WO2008141378A1 - Gaming apparatus and methods - Google Patents

Gaming apparatus and methods

Info

Publication number
WO2008141378A1
WO2008141378A1 PCT/AU2008/000705 AU2008000705W WO2008141378A1 WO 2008141378 A1 WO2008141378 A1 WO 2008141378A1 AU 2008000705 W AU2008000705 W AU 2008000705W WO 2008141378 A1 WO2008141378 A1 WO 2008141378A1
Authority
WO
Grant status
Application
Patent type
Prior art keywords
game
competition
phase
player
plays
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/AU2008/000705
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Benjamin James Ellis
Original Assignee
Dynamite Games Pty. Ltd.
Priority date (The priority date 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 date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date

Links

Classifications

    • 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
    • G07F17/3272Games involving multiple players
    • G07F17/3276Games involving multiple players wherein the players compete, e.g. tournament

Abstract

Gaming apparatus, e.g. an Electronic Gaming Machine (EGM) (1), includes a controller (2) for implementing e.g. a slot-machine game, casino-type game or other betting game. The EGM (1) displays a gaming image on a (display 6), e.g. virtual symbol reels or card hands, and receives player instructions via an input (7), e.g. to spin the reels or manage the cards. The EGM (1) includes a means for playing a game and for receiving bets. It also includes means for triggering a competition phase that extends over a series of plays of a game, a player receiving a reward if they achieve a predetermined goal during the series of competition phase plays, e.g. within a set number of plays of a game or within a set time period. The goal may be to trigger a particular game event or to achieve a threshold number or value of game events, or, in a linked game, to be the first to do so or to achieve the best performance over the series of plays.

Description

Gaming Apparatus and Methods

The present invention relates to gaming apparatus and systems. It relates for example to electronic gaming machines and to networked gaming systems. It relates for example to Internet or Intranet based gaming systems.

Gaming machines have been a popular form of entertainment for many years. This popularity has been enhanced with the advent of electronic gaming machines and also computer-based gaming systems, such as are provided over the Internet. Many different types of game are playable. They include for example standard slot-machine type games with spinning reels, and casino-type games. They include games such as poker, keno, bingo, blackjack, roulette, pachinko, Sic-Bo and many others.

A user will typically place a bet, press a button or pull a lever to begin a game, and will win or lose based upon for example mechanical reel stops and/or a gaming machine's play algorithms and random number generators.

An aim of the present invention is to provide gaming apparatus and systems having novel features for enhancing gameplay interest.

Viewed from one aspect, the present invention provides gaming apparatus including: play means for playing a game, including means for placing a bet on a game and means for determining a win outcome based on the playing of a game; trigger means for triggering a competition phase that extends over a series of plays of a game; gameplay monitoring means for monitoring player gameplay during the series of plays of the competition phase; and reward means for determining whether a player has achieved a predetermined goal during the series of plays of the competition phase, and for rewarding a player that has achieved the goal.

In accordance with the present invention, a competition phase that extends over a series of game plays will trigger in a game, and a player will be awarded a prize associated with the competition phase, if they achieve a particular goal during their subsequent play in the series of game plays. Where a number of gaming machines or other player terminals are linked together, e.g. to play a linked jackpot, players may compete against one another over the series of game plays in the competition phase.

The present invention can provide added interest to a basic game, and provides for extra entertainment and suspense. The present invention contrasts with prior art gaming apparatus, in which for example a prize is awarded immediately when a player achieves a particular combination of slot reel symbols or the like, and wherein prizes and the like are awarded on a play by play basis. The series of plays in the competition phase may be defined as a set number of plays, e.g. 5 or 10 plays, or may relate to a number of plays that are played over a set time interval or for a set amount of gameplay, e.g. until a certain number of bets or total amount of bets have been laid. The series of plays may also be defined as the number of plays until a predetermined goal is achieved. In a linked game, the competition phase may end when one machine has reached a threshold, e.g. when it has completed a particular number of plays or a particular play outcome has occurred, at which time the competition phase may be stopped for all players.

The predetermined goal may relate to the winning of game events, e.g. prizes or features. It could relate to the winning of a particular game event or combination of game events, or could relate to the winning of a number or value of game events, e.g. more than a set threshold. These may be game events that occur in normal play, and could also relate to play outcomes that are exclusive to the competition phase, e.g. the appearance of particular competition phase symbols or specific symbol combinations that are only significant in the competition phase.

