored as game outcome data rules in the tournament participation data 642. The tournament participation controller 632 monitors generated game outcomes and transforms generated game outcomes into game outcome data for use by the tournament controller. For example, the tournament participation controller 632 processes monitored game outcomes in accordance with the game outcome data rules to provide game outcome data for the tournament. The game outcome data is then transmitted to the tournament controller 620 via the tournament controller interface 621.
  • Some PMM embodiments are adapted to adjust player credit in the game controller. For example, a protocol may exist between a PMM 670 and a game controller 660 which enables a player's credit balance value, stored in player data 666 in the game controller memory 664, to be incremented or decremented by the game controller 660 in response to an instruction from the PMM 670. This can be a standard, regulatory approved, protocol such as protocols already in use in some gaming systems. For example, in a known gaming system a player tracking card is associated with a player's gaming credit account administered by the gaming system. In some circumstances a loyalty bonus may be awarded as player credit and via the protocol between the PMM and game controller this additional credit can be added to the player's credit balance. The protocol may operate between a PMM and game controller of a stand alone gaming machine or external game controller depending on the embodiment. Regulatory approval of the game controller can include the regulator approval for the credit update protocol. Embodiments of the PMM can be adapted to utilize this protocol for updating player credit in relation to tournaments.
  • For example, a tournament entry fee can be deducted from a player credit balance when a player joins a tournament. Further, player credit may be adjusted during a tournament. For example, to restore the player's original credit balance at the time the tournament started, for example so it appears that the player has not bet any credits and/or won any credits during the tournament rounds.
  • As an already approved protocol is used to perform the credit update, no further regulatory approval for the game controller is required to implement the tournament credit updates. This offers an advantage of regulatory approval for the credit updating function being able to be isolated to the PMM. Regulatory approval for the credit updating can be assessed in conjunction with the regulatory approval for the tournament participation functions of the PMM.
  • During a tournament the game controller operates in the same manner as for regular game play, while tournament participation is controlled by the PMM. Therefore, during a tournament the game controller applies the same game outcome generation and prize evaluation rules as are used during regular game play. Essentially the game controller is unaware that a tournament is occurring and continues to operate in regular game play mode. Thus during the tournament the game controller will deduct credit from the player's credit balance for wagers and award credits for winning outcomes in accordance with regular game rules. However, during the tournament, the tournament participants may be competing for prizes which are independent of the regular game and regular game awards must be suspended for these players during the tournament. Embodiments of the PMM can accommodate this requirement by adjusting players' credit for the tournament.
  • The manner in which player credit is adjusted for tournaments can vary depending on the embodiment and/or in accordance with regulatory requirements. Some exemplary non limiting examples will now be described.
  • In a first embodiment the player credit controller is adapted to deduct a tournament entry fee from a player credit balance when a player joins a tournament. In some embodiments the tournament entry fees deducted from each player can be used to form a prize pool for the tournament or contribute to a prize pool for the tournament. In some embodiments the PMM may also be adapted to cause free play of the game machine during the tournament, for example where a protocol exists between the game controller and the PMM to enable the game controller to trigger free rounds in response to an instruction from the PMM. Any credit won by the player during the free rounds can be accumulated using a win meter. The win meter value can be monitored by the PMM during the tournament. The win meter value can be used to determine tournament outcomes, for example tournament outcomes based on the top five win meters at the end of the tournament play time. Optionally the credit won can be awarded to the player at the end of the tournament. Alternatively, under control of the player credit controller of the PMM the win meter value may not be added to the player credit balance or the player credit balance adjusted to deduct the win meter credit value from the player credit balance after it is automatically credited to the player, so that it appears that the credit won during the tournament is not added to the player's credit balance.
  • In another example, at the start of a tournament the player credit controller 635 for each participating player reads the player's original credit balance and stored the original credit balance value in player tracking data 645 in PMM memory 640. The player plays each round in the tournament in the same manner as for the regular game, wagering credit from their current credit balance and credits added to the player's current credit balance for any winning outcomes in accordance with regular game play rules. However, on the conclusion of each round the player credit controller is adapted to add or deduct credits to restore the player's current credit balance to the original credit balance value.
