New Millennium Games’ Michael Wiltshire
Northern Nevada Business Weekly: Tell us about New Millennium Games.
Wiltshire: We are a small company with three shareholders — two of the original inventors and a lawyer to keep us out of trouble. We have three issued patents for networked server-based gaming. Our technology has been implemented in gaming on consoles, smart TVs, PCs, smartphones, tablets and slot machines. Our solution enables the same games to be played across all of them. We have patent licensing agreements with companies such as WMS, Bally Technologies and Tipping Point Gaming.
NNBW: How did you get into this profession?
Wiltshire: My family opened Famous Murphy’s Restaurant Grill & Oyster Bar restaurant in 1987. We soon realized it was more than just flipping hamburgers; there’s a lot of number crunching involved. We needed to find an effective point of sales (POS) system with the flexibility to allow us to optimize the results for our use. My brother, Tim, and I did a lot of research on POS systems. We were searching for one that worked more efficiently, from cutting the number of times orders were inputted to the wait time for our guests and home deliveries. During that pursuit, we were introduced to networked server-based computing.
We asked ourselves ‘What other areas could use this?’
We stumbled on the idea of incorporating it into slot machines. When we demonstrated it to several gaming executives from IGT, Sierra Design Group, Aristocrat and Alliance/Bally that frequented the restaurant, there was a lot of interest. To protect our ideas we patented the technology for regulated and Internet gaming.
NNBW: What important thing have you learned in your career that makes you successfully run your company?
Wiltshire: It takes persistence to gain relationships with key decision makers. It takes a lot of time and money to gain acceptance and validation. We applied for our first patent in 1998 and executed our first license agreement in 2005.
While we were able to predict a lot of the markets that developed for our technology, we underestimated the timeframe for it to be implemented and how huge those markets would be. We anticipated cloud gaming and described its implementation with a priority date that predates current business efforts in the field. Social and casino gaming are converging. The number of devices that use our technology has exploded.
NNBW: What challenges have you faced with the company?
Wiltshire: Regulation presents a steep barrier to entry for small gaming entities in every jurisdiction, is expensive and can take from two to five years for approval.
We have spent a lot of time and money licensing and protecting our patents. Now we have to enforce them. We have a law firm that is willing to represent us on a contingency basis in the process of dealing with patent infringements, but still have to raise money for expert witnesses, filing fees, patent maintenance fees, and associated hard costs.
NNBW: Have any advice for someone wanting to get into the profession?
Wiltshire: Social and mobile gaming continues to grow. They need to get experience writing games, developing intellectual property and do research to see if someone else is developing the same idea.
NNBW: What was your first job?
Wiltshire: I peeled potatoes at my dad’s restaurant. It was a good job for me, because you can’t break a potato. I was seven.
NNBW: You have spent much of your career in hospitality? What other positions have you held?
Wiltshire: I’ve always had an affinity for hospitality and gaming. I’ve worked as a games dealer at Harrah’s, Tahoe. I’ve also worked in the food and beverage department for the Peppermill as well as the Grand Sierra and the Siena. I operated Famous Murphys for 21 years.
I served in Vietnam as a fire control technician with the U.S. Navy and worked at Fairchild Semiconductor while I was in college.
NNBW: How do you spend your time away from work?
Wiltshire: I’m a pretty boring guy. I’d like to spend more time with my three children, who are all attorneys and their children.
Shawna is an associate at Wilson Elser in Denver after graduating with B.A. from UNR, a M.A. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Denver University and a JD from Sturm College, Denver University. Lisa is an associate at McDonald Carano Wilson after graduating with a B.A. from Pepperdine University and a JD from Cal Western School of Law. Brian earned his B.S. and MBA from UNR, his JD from McGeorge School of Law and is an intern in the Second Judicial Court in Reno.
NNBW: If you had enough money to retire right now, would you? Why or why not?
Wiltshire: The task isn’t done with New Millennium Games. I’m also working with a business incubator called C4Cube on a project that will help people and businesses in Midtown Reno.
NNBW: If you could live your life over again, what’s one thing you would change that impacted your career/life?
Wiltshire: I would have bought shares of stock in Apple in 1978. Back then in the Bay Area, there were so many start ups, I just wished I would have clicked on the ones that were successful.
NNBW: Why did you choose a career in Northern Nevada? What do you like about living/working here?
Wiltshire: I was working for the Peppermill in California and they transferred me to Reno. There are so many great opportunities for people to play and work here. It’s a great place to live.
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