In a linked game, the predetermined goal may be to obtain the best performance over the performance of other players during the competition phase. It may also relate to being the first player to achieve a goal, in which case the competition phase may end when the goal is achieved.

The basic game that is provided by the gaming apparatus as the main game that a player will normally play may be played throughout the competition phase, so that a player continues with the same game after the competition phase triggers. The player may then continue to win as normal, whilst having the possibility of further wins through the parallel competition phase. It would also be possible to play a modified version of the basic game (e.g. higher returns) or to play a different game in the competition phase.

In linked games, each player may play their own separate game, independently of the games of other players, and each player's individual results/performances may be compared to determine a winner, e.g. through being the best performer over the series of plays or by being the first to achieve a goal during the series of plays.

In a linked system, players may play the same type of game in the competition phase, e.g. they may all play a particular form of slots game. Players may also play different types of game from one another in the competition phase. Preferably, the play outcomes for these games would be comparable to one another, e.g. comparable odds of gaming events occurring. Alternatively, different goals or other biasing may be set for different games, so that final comparisons of results are fair. Different basic games may be played until the competition event is triggered, and when the competition phase is triggered, players may continue playing their different types of game or may switch to the same type of game.

The competition phase may be triggered randomly and/or periodically. It may also be triggered in accordance with gameplay, e.g. after a certain amount of bets have been laid or games played or when a particular game outcome is achieved, e.g. a particular set of slot symbol stops occur on a payline or a particular card hand is dealt. In a linked game, individual players may trigger the competition phase or the phase may be triggered by reference to the game play of all of the players or a group of them.

The apparatus may set eligibility criteria for a player to be able to play a competition phase, e.g. the payment of a side bet. When the competition phase is triggered, means may be provided to determine which players at linked machines are eligible to play in the competition phase. Eligibility may depend on the payment of a side or supplemental bet, which might be required prior to a trigger or once a trigger occurs. Eligibility could depend on game play, e.g. players may be eligible if they are amongst the largest betters or highest winners over a set period, or if they have bet within a predetermined period prior to the triggering of the competition phase, e.g. in the previous 10 seconds. Eligibility could also be based on a player activating a feature or achieving a certain symbol combination over a set period, e.g. in the previous 5 minutes. Eligibility may further be determined on a random or other basis.

The prize that is awarded to a successful player of the competition phase may take any suitable form and e.g. may be any suitable game event, such as the winning of money or play credits or a feature event. A feature event may be for example something of value to a player that e.g. increases a player's average returns, e.g. through an increase in the chances of winning a prize or through the winning of larger prizes. It could for example relate to free plays of a game, respins, an increase in the appearance of wild symbols, higher win odds, and/or a multiplication of winnings. The feature event may last for one or more game plays.

In one embodiment, the prize relates to the winning of a jackpot, which could be a fixed or progressive jackpot and could be a linked jackpot. More than one player may be awarded a competition phase prize. For example, players may obtain different prizes based on their relative performances, e.g. the first, second and third best performers may all receive a prize or the first, second and third players to achieve a particular result may all receive a prize. When in the competition phase, game parameters may be set to specific values or may be limited to set ranges. For example, in one embodiment, players may place any or a range of bets, so as to maximise their chances of winning the competition prize relative to other players, whilst in another example, all players in the competition phase may be required to play a fixed bet so that everyone has an equal chance of winning the competition phase. Also, play time periods may be set so that everyone plays at the same rate and so completes their series of plays at the same time, or time-outs may be included so that a play must occur within a set time limit.

Alternatively, it may be that limits are not set, so that a fast player or higher betting player may receive an advantage by playing more games or having a better chance of achieving a goal.

The games in the competition phase may be played automatically by the apparatus so as to ensure timings and bettings and the like. Thus, in a ten play competition phase, the apparatus may play ten consecutive games automatically, and then determine an overall winner based on the overall performance. Player inputs may still be taken in this embodiment, e.g. a player may still need to press of a button to start the plays or e.g. may be required to place an initial bet and the like. In one embodiment, the apparatus may allow a player to play a number of competitions simultaneously. A player may for example play one basic game, the results of which are used in a number of separate competition phases, which may each have different groups of players, goals, rewards, lengths of the play series, and/or prizes. The play of multiple competitions is facilitated by players playing separate games from one another in the competition phase, the results of which are compared, and by players continuing to play the basic game in the competition phase.

The apparatus may include notification means to notify a player as to whether they are eligible for a competition phase, when a competition phase triggers, what is the goal, what is the reward, the number of plays in a series, how the competition phase is progressing and/or how players are performing.