  • In an alternative example, at the start of a tournament the player credit controller 635 for each participating player reads the player's original credit balance and stores the original credit balance value in player tracking data 645 in PMM memory 640. The player credit controller may then add or deduct credit from the players current credit balance value such that each player participating in the tournament has the same current credit balance value, for example adjusting the current credit balance value for all tournament players to a defined tournament starting credit balance value. Players can then play the game machine in accordance with regular game play, wagering credit from their current credit balance and having credits added to their current credit balance for any winning outcomes in accordance with regular game play rules. If a player runs out of credit during the tournament, i.e. has a credit balance of zero, this may disqualify the player from the tournament. Alternatively the player credit controller may adjust the player's current credit balance by a given value to enable the player to continue to participate. At the end of the tournament, each player credit controller can adjust the player's current credit balance to restore the original credit balance for before the tournament.
  • It should be appreciate that these are only a few examples of the ways in which the player credit controller of the PMM may adjust player credit for tournaments.
  • The tournament controller determines the tournament outcomes based on the game outcome data received from the PMM of each game machine participating in the tournament. Tournament results and award of prizes are based on the criteria defined for the tournament. Tournament results may be transmitted by the tournament controller to the relevant game machines and/or advertised centrally, for example on a tournament winner's board or central display at the gaming venue. Where a tournament outcome, such as a player's tournament ranking or notification of a prize won by the player is transmitted to the player's PMM 670 this data can be displayed in the PMM display 672.
  • Awarding a prize won during the tournament to the player may be an optional function of the PMM. Some tournament prizes may be awarded to the winning players by the gaming venue management rather than via the PMM. For example, were the prize is goods or services such as a television or restaurant vouchers the winning players may be advertised on a special tournament displays visible throughout the venue and prizes redeemed from an cashier or gaming venue administrator when the winning player identified themselves, for example by presenting their player tracking card. Whereas if a tournament prize is a credit value, then this may be awarded by the PMM via the player credit controller 635 updating a player credit balance stored in player data 666 in the game controller 660.
  • An example of a process for implementing a tournament is illustrated in FIG. 7. The gaming system environment in which the tournament is run can be a networked gaming system as illustrated in FIG. 5 having banks 203 of one or more gaming machines 202 connected to a network 201. The gaming machines 202 may comprise all the functionality required to implement a regular game or a game server 205 may implement part of the game played by a player using a gaming machine 202 and the gaming machine 202 implements part of the game.
  • Each gaming machine has a PMM adapted to control participation in a tournament as described above with reference to FIG. 6. The PMM of each game machine 202 may be in data communication with a loyalty server 212 and a tournament server 207 adapted to control a tournament. In this embodiment a tournament server 207 is provided in place of a Jackpot server, however in an alternative embodiment both a Jackpot server and a tournament server may be provided. The rules and criteria for the tournament are defined in the tournament server 207 and tournament participation data can be transmitted to the PMM of each gaming machine 202.
  • An upcoming tournament is advertised 705 to players of the gaming machines. The tournament may be advertised on one or more displays 204. The advertisement may include details such as a tournament entry fee, eligibility criteria for entering the tournament, for example advertising that the tournament is only open to players wagering at least a given minimum wager per game round, prize winning criteria and tournament start and end times. The tournament may additionally or alternatively be advertised individually to each player or only eligible players using the PMM display of their gaming machine 202.
  • It may be optional for players to join the tournament and the advertisement may instruct players how to opt in to join the tournament. For example, players may be directed to push a tournament button on the PMM or touch a section of the PMM touch screen indicating YES or NO to indicate whether or not they wish to join the tournament. If a player chooses 710 not to join the tournament the player continues with regular game play of the gaming machine 790.
  • If a player chooses 710 to join the tournament, the PMM sends participant data to the tournament controller 715 to indicate the player wishes to join the tournament. The tournament controller may assess whether the player fulfils tournament participation criteria before the can be joined as a participant. If a player does not fulfill the eligibility criteria the player may be informed they are not part of the tournament via the PMM display. For example if a tournament is only open to the first twenty players who opt in, then the twenty first, twenty second etc. players will be informed they missed out on the tournament this time and may also be informed of when the next tournament will be run.
  • A tournament entry fee may be deducted from each tournament participant's credit balance 720 if an entry fee is payable for the tournament. In some embodiments a tournament entry fee may not be payable.
  • Tournament participants are advised of the start of the tournament play period 730. In some embodiments a “count down” to the tournament start may be used to build anticipation and excitement for the tournament. At the tournament start time additional actions of the PMM may be performed for the tournament, for example reading a player credit balance value, adjusting player credit or triggering a free play mode of the game machine. These actions may vary depending on the embodiment or tournament criteria.
