Ellen DeGeneres Slots
In September of 2014 Emmy award winning daytime television host and pop culture icon Ellen DeGeneres partnered with casino gaming manufacturer International Game Technology, IGT, to release a new line of Ellen branded slot machines.
The two titles to debut at that time were The Ellen DeGeneres Show Featuring 12 Days of Giveaways and The Ellen DeGeneres Show Featuring Ellen's Dance Party.
Beginning her career in the 1980's as a standup comedian, DeGeneres made headlines in 1986 by becoming the first female comic to be invited for a post set chat by legendary Tonight Show host Johnny Carson. By 1994 DeGeneres was cast as the lead in her own sitcom Ellen, and in 1997 she made history once more by becoming the first active network actor to come out as a lesbian. The character of Ellen Morgan was also revealed to be a lesbian on the show, and after that DeGeneres became a leading voice in driving Hollywood's increased acceptance of LGBT issues.
In 2003 the Ellen DeGeneres Show began airing, providing DeGeneres with her own talk show style venue through which to discuss current events and other topical issues. The widespread success of her talk show eventually enabled DeGeneres to host the Academy Awards, the Grammy Awards, and the Primetime Emmy Awards.
By modeling her slot machine lineup on her wildly popular talk show, one which still airs today while drawing massive audiences both on television and online, DeGeneres hopes to capture the show's uniquely irreverent essence. Asked about the opportunity to partner with IGT in branding her own line of slot machines, DeGeneres spoke glowingly of the new venture:
"I'm so excited to have my very own line of slot machines. People are gonna have the chance to play really fun games, have their own mini dance parties and win actual cold, hard cash. I mean, honestly, what more do you want from me?"
Fans of The Ellen DeGeneres Show are known for being a boisterous bunch, joining in with the host as DeGeneres leads spontaneous dance parties and other fun filled activities. Each episode averages nearly 4 million viewers, and DeGeneres' faithful following of fans gladly get up and bust a move when their hero begins strutting her stuff on stage.
Combined with a social media presence unrivaled among daytime talk show hosts, one which has created several of the most well-known viral videos to make headlines in recent years, DeGeneres'; ability to connect with her adoring fans lies at the heart of IGT's Ellen branded slot machine offerings.
Kord Nichols, who serves as vice president and assistant general manager for Graton Resort and Casino in California, described the air of interactive excitement created by the six Ellen DeGeneres Show machines operated within his establishment:
"Ellen has a wide audience, which means slots that have her on them appeal to a broad group of people. Slot machines with a fun theme are just more fun to play, (and) these became some of the most popular in the house. It's not unusual to see a crowd standing around the machines, laughing at what transpires while people play."
Joe Sigrist, senior vice president of global product development and operations for IGT, spoke of Ellen's continued pop culture relevance as a prime motivation behind the union:
"When it became possible for us to license this brand, we knew that it was obviously a great match with our core demographic, but equally important, we also knew how current Ellen is, how hot she is, how really successful her show continues to be. It is really important to have brands that are current, and it's been great timing for us to launch these games at the height of her popularity."
Gameplay Features and Mechanics
Each of the two Ellen branded slot machine offerings designed by IGT include distinctive coloration and imagery to distinguish one from the other, but both games are classic five reel, multiline video slots.
The Ellen DeGeneres Show Featuring 12 Days of Giveaways features the Ellen DeGeneres Show logo atop the machine, set over a blue background. This machine is offered in two versions; a 5-reel, 15 line, configurable maximum wager game including a plus 5 side bet ascent, as well as a 5 reel, 30 line game with 20 side bet ascent.
Conversely, The Ellen DeGeneres Show Featuring Ellen's Dance Party includes the same logo, but this machine is clad in pink and purple rather than blue. This machine is offered in one format; a 5 reel, 432 way configurable maximum bet plus 5-side bet ascent.
Both games display their five reel interfaces within a 42-inch vertical touchscreen display, and IGT has also elected to house its Ellen branded slot machines inside of the innovative CrystalCore game cabinet. Boasting state of the art graphics, animations, voiceovers, and sound effects, IGT's CrystalCore cabinet is the perfect vehicle with which to recreate a dynamic medium like daytime television.
Commenting on the choice to use CrystalCore technology to power the new Ellen branded slot line, Sigrist reiterated IGT's commitment to replicating the television viewer's experience:
"We wanted to put the Ellen show on our best hardware. From a presentation standpoint, we really challenged our studios to use that single, immersive screen in a very leading-edge way, from the incorporation of video from her show to the use of custom voice recordings she did for us. All of those things were incorporated into the art and presentation of these games."