Thus, the prize that is to be won may be advertised to the players taking part in the competition, e.g. by the notification means displaying this on a display screen of the gaming machines and/or on a linked display of the machines, and the competition phase may be thought of as providing a prize that is already won, but for which the winner has yet to be determined. The players may then continue with their play in order to win the awarded prize.

It may also be however that in some embodiments it is possible for no player to win a competition phase. For instance, a competition event may be triggered to award a prize, e.g. a jackpot or the like, to the first player to achieve a certain set of symbols, but each linked machine that is eligible may only receive ten spins to achieve the associated goal, and if no-one achieves the goal, then the competition phase may end with no-one winning the prize.

The present invention may be applied to gaming apparatus that plays any suitable game or games, e.g. slot-machine-type games or casino-type games. The present invention could relate to poker, keno, blackjack, bingo, roulette, Sic-Bo, pachinko, and many other betting games.

The present invention may be applied to any suitable type of gaming system or platform. It could apply to stand-alone gaming apparatus, e.g. electronic gaming machines, such as video gaming machines, e.g. video slot machines, and to gaming devices that are linked together, e.g. electronic gaming machines linked via a network such as an intranet. It can apply to gaming systems provided through computing or other electronic devices, e.g. personal computers, PDAs, mobile telephones, digital televisions, and the like, e.g. over the Internet or other communications networks.

The present invention may be applied to gaming apparatus that is mechanical in nature, e.g. spinning reels, and which includes electronic means for supplementing or reflecting the mechanical game play or an electronic management system. For example, the present invention may be applied to a mechanical "stepper" slot game that is coupled with an overhead video screen that may display the mechanical reels and/or may provide extra functionality, e.g. feature games, linked jackpots and the like.

In networked games, the apparatus may include a central control/server for conducting games and for managing the accounting and the like, and a number of remote terminals/clients that provide user input and display mechanisms. The control of the game may be carried out at the central control or at the remote terminals, or may be split between the two.

The present invention extends to central controls/servers and remote terminals/clients that are configured to carry out the competition phase feature of the present invention.

Viewed from another aspect, the present invention provides a gaming system, including: play means for playing a game, including means for placing a bet on a game and means for determining a win outcome based on the playing of a game; trigger means for triggering a competition phase that extends over a series of plays of a game; gameplay monitoring means for monitoring player gameplay during the series of plays of competition phase; and award means for determining whether a player has achieved a predetermined goal during the series of plays of the competition phase, and for awarding a prize to a player that has achieved the goal. Preferably, the system includes a central control for running a gaming algorithm, and a plurality of remote clients in communication with the central control over a communications network, the remote clients including displays for displaying gaming screens and inputs for allowing player interaction with the central control.

Preferably, players at the remote terminals each play a separate game, and the reward means compares player performances against one another in order to determine which players receive a competition phase reward.

Viewed from another aspect, the present invention provides a method of operating gaming apparatus, the method including the steps of: running a game on the apparatus and receiving bets relating to the game; determining the triggering of a competition phase that extends over a series of plays of a game; monitoring gameplay during the series of plays of the competition phase; determining whether a player has achieved a predetermined goal during the series of plays of the competition phase, and rewarding a player that achieves the goal.

Preferably, the player continues to play the same game in both the basic game and in the competition phase, and preferably the player continues to win prizes and features in the competition phase as in normal play.

Viewed from another aspect, the present invention provides gaming software including: a play component for playing a game, including a component for placing a bet on a game and for determining a win outcome based on the playing of a game; a trigger component for triggering a competition phase in which a player must achieve a predetermined goal over a series of plays of a game in order to obtain a reward; a monitoring component for monitoring gameplay during the series of plays of the competition phase; and a reward component for rewarding a player who has achieved the predetermined goal during the series of plays of the competition phase. The present invention also extends to gaming/computer software products, including recording media on which the above-mentioned software/program code is recorded.

Viewed from another aspect, the present invention provides gaming apparatus including: a gaming device, e.g. a software engine and/or mechanical apparatus, for running a game and receiving bets relating to the game; a competition phase trigger for triggering a competition phase that extends over a series of plays of a game; a gameplay monitor for monitoring game play during a competition phase; and a reward determination means for determining whether a player has achieved a predetermined goal during the competition phase and for rewarding a player based on the determination.

Viewed from another aspect, the present invention provides an electronic game in which a bet is placed, game events occur and wins are returned, wherein the electronic game includes a competition phase in which a player must achieve a predetermined goal over a series of game plays in order to obtain a reward.

