GSA Standards - Free to the Industry
“Free” is considered one of the most powerful words in the English language. Whether it connotes “at no charge” or “boundless and limitless,” the word is applied correctly when we say that GSA standards are now free.
In an unprecedented industry announcement, GSA recently made the Best of Breed (BOB), System-to-System (S2S) and Gaming Device Standard (GDS) available free of charge to the entire industry. This means game, system and peripheral manufacturers, whether GSA members or non-members, can implement GSA standards in their equipment without license fees or cost constraints.
Developed by a collaboration of companies, the three GSA standards reflect a rich cross-pollination of ideas. The standards will continue to evolve as GSA members expand and enhance their functionality. And in that way, too, they are free. The industry, rather than a single company, will have control over the direction the standards take.
GSA standards have been at the forefront of industry change, and industry leaders have been taking an active role in their implementation for quite a while. Take BOB, for example. Published more than a year ago, BOB is mature and complete in its application messaging capabilities. BOB already incorporates remote configuration and video lottery, and download capabilities are in development. Across the industry, many vendors have attended the popular 2-day BOB “Under the Hood” training workshops and used the BOB toolkits. Gaming Laboratories International (GLI) and BMM Test Labs are using the GSA toolkits as a basis to develop standards certification tools, which will free operators from the time-consuming task of testing interoperability between equipment.
Recently, a coalition of game manufacturer CTOs has decided to pool resources to develop BOB interface code that can be used in a variety of gaming manufacturers’ equipment. This effort is being undertaken by the top technical people in the industry, and it promises to yield BOB-based games in time for G2E this fall.
GDS and S2S are seeing activity as well. The GDS toolkit has recently completed development and is now available to GSA members and non-members. Funded by a group of worldwide peripheral manufacturers, the toolkit allows vendors to test devices for compliance with GDS for all jurisdictions worldwide, which will ultimately speed time to market and allow for plug-and-play compatibility between games and their peripherals.
S2S is on a similar, limitless path. Currently being used successfully in several casinos, S2S has been proven to work across a variety of gaming and property systems. Bally Systems adopted S2S in its Casino Marketplace, and IGT and Rocket Gaming have both successfully implemented S2S.
At the Gaming Technology Summit in May, Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG) and a group of gaming industry chief information officers announced a Special Interest Group (SIG) that will focus on interoperability between hotel and gaming systems. The SIG will leverage the experience of the hotel industry to focus on the unique issues and opportunities of the gaming industry, such as player tracking, comping and regulatory compliance.
Heightened interest in GSA standards and the level of activity surrounding their adoption indicate the promise of plug and play is truly within reach. For manufacturers, that means a reduction in engineering costs required to support multiple proprietary protocols and quicker time to market for their products. For slot managers, plug and play represents seamless integration of games and systems and increased ways to enhance the patron experience.
As GSA standards move toward widespread adoption, GSA members will continue to derive value for membership. The coming months and years will see the standards evolve to include greater functionality. The 65+ members of GSA will have access to the draft standards in order to guide their enhancement and expansion for the future.
The decision to make GSA standards openly available frees up the industry to develop innovative gaming and system solutions. The future direction of the standards is in the hands of a wide cross-section of manufacturers, suppliers and operators, which sets the industry on an exciting and unbounded course. And that’s a winning jackpot for all of us.
As you can see, GSA has been hard at work on standards and promoting the industry. If you’re interested in becoming a part of the excitement, please visit our website at www.gamingstandards.com.
Lyle Bell, Chairman, Gaming Standards Association