  • During the tournament game outcomes are generated 740 by the game controller in accordance with regular game play. Game outcomes are monitored by the PMM and game outcome data transmitted to the tournament controller 745. Optionally player credit is also updated 750 during tournament play, for example to adjust for any changes in player credit balance due to wagering or winning outcomes. That is, one advantageous feature of some embodiments of the invention is that the tournament can be run without the gaming machine entering a tournament mode. That is, a tournament fee can be extracted, but otherwise the PMM effectively compensates the gaming machine balance to remove the effect of tournament play—i.e. by injecting credit at appropriate junctures. Records can be kept at the PMM to enable appropriate accounting. As a result gaming machines do not need to have, for example, a tournament meter.
  • Game data may be transmitted 745 to the tournament controller for each game outcome generated 740, periodically or at the end of the tournament. The end of the tournament may be known to the PMM, for example a defined end time for the tournament or an end of tournament signal may be transmitted by the tournament controller, for example in a tournament where the end of the tournament is triggered by a player fulfilling an end criteria, such as one hundred rounds played or a player's win meter reaching a threshold value, the tournament controller can signal the tournament end 760 to the participating PMMs.
  • At the end of the tournament play the PMM can also perform actions such as adjusting player credit to restore their pre-tournament credit balance or trigger the game controller to return to a normal play mode from a free play mode.
  • The tournament controller determines the tournament results and informs the players of the results. This may be transmitting results to player's PMMs 770 for display to the individual players or displaying the tournament results on displays 204.
  • Where tournament outcome data is transmitted to each PMM, the tournament result data transmitted may be specific to each player, for example giving their ranking in the tournament and any prize awarded for their tournament participation. The tournament result data is received by the PMM 770 and displayed to the player using the PMM display. The PMM may also be adapted to award a prize to the player 775. For example, where a prize is a credit value, the PMM may increment the player's credit balance by the prize value. In alternative embodiments the PMM may be adapted to control the credit mechanism, of a player interface to pay out a cash prize or print a ticket redeemable for a prize such as a meal or drink voucher. Alternatively, the PMM may issue an instruction over the network for a manual pay out to be made by an attendant. Normal game play of the game machine is then continued 780. It should, however, be appreciated that from the perspective of the game controller only regular game play is executed throughout the tournament.
  • Embodiments of the PMM as described can be used to enable a tournament to be run using game machines which are not adapted for tournament play and do not have a tournament play mode. The tournament is run independent of the game controller and therefore cannot influence operation of the game controller and obtain regulatory approval independent of the game controllers. A PMM may be an add-on module which can be connected to an existing gaming machine or be a module integral with a gaming machine. Existing PMMs may be modified to include a tournament participation controller as described above using software or hardware upgrades.
  • Persons skilled in the art will also appreciate that the method of the embodiment could be embodied in program code. The program code could be supplied in a number of ways, for example on a computer readable medium, such as a disc or a memory (for example, that could replace part of PMM memory 640) or as a data signal (for example, by downloading it from a server).
  • It will be understood to persons skilled in the art of the invention that many modifications may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention, in particular it will be apparent that certain features of the invention can be combined to form further embodiments.
  • It is to be understood that, if any prior art publication is referred to herein, such reference does not constitute an admission that the publication forms a part of the common general knowledge in the art, in Australia or any other country.
  • In the claims which follow and in the preceding description of the invention, except where the context requires otherwise due to express language or necessary implication, the word “comprise” or variations such as “comprises” or “comprising” is used in an inclusive sense, i.e. to specify the presence of the stated features but not to preclude the presence or addition of further features in various embodiments of the invention.

Claims (34)

1. A method of gaming comprising:
providing a tournament to two or more game machines each having a player marketing module;
controlling tournament participation of a player of each game machine by the player marketing module; and
determining tournament outcomes based on game outcomes generated in accordance with regular game play of the gaming machines of each participating player during the tournament.
2. A method as claimed in claim 1 wherein controlling tournament participation for each player comprises the steps of:
monitoring game outcomes generated in accordance with regular game play of the gaming machine during the tournament; and
providing game outcome data to a tournament controller.
3. A method as claimed in claim 2 further comprising the steps of:
advertising an available tournament to the player;
receiving, via the player monitoring module, an instruction from the player to join the tournament; and
joining the player into the tournament in response to the instruction.
4. A method as claimed in claim 3 wherein joining the player into the tournament includes deducting a tournament entry fee from the players credit balance.