Viewed from a further aspect, the present invention provides a gaming system including: a plurality of player terminals, each allowing a player to bet on a game, and a central control, the terminals and central control being linked to one another via a communications network; wherein the central control includes means for initiating a competition phase in which players at the player terminals play against one another for a reward, each player playing a separate game during the competition phase and the central control comparing player performances in order to determine which terminal is awarded the reward.

Viewed from a further aspect, the present invention provides a gaming system including: a plurality of player terminals, each allowing a player to bet on a game, and a central control, the terminals and central control being linked to one another via a communications network; wherein the central control includes means for initiating a competition phase in which players at the player terminals play against one another for a reward, the competition phase extending over a series of plays of a game, and the central control monitoring player performance over the series of plays in order to determine whether a player terminal is a winning terminal.

In one embodiment, the series of plays is a maximum series of plays, and the central control rewards a player who achieves the goal first within the maximum series of plays. In another embodiment, the central control determines which player has achieved the best performance over the series of plays, and rewards the best performing player.

Viewed from a further aspect, the present invention provides gaming apparatus including: means for playing a game in a normal mode and for placing bets on the game and for determining win outcomes based on the playing of the game; and means for triggering a competition phase that extends over a series of plays of the main game; wherein, in the competition phase, in addition to the win outcomes achievable in normal play, a player may win a further reward if they achieve a predetermined goal during the series of competition phase plays.

It should be noted that any one of the above-mentioned aspects may include any of the features of any of the other above-mentioned aspects and may include any of the features of any of the embodiments described below, as appropriate.

Embodiments of the present invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings. It is to be understood that the particularity of the drawings does not supersede the generality of the preceding description of the invention. In the drawings:

Figure 1 is a block diagram of gaming apparatus according to an embodiment of the present invention;

Figures 2 to 7 are screen shots of gaming machine displays, showing features according to various embodiments of the present invention; Figure 8 is a flow diagram of a control process in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

Figure 9 is a schematic diagram of further apparatus for implementing an embodiment of the present invention; and Figure 10 is a schematic diagram of further apparatus for implementing an embodiment of the present invention.

Referring to Fig. 1 , gaming apparatus, which in this case takes the form of an electronic gaming machine (EGM) 1 , includes various components, such as a controller 2 for controlling the operation of the EGM 1 and the games run on it, memory 3 for storing programs and data used by the controller 2, a credit input 4 for receiving monies, e.g. coins, tokens and/or electronic credits, e.g. stored on a player's identification/data storage card, a win output 5 for paying out winnings, e.g. as coins, tokens or electronic money, e.g. by updating a player's card, a display 6 for displaying game screens, and user inputs 7 for allowing user interaction. The user inputs 7 may include buttons 8, which may be provided as part of a touchscreen of the display 6 and/or may be separate physical buttons.

The EGM 1 may be a stand-alone machine. It may also be networked with other EGMs 1 ' and/or with a central control 9 via a suitable communications network 10, such as a LAN and/or WAN. This may for example allow for the play of networked (e.g. intranet or Internet) games, such as a linked jackpot.

In use, the EGM 1 displays an initial gaming screen on the display 6. A player inserts coins, tokens or a card into the credit input 4, and presses a button 8 to initiate play. How matters then proceed will depend on the type of game being played. For example, in a slot machine-type game, the EGM 1 will display virtual reels of symbols, and will spin and stop these reels in various win and lose symbol combinations on a payline in accordance with a stored gaming algorithm and random number generator. Alternatively, in a card-type game, a player will manage cards, e.g. receive a number of cards with which to play for a winning hand.

The player may interact via the display 6 and user inputs 7, so as to spin or hold reels, or to obtain and throw away cards and the like. Whatever game is played, a common element will be win events, e.g. particular symbol or card combinations that pay out a prize or jackpot.

Also, in order to increase interest, a game will often include bonus or feature events that may or may not relate directly to the game being played, and that generally provide an advantage of some sort. These bonus or feature events may include for example one or more free games, a respin (similar to a free game but with one or more reels held), or the chance to play for higher returns, e.g. higher payouts, better odds or the like. The bonus feature may relate to a wild feature, such as a wild symbol or card that can represent more than one type of symbol or card, and so can increase the chances of achieving a winning combination or the like. The bonus features may be provided in the main game or as "second screen" features that display on a new screen, and may be extraneous to the basic game. Bonus features are generally luck- based, but could be skills-based. They could for example allow a player to purchase an extra wild card in a draw poker skill game.

