A pair of long-time Australian gaming execs, Tony McAuslan and Mario Castellari, unveiled plans this week for what they're calling the world's first game design studio to be independent of any one gaming machine manufacturer, online systems provider or online casino operator.
The new venture is called Next Generation Gaming Pty. Ltd. It will initially establish offices in Sydney and London and will employ around sixty mathematicians and game designers. The company, with the aid of funding by a number of major Australian media organizations, will focus its efforts on the design and production of a range of Australian slot-style games that incorporate many of the features found in more traditional interactive games , such as 3D graphics , advanced sound and adventure-based play. It's also in the process of negotiating a number of co-development deals with several international sporting , film and television intellectual property owners which will enable it to provide a unique point of difference in its product range.
The new company will primarily target the growing pool of gaming operators seeking to gain Internet casino licenses in Australia as well as media organizations wishing to move into interactive or Web TV.
The company is also negotiating with a number of major Australian and European-based gaming machine manufacturers with a view to supplying them with third-party games that will operate across a number of what was previously considered to be proprietary software platforms.
In announcing the new venture, CEO Tony McAuslan, who's held senior marketing roles with both Aristocrat and IGT, said, "Due to the sophistication of the Australian player, Australia has long led the world in innovative game design , and we're confident that the skills we've developed in attracting these sophisticated players will translate well onto the Internet."
McAuslan added that attracting start-up funds in Australia had been "relatively easy" and said that the current ban on Internet gaming in the U.S. had given Australia "the chance to become the dominant global player in the field of Internet gaming--estimated by Merrill Lynch to be worth upwards of US$7 billion over the next five years--due to our record of probity and the willingness of our State governments to embrace a controlled gaming environment."
According to McAuslan, plans for the new venture had been "on the drawing board" for nearly a year. He also said that his and Castellari's recent departures from IGT had been very amicable and were in no way related to the recent bout of retrenchments that were announced by IGT Managing Director-Michael Horne, last Friday. McAuslan, in fact, will remain a consultant to IGT- Australia.
Next Generation Gaming has already signed deals to supply its innovative range of games to some of Australia's largest potential online casino operators--many of whom currently have beta test sites under construction for release early in 2000.
McAuslan, who has been enlisted as a key-note speaker at the forthcoming Australasian Casinos and Gaming conference to be held in Queensland's Surfers Paradise in February of next near, said, "Next Generation aims to change the way that people play games on the Internet," and added that, "New site operators are going to have to come to terms with a much more sophisticated style of player over the next twelve months ... The standard of games currently being offered by most online casinos wouldn't hold the average Australian slot player's attention for more than five minutes."
Next Generation aims to launch its first range of Australian-style slot games at the forthcoming International Casino Exhibition, which will be held in London January 25-27, 2000. The company will be featured there as a game development partner at Access Systems' booth.