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‘Sons of Anarchy’ slots headed for casino floor

Aristocrat Technologies didn’t have to sell the producers of the “Sons of Anarchy” television series on the idea of creating a slot machine based on the fictional outlaw motorcycle club.

The show’s top executives approached the gaming company to discuss the concept.

The game, which features images of the main characters from “Sons of Anarchy,” footage from the FX cable network series and a new way for gamblers to collect bonus rewards, will be unveiled next week at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas.

The annual conference and trade show runs Tuesday through Thursday at the Sands Expo and Convention Center. G2E, which is closed to the public, is traditionally the venue where the slot machine industry unveils its new games and products to casino operators.

Last year, Aristocrat displayed slot machines based on the AMC cable television series, “The Walking Dead.”

The game caught the eyes of the “Sons of Anarchy” producers, who were visiting the tradeshow floor.

“They not only wanted us to come up with a slot machine based on their show, they wanted the same team that produced ‘The Walking Dead’ game to work on their slot machine,” said Dallas Orchard, vice president of gaming operations for Aristocrat.

The idea was turned over to Ted Hase, an Aristocrat vice president who heads the company’s R&D Global Games design studio. Hase said “Sons of Anarchy” is driven by its characters and their story lines, as opposed to “Walking Dead,” which is overrun with zombies.

“We didn’t have zombies to fall back on,” Hase said.

Hase said the slot machine had to appeal to several audiences: the show’s producers, Aristocrat executives, the show’s loyal fan base, and — ultimately — casino gamblers.

“You don’t want to disappoint the constituent fan base because a show like this has a loyal following,” Hase said. “We sat back and looked at the essence of ‘Sons of Anarchy’ and what the show is all about.”

The past and present characters — including Jax, Gemma, Clay, Tara and Opie — are included in the game because of what they represent.

“These characters all have immense appetites,” Hase said. “Whatever they acquired, they wanted more.”

That concept was worked into the game’s bonus rounds, which create a new way for the game’s players to rack up additional credits.

Instead of lining up symbols, customers earn bonus points by creating clusters of characters across multiple positions and reels. In one bonus round, players are also given opportunities to “risk everything” for chances of larger prizes.

Hase said the cluster concept, developed by R&D Global’s director of games Ryan Hawkins, has a pending application with the U.S. Patent Office.

The slot machine’s high-definition video screen, graphics and sounds attempt to the capture the “Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club,” which operates out of a fictional town in the California Central Valley. The show’s production team filmed scenes that were specially created for the slot machine.

Hawkins said the game designers still have more content from the series that will be added to the slot machines.

Aristocrat designers said the series story lines were intertwined throughout the game so that it appeals to “Sons of Anarchy” fans. However, they said a slot machine player who was unfamiliar with the show will still enjoy the game because of the machine’s features.

Orchard said “Sons of Anarchy” fits into Aristocrat’s strategy of securing high-profile licensed titles. The company, which is headquartered in Australia but operates its American headquarters out of Las Vegas, was targeting release of the game to casinos for April.

“‘Sons of Anarchy’ is distributed in over 120 countries,” Orchard said. “Given our global distributions, and there are talks of movie and a spinoff series, the longevity is there for us to capitalize on this game.”

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.

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