Cha-Ching! How Slot Machines Bilk Fandom

Nick Peron
Comics Batman
Comics Batman Game of Thrones The Walking Dead DC

With the ever growing popularity of fandom, companies are always trying to find new ways to make money from the things we love. Usually, this is in the form of must-have collectibles, but let’s be honest here: sometimes it’s a blatant cash grab. This past week I made a trip down to Las Vegas and I saw probably the worst of the worst when it comes to exploiting fans: slot machines. I wasn’t really all that surprised by the idea that there would be officially licensed slot machines out there in the world. However, after thinking about it (and playing a few) It struck me as to just how sinister this all is. I decided to take a look at the different types of games that are out there. Needing a sidekick to help scour the endless rows of slots at various casinos, I enlisted the aid of fellow Fandom scribe (and Vegas resident) Bob Aquavia to help me along this journey.

Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Slots reviewed by Bob Aquavia

There are many notable franchises that have hit up Vegas for some additional cash. Aliens, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and of course the biggest T.V. show of all time, Game of Thrones.

Worst Offender: Lord of the Rings

... YOU SHALL NOT WIN!

If there’s one thing to rule them all, it’s not the One Ring but money. The Lord of The Rings machine follows the first movie and has tons of video clips, original soundtrack, and features to convince you that throwing pennies at orcs will save Frodo. Travel to Rivendell and through the Mines of Moria at 2 am with a classy cocktail in your hand, like Gandalf intended.

Comic Books

Slots reviewed by Nick Peron

For me, I think this has to be the most upsetting slot machines of the whole bunch. I get that comic books have a pretty huge age range, but let’s not forget they’re mostly seen as something for kids. While you need to be the legal age to play slots, the possibility of a kid seeing one of these slot machines and develop an interest in gambling is pretty sick if you ask me. These machines might as well be handing out free cigarettes while they’re at it.

The Worst Offender: Batman ’66

The superhero slots I saw most frequently were the ones based on the 1966 Batman. It’s a thinly veiled attempt at taking these iconic characters and gearing them towards the adult market. It plays to a sense of nostalgia for a certain age group. But let’s not forget that we’re talking about freaking Batman, one of the most recognizable characters owned by DC Comics.

Na na na na na na, Broke Man! Broke Man! Broke Man!

I suppose the most upsetting thing about the Batman game is if you lost you got shown clips of Burt Ward (as Robin) jump kicking at the camera. Unless getting a nest full of robin’s eggs in your face is your sort of thing, it doesn’t really entice me to keep on playing. Where’s are all the vivacious clips of Julie Newmar as Catwoman? I’d even settle for Yvonne Craig as Batgirl in a pinch. Where are they?

Oh...

That’s right, they have their own slot machine. Give it enough time you can probably play the official Commissioner Gordon/Chief O’Brien slot machine in the near future.

Then there’s the gameplay:

If you notice, this guy playing is certainly not making back his money and the only time he really wins anything substantial is when he hits the bonus round. That’s how these things work. Also, the fact that Adam West did a live unveiling when this game was first received should give you an idea of how sleazy this game is. What celebrity shows up for the unveiling of a slot machine?

I guess an appearance fee is an appearance fee.

Drama

Slots reviewed by Bob Aquavia

If you thought sci-fi and fantasy slots are bad, you can’t swing a five-foot pole without hitting a slot machine based on a popular drama. Sex And The City, 24, House of Cards, Orange is the New Black and tons more.

Worst Offender: Breaking Bad

More addictive than meth!

By a country mile, the most shocking one that I’ve seen so far is a slot machine based on Breaking Bad. Can you evade the law, Gus Fring, and Skylar’s suspicions with a lucky push of the button? Combining icons and video clips from arguably one of the greatest shows on television, it’s surreal to see it smack dab on a casino floor with all the bells and whistles.

Horror

Slots reviewed by Nick Peron

Horror movies seem like a pretty all right genre to be turned into a slot machine if you ask me. They’re meant for adults, so  I really don’t see any sort of ethical issues with these types of machines. There weren’t too many that I saw around. There was one based on Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, which intentionally and heavily focused on Elvira’s bust. I found a really old Alien slot machine hidden in the back of one casino with all the generic slots that use Native American or Egyptian symbolism.

