WMS Industries, sometimes called WMS Gaming, is a gaming company based out of North America. Its headquarters is located in Las Vegas, Nevada and its development facilities are located in Chicago, Illinois. The company was founded by Harry E. Williams on 1943 and went by the name of Williams Manufacturing Company. The first electronic games that were produced by the company were two pinball machines, a fortune-telling booth,, and two other games. The pinball machines were the most popular out of the bunch and they were made by taking parts from older models since finding new materials was difficult during World War II.
After the war was over WMS Gaming's owner was able to have access to lower cost materials and expand the company. Williams was the inventor of the tilt function and the inward facing bottom flippers that are commonly found on most pinball machines today. It was an easy way to differentiate his games from the competition before the function became more wide spread. In the 1950s and 1960's the company was mainly focused on making on pinball machines, with only a few exceptions. These machines were all fairly similar with the theme of the game setting them apart more than anything else. Williams made sure that the different themes could be removed easily and replaced with something new if it fell out of style. The most popular theme to date was modeled after the Beatles.
In the late 1960s the WMS Company designed switched its focus towards other games such as Skill Pool which sold 2,250 units and 3 Coin which sold over 1,000 units. WMS was purchased by the Seeburg Corporation who pushed the production of more themed pinball machines. Williams responded with numerous games over the next decade. Sales skyrocketed and it was common to see two or more pinball machines made from by the WMS Company in any arcade across North America. After the 'golden-age' of pinball machines ended, Williams created went on to prove to the Seeburg Corporation that he and his company could do more than make pinball machines. Several arcade classics followed. In 1980 the WMS Company was sold to Louis Nicastro but it would continue to maintain a good hold on the arcade-gaming market until at-home consoles became more popular and less expensive.
Seeing that less and less people were going to arcades Williams began to work on slot machines, which hasn't been affected nearly has much by at-home consoles. Unlike other slot machines that had limited icons, WMS slot machines added colorful themes. Reel ‘em In was Williams' first video slot machine hit and is still very popular today. It is a multi-line slot machine which also has a secondary bonus of multiple coins. It had very limited 3d effects which were still a stretch at the time. Handfuls of other slot machines followed, all of them colorful, with some of them using the themes that the WMS Company has used in previous arcade games. Slot machines became WMS's new focus and their brand only became more popular as more casinos were established. The company's pinball division finally closed in 1999.
During the 2000s WMS added additional movie themes to their slots and implemented "participation" slot machines which were only on lease to the casinos who wanted to use them. Having games that had recognizable themes combined with the fee of leasing multiple units made WMS a very profitable company. From 2006 to 2011 its revenue skyrocketed from $451 million to a staggering $783 million. In 2013 WMS and Scientific Games merged. WMS still produces a few slot machines, but has been releasing more casino games that can be played online or on smartphones.
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