These win and feature events can be arranged to occur in many different ways, e.g. randomly or under a particular set of circumstances, e.g. triggered by a set symbol or card combination.

In accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, the EGM 1 includes a competition phase component, which initiates a competition phase in the EGM 1 and requires a player to achieve a predetermined goal during a series of plays of a game in the competition phase in order to obtain a reward. The competition phase may be played by a single player or may be played by a number of players in a linked system, in which case players may then compete against one another for a reward.

The provision of the competition phase can provide a game with extra interest and may for example allow a player to play both a normal game on which they win or lose as normal on each play of the game, and also a parallel competition game over a series of the plays. Indeed, a player could play a number of competitions simultaneously, each competition depending on the same play outcomes of the main game, but each relating to different competition goals, lengths of play and/or prizes, and, in a linked game, each relating to different groups of players.

The EGM 1 may notify a player of the status of the competition phase, e.g. by an information window 1 1 on the display 6 above the main gaming display region 12. This window 1 1 could advise of when a competition phase is active, the goal, the length of the competition phase, the reward, how far the competition has progressed, and how a player and possibly competitors are performing. It may also advise on player eligibility. Thus, the EGM 1 may include game means for playing a game, trigger means for triggering a competition phase for a series of plays of a game, means for setting a predetermined goal for a competition phase, means for notifying players of the competition phase and of its details, e.g. goal, prize and the like, monitoring means for monitoring gameplay in the competition phase, and means for awarding a player a reward if a goal is achieved during the series of plays. These means may be provided through the EGM controller 2 and memory 3. Where the central control 9 is provided, it may incorporate the relevant means itself for implementing the invention, and also may share control with the EGM 1.

The competition goal may relate to any suitable play outcome, and the goal may relate to any game events that occur during the play of a game with the EGM 1 monitoring these events in order to determine whether a goal has been reached. For example, a game event may be a prize event, e.g. the winning of money or play credits, and/or a feature or bonus event, e.g. of the types discussed above. It may also for example relate to the occurrence of a valuable symbol, such as a wild symbol, e.g. a slot reel symbol or card, or to the changing of a game's parameters to provide a higher return, e.g. through better odds or through an increase in prize amounts. It could also be a free game, a respin or the actuation of a feature game that provides these or other advantages, e.g. a jackpot spin.

The predetermined goal may relate to the number of times that game events occur during the series of competition plays, e.g. the goal may be to achieve an event a set number of times or the occurrence of one event a first number of times and another event a second number of times. It may also relate to the accumulated value of game events that occur in the competition phase, e.g. winning a threshold prize amount.

In linked machines, the goal may also be a relative goal, e.g. a prize may be awarded to the player performing the best in a competition phase or to a player that achieves a result first.

The competition phase may extend over any number of plays of a game. It may extend over a set number of plays. It may also continue until a goal has been achieved, subject possibly to a maximum number of plays. The game played in the competition phase is preferably the same game as in the main or basic game that is played on the EGM 1 , although a different type of game or a modification of the basic game (e.g. to improve odds or the like) could be played. To be eligible for a competition phase, a player may need to place a side bet or to have met certain criteria, e.g. played within the last 10 seconds, won a prize or feature within the last 5 minutes or some other gameplay based criteria. Eligibility may also be automatic, i.e. there may be no eligibility requirements.

The competition phase may trigger randomly, periodically, or through gameplay. For example, the competition phase may trigger when a set combination of symbols occurs or when a threshold number of game events is reached, either by individuals or by combining results for a number of players.

The apparatus may include means for fixing or limiting the play parameters of the basic game or games when a competition phase is being played. For example, the competition phase may require a fixed bet on the underlying basic games that are played in the series. This can prevent one player from increasing their chances of a win relative to those of another. Alternatively, this may be allowed, so that a player may obtain an advantage by playing more quickly or by betting larger amounts. Time limits may also be set, so that play is not held up by one person, e.g. by providing a time-out or countdown feature.

Plays in the competition phase may alternatively be carried out automatically by the apparatus, although a player may still initiate the starting of a series of plays and/or set initial bets and the like. The reward for achieving the competition goal may be of any suitable type, and, e.g. may be a cash prize or play credits. The prize amount may be fixed or may be variable. It may be the winning of a jackpot. It could also relate to the winning of a game feature, such as triple winnings for a set number of games or the like. A player may play more than one competition at a time, and, for example, details of each competition may be provided in a separate window 1 1. Each of the competitions may use the results of the same game to determine competition winners, but each competition may have different goals, play lengths, prizes, players and eligibility requirements. Fig. 2 is a screen shot of a display 6 showing one way of implementing the competition phase in a slot reel type game.

