EAG 2019 Review
A quality gathering of the industry’s biggest and brightest at London’s ExCel
Global Amusements and Play took a trip to the capital during this year’s EAG Show (15th – 17th January), where a wealth of exhibitors and enthusiasts had gathered to check out what’s on the cutting edge of the amusements industry.
The show, celebrating its tenth anniversary, returned to ExCel boasting a different look and feel from previous years – a variety of different sized stalls peppered the halls, and the addition of technology business brought a new dimension to the offerings.
“EAG was once again a fantastic showcase for the industry.” commented Bacta Chief Executive John White. “With new products and reinvented concepts, the amusement machine and entertainment sector demonstrated that inexpensive fun was, is and will be, available for our customers in high quality venues up and down the UK.”
Whilst visitor numbers are as yet unconfirmed, EAG International & VAE Chairman, Martin Burlin, explained that details are forthcoming. “It appears promising,” Martin said. “with numbers likely to be around the same as or slightly ahead of last year. In the light of current political uncertainties, this is a very positive reflection on the industry. The proportion of International visitors at 25% is also in line with last year.”
With more than 100 exhibitors in attendance, EAG continued its tradition of serving as a melting pot for a range of sectors – manufacturers, suppliers, buyers and enthusiasts (and us members of the press, too!). This social aspect was widely praised, and highly valued.
Paolo Sidoli (SB Machines – Managing Director) told Global Amusements & Play: “EAG is our most important show and is a focal exhibition for anybody who takes the coin op sector seriously.” Sidoli also commented that despite seemingly subdued visitor numbers, exhibitors remained strong – and that SB Machines had already reconfirmed their presence for 2020 with a larger stand. “It is still a purchaser’s show, and the quality rather than quantity of customers is key.”
Quality was touched upon a number of times, with EAG’s attendees praised for an increased attunement to the products and markets – a result of the show being so specified. Key exhibitors who spoke to Global Amusements and Play also noted that the influx of overseas visitors had led to expounded creation of new contacts.
Existing customers were keen to continue their orders with exhibitors, and new potential clients, who may indeed have been preferring to wait until the start of the season, enjoyed the show as a launchpad.
David Robinson (UK General Manager – World of Rides) noted the absence of a few familiar faces at the event, but otherwise praised the crowd. “Those who did attend were all key decision makers who knew exactly what their businesses needed for the coming ‘staycation’ year, and as a result most either placed provisional orders there and then, or have begun to place confirmed orders in the days since our return.”
The must-see stands
VR maintained a strong presence at the show, drawing continued attention from across the sector as the technology involved grows more nuanced and impressive. Florian Collin (Sales Manager – VEX Solutions) echoed the sentiment, reflecting on the impressed VEX Solutions stall: “I personally think that what drew the attention was the fact that we had so many physical effects involved (wind, heat, vibrations on the ground, on the players’ chests and heads, hand recognition and even smells), as well as a great content library.”
Collins also confirmed that VEX would be attending the show in 2020 edition of the show, as the UK is currently one of the most important markets – and the show itself great place to meet with customers.
Sacoa brought a full line-up of products to the show (which you can read about here!), and also confirmed their presence for 2020 – though noted that the UK market may not be yet prepared to migrate into a debit card system.
“Operators have diverse cash management requirements. With our back-office cash handling solutions and our excellent brands, such as CashComplete, SCAN COIN and Comestero, we are able to serve this market segment successfully,” said Norman Ridall (Sales Manager – Suzohapp in UK and Ireland)
Suzohapp also introduced the E-PRL electronic reprogrammable lock, a new patented high-tech locking system which offers more than 10 billion possible combinations, Developed by Giussani Techniques.
Innovative Technology also reported a successful showing, with a steady stream of visitors gathering at its stand to see the Live Ticket, Live Collect solutions and ReelPay – their new mobile payment app.
“We had a great show at EAG 2019 and had some positive conversations with both new and existing customers wanting to upgrade or add to their already established ITL products.” Andy Bullock (Senior Business Development Manager – Innovative Technology) told Global Amusements & Play. “Live Collect was officially launched following successful closed trials. This system enables operators to optimise cash handling and revolutionise collection efficiency.”
Wherever you wandered during EAG, you were certain to bump into an IP sooner rather than later. Gareth Jones (Production Manager – Kiddy Rides) commented on the enduring allure of such icons. “We have a range of licensed machines. Children’s brands, characters from TV which are instantly recognisable and people are drawn to that. We have rides from Peppa Pig, PJ Masks, and PAWPatrol which are all popular within any children’s category.”
Josep Tarres (CEO – DC images) noted the international flair to the show – marbled with guests from all across Europe, not just the UK. He also hailed the design of the DC Stand – a colourful circular construction with displays showcasing the various photo booths. One of the latest DC offerings is a “printing shop in a booth” – able to print passport pictures, pictures from a mobile phone and, of course, your more typical photo booth pictures.
As for future releases, Tarres confirmed that DC plans to reveal two-to-three new products every year… but details are firmly under lock and key at the moment!
SB Machines had a variety of children’s rides on exhibit, and when asked which in particular were catching the eyes of the crowd, Paolo Sidoli (SB Machines – Managing Director) told us: “No doubt our Hot Air Balloon, Funcopter and Train Carousel. Rides that are aesthetically appealing, up-to-date from a technical point of view, and well proven in the market place.”
John Stergides (Electrocoin), likewise stated that its redemption machines – and the pinball machines in particular – were a resounding hit, with the Beatles pinball machine, as well as the new Konami closed loop pusher, Marble Carnival, stealing the spotlight.