The Worst Offender: Walking Dead II

Yes, they’ve made two Walking Dead slot machines and I had the displeasure of playing this game. Here’s a very deceptive video of the gameplay I found on YouTube:

I know what you’re thinking, “wow this game must pay out a ton!” well trust me it doesn’t. I don’t know if you noticed at all, but whoever put this video together did a lot of cuts, so we don’t actually know how much money they fed into the machine before it gave out all these wicked bonuses.

This literally uses every possible trick in the gambling machine playbook. Lots of flashy lights, colors, loud sounds that immerse you in the game. It’s also very, very deceptive. Often times you get stuck with a nonsensical mishmash of clocks and squirrels but eventually, you hit a wild card or something that appears to pay out. However, despite all the rushing sounds and bright lights usually, it pays out less than you bet in. That’s right, it makes a big deal that you lost a little bit of money, and makes it seem like you’ve won so you keep on playing.

Some models of this game even have a vibrating chair, which is intended to stimulate you to play more. My advice to you, my friend, never trust anything in Las Vegas that will gently milk your prostate.

Vintage 70s & 80s

Slots reviewed by Bob Aquavia

Various other franchises from the 70’s and 80’s, both movies and t.v., are now on display on the casino floors and ready for your money. You too can watch the rise of Sonny Corleone in The Godfather, explore Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, or fly with Maverick in Top Gun (shirtless volleyball not included).

Worst Offender: Ghostbusters

For me, far and away has to be Ghostbusters. It has enough nostalgia signals so that not even our childhoods are safe from the gambling machine. Voice acting from the original actors, Ray Parker Jr.’s theme, and special guest appearances from Slimer and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man round out this expensive trip down memory lane.

The part of your gambling addiction will be played by the Stay Puff Marshmellow Man.

I do mean expensive, watch these guys play this thing (warning: this video has some salty language):

Again, with the other videos, you don’t see how much money they’re dumping into this thing, but by the end of the video, for all their efforts the walked away with a measly seven dollars. From watching the video, you’d think these guys were winning a lot of free money. But you will not, and the games are designed to deceive you.

Really!? REALLY!?!

Slots reviewed by Nick Peron

The one thing that I learned from my time in Las Vegas is that they can turn anything into a slot machine. As long as they can get the rights to whatever it is, they’ll slap it on a machine. The idea is to create a slot machine that will appeal to even the most niche player.

Are you a fan of daytime talk shows? Well then how about you drop some bucks into the Ellen DeGeneris slot machine:

You really have to wonder the motivations of an international icon like Ellen would have for licensing out her likeness and show for a slot machine. I just can’t wrap my head around the idea of someone who is a huge humanitarian putting her name on a device that usually exploits people and addictions. That’s like Bill Gates selling heroin in dirty needles to homeless people.

How about sitcoms? Do you like sitcoms? Well, there are slot machines for that also.

It’s just like having friends who borrow money and never pay you back, but without the effort of making those friends. This slot machine is pretty new, which makes you wonder why did they choose Friends? Maybe Will Smith has too much of a conscience to license out a Fresh Prince game.

The Worst Offender: Big Bang Theory 

The worst of the worst of the bunch is the Big Bang Theory slot machine. Someone took the unfunny, self-entitled, garbage that is this putrid show and turn it into a brightly colored abomination of all that is holy. By this point in the article, Bob and I have pretty much covered all the bases of what is wrong with these machines. So to avoid sounding redundant let’s just say it’s as bad as all the rest.

If there’s is any solace I can take from the fact that this game exists it’s this: This machine will bilk money out of the type people who find this show entertaining and annoyingly imitate the petulant character traits of its cast. So for anyone who idolizes Sheldon and blew a few hundred bucks on this travesty, I think it is a well-deserved punishment.

BONUS ROUND: THE MOST HONEST SLOT MACHINE EVER

Of all the slot machines we saw that weekend, I have to admit that there was one among them all that was the most honest.

Yes, you too can have TMZ snap an unwanted photo of you for their own personal gain!

Yes, my friends, TMZ has its own slot machine. If there is any slot machine out there in Sin City that perfectly punctuates the slot machine experience, and does it so honestly, it’s this machine. To whomever designed this abomination: my hat is off to you.


Well, that wraps things up, for now, just remember folks: gambling is basically random probability. There’s no secrets, no tricks, and the odds are always working against you. So if you’re going to gamble, gamble responsibly.

Nick Peron
Stand-Up Comedian from Ottawa, Canada. Long time contributor at the Marvel Database Wiki. Banned in China.
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