The screen shot shows a number of virtual gaming reels 20 that are spun to provide symbol combinations in accordance with the rules of the gaming algorithms run by the controller 2 and its random number generators. It also shows touchscreen buttons 21 that allow a user to place a bet, to choose the number of pay lines to play (numbered along the left and right sides of the reels

20), and to set the reels 20 spinning. It further shows indicator boxes 22 for indicating a player's remaining credits, the bets laid and a player's accumulated winnings.

Above the reels 20 is an information window 23 that indicates when a competition phase has started and whether or not the player is eligible for the competition phase. Thus, in Fig. 2 the player is shown as eligible for the competition phase when it begins, whilst Fig. 3 shows that the player is eligible for the next five games only (and may need to requalify for eligibility, e.g. by achieving a specific play result or by paying a further side bet).

Once the competition phase is triggered, the window 23 informs the player accordingly, and the machine goes into competition mode. Thus, in Fig.

4, the window 23 states that a jackpot contest is active, and also indicates the goal that must be achieved during the competition phase in order to win a prize.

In this case, the prize is shown as a jackpot, and the goal is to win a particular feature. For a non-linked system, the feature would need to be hit within a predetermined number of plays or time period, and for a linked system, the first player to hit the feature (within a maximum number of plays) may win the reward.

Fig. 5 shows a competition in which the goal is to be achieved over a set number of plays, e.g. 10 plays of the game. For a single player competition phase, a gameplay threshold may need to be reached during the 10 plays, whilst for a linked multi-player competition phase the goal may be a relative goal, so that the player who achieves a best performance receives the reward. Performance may be based on any suitable measure, e.g. the player who achieves the highest value of prize money or the highest number of prize or feature events during the competition phase. Fig. 6 shows an active competition phase in which the goal is again to hit a feature, which could be a specific feature or any of a number of features. This could again require the hit to be within a specific number of plays or time period or could require a player to be the first to hit the feature. In this case, the reward for achieving the set goal is to win 50% of a jackpot.

Fig. 7 is another modification in which the goal is to hit a win event and the reward is a multiple of the normal prize associated with the win event, e.g. a prize of 10 times the normal win amount. The hitting of the win may be within a set number of plays or time period, or, in multi-player competition phases, may relate to the first person to hit a win. The win event may be a particular win event or could be a specific win event.

Whilst playing the competition phase in each of the above cases, the player may still continue to win normal prizes and features on each individual play of a game in the series of plays. Fig. 8 shows one possible flowchart for the provision of a linked machine competition phase feature. Thus, an embodiment of the present invention may be put into effect by the central control 9 running software that incorporates a subroutine executing in the manner shown.

The competition game phase routine monitors at step S1 for when an appropriate trigger event occurs, e.g. a random or periodic trigger is activated or a gameplay trigger is activated, e.g. when a set combination of symbols occurs on one or more machines or when a set amount of gameplay occurs based on play on one or more machines.

Once the trigger occurs, the routine passes to step S2, where the control 9 determines which of the linked EGMs 1 ,1 ' are eligible to play in the competition. Eligibility may be determined through the prepayment of a side bet or may be determined randomly or in view of other gameplay considerations, e.g. players who have placed a bet during a predetermined period prior to the trigger or who have achieved certain outcomes. If not eligible at the trigger, a player could be given the chance to take part by paying a side bet at that time.

Once player eligibility is determined, the routine passes to step S3, where the central control 9 informs each of the eligible machines of the start of the competition phase, and may provide other information also, e.g. the goal, competition phase length and associated reward or rewards. Gameplay is then monitored at step S4 during the competition phase until the competition phase ends, e.g. after a set number of plays or once a set goal is achieved. The determination of a winner and the end of the competition phase is then communicated to the players at step S5, and the winning player is awarded the prize at step S6.

The above is of course only one possible routine and other steps and routines may be utilised as well.

Fig. 9 is a schematic diagram of further apparatus for carrying out an embodiment of the present invention, in which there is a central control/server 90 that communicates with a number of remote player terminals/client programs

91 , e.g. computing devices, through a suitable communications medium 92, e.g. the Internet or an Intranet. The computing devices 91 could for example be personal computers, PDAs, mobile phones, digital televisions or the like, and the communications medium 92 may be e.g. the Internet, an intranet, a telephone or television communications system, e.g. satellite or cable television, or any other suitable communications network.