“Every year we try to introduce at least one or two new products to our range, and this year was no exception.” David Robinson (UK General Manager – World of Rides) explain, speaking on the World of Rides display at the show. “Our most popular models in our battery ride range this year were our Big Car Outlander, which doubles as a Driving School car, our Hit & Spin Bumper Cars, our Beetle Crazy Cars for younger children, and our Three Horse Traditional Gallopers Carousel kiddie ride.”
Other new announcements included UNIS’ Coconut Shy – revealed during EAG itself. The game is a carnival-style test of skill, accompanied by an LED display. Ian Eason (Instance Automatics) says that he expects the game will be a best seller throughout 2019 and into 2020, and Callum Wright from Clacton Pavillion at Clacton on the Sea agreed.
“Coconut Shy is popular with all age groups and is easy for young children & adults to enjoy” he said, and considers it the number one game of its kind, looking forward to the possibility of adding a two-player machine.
Martin Austin made his return to the industry on the Harry Levy stand. Martin, who has worked for several high-profile industry companies including Reflex Gaming, took a brief break to work in property. However, he soon realised that he missed the amusement and gaming industry.
“The grass was not greener, that’s for sure,” he said. “I realised that this industry was in my soul and was lucky enough to join Harry Levy at the end of 2018.”
Martin’s job is a field sales role, like his predecessor at Harry Levy, Micky Kennedy, who decided to retire last year. “Micky has left a large void and I am doing my best to fill that by taking over his accounts and developing new business,” says Martin. “I will be actively engaging in conversations with customers about new equipment and new ideas.”
Bandai’s standout display saw a dense amount of traffic during the show, something that James Anderson (Commercial & Sales Director – Bandai) claims was down to a decision to showcase the ‘ever-greens’ still performing well alongside a large number of new products.
The two-player version of Halo: Fireteam Raven came to EAG, as well as compact 4-player versions of Tomb Raider and Rabbids Hollywood. Super Bikes 3 – the latest instalment of the incredible Superbikes series – proved markedly popular.
A full range of gifts and plushes featuring top brands drew attention, with the Shazam and Minecraft ranges proving most popular. John Beresford (Prize Division – Bandai) also commented: “We also took a lot of orders for electrical products and confectionery and our new selection of inflatable balls for cranes, with a redemption twist.”
Lester Travasso (Sales & Marketing Executive – Sega) likewise had a busy three days in London, telling Global Amusements & Play that he’d seen visitors queuing to play House of the Dead – 100 units of which have already been sold in the USA.
Making its debut at EAG was ATV Slam, a next-level All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) racing game that boasts its own life-size quadbike mounted on a custom developed motion platform.
There were plenty of new redemption titles for operators to check out – such as ICE’s reinvented classic ‘whacker’ game, Whack A Clown, Super Kixx Pro, and Waterfuls, bringing the Tomy classic kids’ game to the arcade featuring virtual water..
“There have been nine successful years of EAG and this is shaping up to be the tenth.” Travasso surmised. “Along with existing clients, there’s always new customers and we’ve seen people from all across Europe; Turkey, Germany and France, and even the Middle East.”
Thanks to distributor Electrocoin, five Stern pinball machines were on display for attendees to play. Both the Beatles and Munsters machines were well received, with operators looking at the Beatles as being a long sustaining title that will do well in both FEC and street locations.
Almost every European Stern distributor was present including Chinese and Middle Eastern distributors for Gary Stern’s distributor meeting. In this meeting, Gary discussed the short-term and long-term plans for the company, going into great detail about the three major markets for Stern.”
In addition, Gary shared with the distributors the horizon for the newly launched website, the next generation hardware platform and the future of the merchandise and accessories programs. In addition to the distributor meeting, Stern held 18 one-on-one meetings to discuss the opportunities that lie ahead in each market. The overall feedback from the distributors was positive, with many reports of Barcades recently opening or on the schedule to open later this year.
January 17th saw the Foundations Entertainment University 1-Day Program attended by 37 attendees from the UK, UAE, Spain, Belgium, Greece, Italy, and the U.S. These visitors gathered to learn how to grow their games and family attractions businesses. Nine Foundations University sponsors also presented short sessions (Platinum Sponsors EMBED, US Bowling, Betson and Gold Sponsors Creative Works and Galaxy Multi Rides), whilst speakers Kevin Williams and Frank Price tackled the major topics.
Frank ‘the Crank’ Seninsky, Foundations University owner, stated: “Absolutely Amazing was the reaction as such a large group was not anticipated. I closed the registration at 30 but people continued to register up to the midnight January 16th, and there were even several walk-ins.”
With many companies already forming plans for 2020, Global Amusements & Play inquired as to what improvements could be made ahead of the show’s eleventh year. The consensus was generally positive, though a number of respondents felt that ExCel was a less-than convenient venue.
“A completed cross rail line would have helped access to Excel. The socialising events organised in the evening are great for cementing business relationships.” Said Paolo Sidoli (SB Machines – Managing Director), an opinion shared and championed by others, who cite that a move to central London would boost the number of domestic and overseas clients.
In a similar vein, David Robinson (UK General Manager – World of Rides) touched on the absence of a handful of prominent figures. “The reasons for the decrease in attendees are not apparently clear. I think that BACTA needs to send a short questionnaire to the membership to try to ascertain the reasons. It is very difficult to say what can be done by BACTA to make the show different, as most of the related problems were not entirely of their own making, but speaking to other show exhibitors it was discussed that a move back to Olympia in central London would be a great help.”
A fantastic way to mark the 10th anniversary of the show; a busy networking event, showcase of industry firsts and debuts, and an established name in the B2B exhibition world, EAG looks set to continue the trend in 2020 – so we’ll see you there!
EAG International & VAE will return to ExCel London on 14th-16th January 2020.