5. A method as claimed in claim 4 further comprising the step of causing free play of the regular game during the tournament.
6. A method as claimed in claim 3 further comprising the step of adjusting player credit by the player marketing module during tournament participation.
7. A method as claimed in claim 6 wherein the player marketing module adjusts player credit during tournament participation to restore the player's original credit balance at the time the tournament started.
8. A gaming system comprising:
a tournament controller; and
two or more game machines each adapted to enable a player to play a regular game and having a player marketing module, wherein the player marketing module is in data communication with the tournament controller, the player marketing module comprising a tournament participation controller adapted to control tournament participation of a player of the game machine,
wherein the tournament controller is adapted to determine tournament outcomes based on game outcomes generated in accordance with regular game play of the game machines of each participating player during the tournament.
9. A gaming system as claimed in claim 8 wherein the tournament participation controller of the player marketing module is adapted to:
monitor game outcomes generated in accordance with regular game play of the gaming machine during the tournament; and
provide game outcome data to a tournament controller.
10. A gaming system as claimed in claim 9 wherein the player marketing module of each game machine further comprises a player input interface whereby a player can input an instruction to join an advertised tournament.
11. A gaming system as claimed in claim 10 wherein the player marketing module further comprises a display whereby an invitation to join a tournament is advertised to the player.
12. A gaming system as claimed in claim 10 wherein the player marketing module further comprises a player credit controller adapted to update player credit based on tournament participation.
13. A gaming system as claimed in claim 12 wherein the player credit controller is adapted to deduct a tournament entry fee from a player credit balance.
14. A gaming system as claimed in claim 13 wherein the tournament participation controller is adapted to cause free play of the regular game during the tournament.
15. A gaming system as claimed in claim 13 wherein the player credit controller is adapted to adjust player credit during tournament participation.
16. A gaming system as claimed in claim 15 wherein the player credit controller is adapted to adjust player credit during tournament participation to restore the player's original credit balance at the time the tournament started.
17. A method of controlling participation in a gaming tournament by a player marketing module, wherein the player marketing module is in data communication with a game controller adapted to implement a game and a tournament controller adapted to run tournament, the method comprising the steps of:
receiving an instruction from the player to join a tournament;
joining the player in a tournament run by the tournament controller;
monitoring game outcomes generated for the game implemented by the game controller;
providing game outcome data to the tournament server; and
receiving tournament result data.
18. A method as claimed in claim 17 wherein joining the player into the tournament includes deducting a tournament entry fee from the players credit balance.
19. A method as claimed in claim 17 further comprising the step of adjusting player credit during the tournament.
20. A method as claimed in claim 19 wherein the player credit is adjusted during tournament participation to restore the player's original credit balance at the time the tournament started.
21. A method as claimed in claim 17 further comprising the step of causing free play of the regular game during the tournament.
22. A method as claimed in claim 17 further comprising the step of advertising the tournament.
23. A player marketing module comprising:
a game controller interface for connection to a game controller adapted to implement regular game play;
a tournament controller interface for connection to a tournament controller adapted to run a tournament; and
tournament participation controller adapted to:
join a player in a tournament run by the tournament controller;
monitor game outcomes generated in accordance with regular game play of the gaming machine during the tournament;
provide game outcome data to the tournament controller; and
receive tournament result data.
24. A player marketing module as claimed in claim 23 further comprising a player input interface which enables a player to input an instruction to join an advertised tournament.
25. A player marketing module as claimed in claim 24 wherein the player marketing module includes a display whereby an invitation to join a tournament is advertised to the player.
26. A player marketing module as claimed in claim 25 further comprising a player credit controller adapted to update player credit based on tournament participation.
27. A player marketing module as claimed in claim 26 wherein the player credit controller is adapted to deduct a tournament entry fee from a player credit balance.
28. A player marketing module as claimed in claim 27 adapted to cause free play of the regular game during the tournament.
29. A player marketing module as claimed in claim 26 wherein the player credit controller is adapted to adjust player credit during tournament participation.
30. A player marketing module as claimed in claim 29 wherein the player credit controller is adapted to adjust player credit during tournament participation to restore the player's original credit balance at the time the tournament started.
31. A method as claimed in claim 1, further comprising executing a computer program code implementing said method.
32. A method as claimed in claim 31, further comprising storing said computer program code in a computer readable medium.
33. A method as claimed in claim 31, further comprising generating a data signal indicative of said computer program code.
34. A method as claimed in claim 31, further comprising transmitting and receiving said data signal.
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