In this embodiment, the running of a game and the determining of bet outcomes, competition phases and the like can occur on the central control 90, whilst user inputs and the display of games screens and the like occur on the player terminals 91. The terminals 91 may receive program code from the central control 90 in order to provide a user interface.

Fig. 10 shows further apparatus that could implement an embodiment of the present invention, in which an electronic gaming machine 100 includes a mechanical part 101 and an associated electronic control and display 102. The mechanical part 101 includes a set of mechanical reels 103 and player buttons 104, with the reels 103 being spun and stopped to provide prizes and features based on the resulting reel symbols. The electronic control 102 displays the results of the reels 103, e.g. as screen reels 105, and also oversees any feature functions and the like associated with the game, such as a competition game phase, through further display areas 106. The control 102 may also form links with other such machines 100, e.g. for multi-player competitions and for linked jackpots.

As can be seen, the gaming apparatus may take many different forms, including an EGM or computing network. It could for example comprise a game provided on a computing or other electronic device, such as on a personal computer, PDA, mobile phone, digital television, or the like. The game may be provided over an intranet, the Internet, or some other communications system, such as a mobile telephone system. The game or games played may take any suitable form. They could be e.g. a slot machine type game or a casino-type game. They could be e.g. poker, keno, bingo, Sic-Bo, pachinko, blackjack, roulette or any other suitable game.

It is to be understood that various alterations, additions and/or modifications may be made to the parts previously described without departing from the ambit of the present invention, and that, in the light of the above teachings, the present invention may be implemented in mechanical elements, in software, in firmware and/or in hardware in a variety of manners as would be understood by a person skilled in the art.