As the first spin of your session begins, fans of The Ellen DeGeneres Show will be glad to hear the catchy theme song that serves as an opener for every episode surround them with familiar sounds. Eventually, Ellen herself makes an appearance, popping up on screen to alert players to upcoming bonus rounds or to congratulate them on a recent win.
Combined with familiar imagery direct from The Ellen DeGeneres Show set, these games also include genuine voiceover work performed by Ellen herself. As the voice behind characters from animated hits like Finding Nemo, in which DeGeneres played the loyal fish friend Dory, the talk show hosts' signature one liners are sure to make an appearance during sessions of any length.
While both versions of the game share the same foundation of integrating Ellen's on air personality, both The Ellen DeGeneres Show Featuring 12 Days of Giveaways and The Ellen DeGeneres Show Featuring Ellen's Dance Party were designed to rely on specific themes. Sigrist described IGT's design philosophy by observing:
"We wanted to make sure we themed these games and incorporated elements that were really important aspects of her show. And two of the really well-known aspects are Twelve Days of Giveaways – people who are able to secure tickets for this part of the show actually cry – and the dancing. She is really known as a dancing aficionado, and it's a very important element of her show."
To that end, The Ellen DeGeneres Show Featuring Ellen's Dance Party machines offer players a more musical experience, one in which Ellen's image will appear frequently while dancing to the beat. Symbols you can expect to see while playing this version of the game include cassette tapes, record players, vinyl albums, and Ellen's famous pair of dancing shoes.
On the other hand, The Ellen DeGeneres Show Featuring 12 Days of Giveaways is premised more on the show's famous gifting sprees or special episodes during which audience members are lavished with complimentary Ellen themed gifts. The symbols included in this game follow suit, with boxer shorts, tote bags, coffee mugs, and other giveaways taken straight from the show appearing on screen.
Scoring Free Spins and Multipliers
While casino regulars surely appreciate a comprehensive branding approach, like that utilized by IGT in transporting Ellen from the small screen to slot machines, the real bread and butter of successful slots has always been the bonus features.
Thankfully, IGT made sure to incorporate innovative bonus games that serve to make players feel like they've purchased a ticket to see The Ellen DeGeneres Show in person:
This interactive bonus feature is modeled on one of Ellen's most popular segments. By choosing from an assortment of randomized buttons, players receive free credits and multipliers for choosing correctly.
When activated, players are given the chance to spin Ellen's Wheel of Riche$, good for free credits or even a potential progressive jackpot score.
Players who have plenty of experience on either version of IGT's Ellen branded slot machines consistently report big wins taking place during the Ellen's Wheel of Riche$ bonus round. During this side game, you use the touchscreen to spin a prize wheel, and the goal is to land on the prize boost areas. When you do, subsequent spins entitle you to a chance at the progressive jackpot, while all prize payouts are increased according to your current multiplier. A fortunate spin of the wheel can easily result in multipliers between 50x and 200x your credit wager, and most of the big wins to occur on these machines have resulted from Ellen's Wheel of Riche$ bonus.
Players partaking in The Ellen DeGeneres Show Featuring 12 Days of Giveaways machine will enjoy the Free Spins bonus feature, which flashes 12 gift boxes on screen. Depending on the luck of the draw, the gift box you choose will reward you with a multiplier ranging from 1x to 12x.
Fans of The Ellen DeGeneres Show Featuring Ellen's Dance Party, meanwhile, can expect a Free Spins bonus complete with a dancing Ellen avatar toe tapping across the screen. While Ellen dances away, she awards wild symbols as the reels behind her continue to spin away, increasing your chances at standard wins and big time payouts.
While these slot machine offerings are undoubtedly designed for loyal fans of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, players who may be unfamiliar with the talk show host can still enjoy IGT's dependably entertaining gameplay.
Sure, the experience is full of references to the television show, but even if you've never seen an episode yourself, learning the basic gameplay mechanics of these machines is a breeze. So whether you're a lifelong Ellen supporter, or simply a veteran slot player looking for something fresh and exciting, both The Ellen DeGeneres Show Featuring 12 Days of Giveaways and The Ellen DeGeneres Show Featuring Ellen's Dance Party should be a great fit.