Claims

Claims
1. Gaming apparatus including: play means for playing a game, including means for placing a bet on a game and means for determining a win outcome based on the playing of a game; trigger means for triggering a competition phase that extends over a series of plays of a game; gameplay monitoring means for monitoring player gameplay during the series of plays of the competition phase; and reward means for determining whether a player has achieved a predetermined goal during the series of plays of the competition phase, and for rewarding a player that has achieved the goal.
2. The apparatus of claim 1 , wherein the reward means provides no reward if a player does not achieve the goal within the series of competition plays.
3. The apparatus of claim 1 or 2, wherein the predetermined goal is related to one or more of: the achieving of a threshold number of game events, e.g. prize wins or feature events; the achieving of a threshold value related to the game events; the achieving of a predetermined game event; and the achieving of a predetermined combination of game events.
4. The apparatus of any preceding claim, wherein the apparatus includes a plurality of linked player terminals.
5. The apparatus of claim 4, wherein in the competition phase players of the terminals play separate games, and wherein results achieved in the separate games are compared to determine a reward.
6. The apparatus of claim 4 or 5, wherein the award means determines the first player of a terminal to achieve a predetermined goal and rewards the first player.
7. The apparatus of claim 4, 5 or 6, wherein the award means determines which of the players achieves the best performance over a said series of plays, e.g. a set number of plays of a game or the plays over a set amount of time, and rewards the player with the best performance, e.g. with the most or highest value total game events.
8. The apparatus of any one of claims 4 to 7, wherein the reward means rewards a plurality of players based on relative player results over said series of plays.
9. The apparatus of any preceding claim, wherein, in addition to a competition phase reward, on each play of a game in the series of competition phase plays, the apparatus awards prize and features events in accordance with normal (non-competition) play of the game.
10. The apparatus of any preceding claim, wherein the play means plays a common game in both the competition phase and in non-competition play.
11. The apparatus of any preceding claim, wherein parameters of a game played in the competition phase are set by the apparatus, e.g. bet amounts, playing times, activation times and the like.
12. The apparatus of any preceding claim, wherein the apparatus allows a multiple of separate competition phases to be played at the same time based on gameplay relating to a common game, each competition phase being triggered separately and having separate goals.
13. The apparatus of any preceding claim, wherein the competition game phase is triggered randomly or periodically.
14. The apparatus of any preceding claim, wherein the competition game phase is triggered in accordance with player gameplay.
15. The apparatus of any preceding claim, wherein the reward means awards a cash prize or a feature event as the reward.
16. The apparatus of any preceding claim, wherein the reward means awards a jackpot, e.g. a fixed or progressive or linked jackpot.
17. The apparatus of any preceding claim, including eligibility determining means for determining whether a player is eligible to enter the competition game phase.
18. The apparatus of claim 17, wherein eligibility is determined by one or more of: random selection; the placing of a side bet (before the trigger or at the trigger); and player gameplay (e.g. gameplay over a set time period prior to a trigger, e.g. bet history or that a player placed a bet or achieved a prize or feature within a set period prior to the trigger).
19. The apparatus of any preceding claim, including notification means for notifying a player of information regarding a competition phase.
20. The apparatus of claim 19, wherein the notification means displays one or more of: a player's eligibility for a competition phase; the triggering of a competition phase; a predetermined goal; the length of the competition phase; the reward; a stage of the competition phase; and a performance of other players.
21. A gaming system, including: play means for playing a game, including means for placing a bet on a game and means for determining a win outcome based on the playing of a game; trigger means for triggering a competition phase that extends over a series of plays of a game; gameplay monitoring means for monitoring player gameplay during the series of plays of competition phase; and award means for determining whether a player has achieved a predetermined goal during the series of plays of the competition phase, and for awarding a prize to a player that has achieved the goal.
22. The system of claim 21 , wherein the system includes a central control for running a gaming algorithm, and a plurality of remote clients in communication with the central control over a communications network, the remote clients including displays for displaying gaming screens and inputs for allowing player interaction with the central control.
23. The system of claim 22, wherein players at the remote terminals each play a separate game, and wherein the reward means compares player performances against one another in order to determine which players receive a competition phase reward.
24. A method of operating gaming apparatus, the method including the steps of: running a game on the apparatus and receiving bets relating to the game; determining the triggering of a competition phase that extends over a series of plays of a game; monitoring gameplay during the series of plays of the competition phase; determining whether a player has achieved a predetermined goal during the series of plays of the competition phase, and rewarding a player that achieves the goal.
25. The method of claim 24, wherein the same game is played in the competition phase as in non-competition play, and wherein a player continues to win prizes and feature events in the competition phase as in non-competition play.
26. Gaming software including: a play component for playing a game, including a component for placing a bet on a game and for determining a win outcome based on the playing of a game; a trigger component for triggering a competition phase in which a player must achieve a predetermined goal over a series of plays of a game in order to obtain a reward; a monitoring component for monitoring gameplay during the series of plays of the competition phase; and a reward component for rewarding a player who has achieved the predetermined goal during the series of plays of the competition phase.
27. Gaming/computer software products, including recording media on which the software of claim 26 is recorded.
28. Gaming apparatus including: a gaming device for running a game and receiving bets relating to the game; a competition phase trigger for triggering a competition phase that extends over a series of plays of a game; a gameplay monitor for monitoring game play during a competition phase; and a reward determination means for determining whether a player has achieved a predetermined goal during the competition phase and for rewarding a player based on the determination.
29. An electronic game in which a bet is placed, game events occur and wins are returned, wherein the electronic game includes a competition phase in which a player must achieve a predetermined goal over a series of game plays in order to obtain a reward.
30. A gaming system including: a plurality of player terminals, each allowing a player to bet on a game, and a central control, the terminals and central control being linked to one another via a communications network; wherein the central control includes means for initiating a competition phase in which players at the player terminals play against one another for a reward, each player playing a separate game during the competition phase and the central control comparing player performances in order to determine which terminal is awarded the reward.
31. The system of claim 30, wherein the series of plays is a maximum series of plays, and wherein the central control rewards a player who achieves the goal first within the maximum series of plays.
32. The system of claim 30, wherein the central control determines which player has achieved the best performance over the series of plays, and rewards the best performing player.
33. A gaming system including: a plurality of player terminals, each allowing a player to bet on a game, and a central control, the terminals and central control being linked to one another via a communications network; wherein the central control includes means for initiating a competition phase in which players at the player terminals play against one another for a reward, the competition phase extending over a series of plays of a game, and the central control monitoring player performance over the series of plays in order to determine whether a player terminal is a winning terminal.
34. Gaming apparatus including: means for playing a game in a normal mode and for placing bets on the game and for determining win outcomes based on the playing of the game; and means for triggering a competition phase that extends over a series of plays of the main game; wherein, in the competition phase, in addition to the win outcomes achievable in normal play, a player may win a further reward if they achieve a predetermined goal during the series of competition phase plays.
PCT/AU2008/000705 2007-05-24 2008-05-21 Gaming apparatus and methods WO2008141378A1 (en)

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