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Publication numberUS20020050683 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 09/898,466
Publication dateMay 2, 2002
Filing dateJul 5, 2001
Priority dateJul 7, 2000
Publication number09898466, 898466, US 2002/0050683 A1, US 2002/050683 A1, US 20020050683 A1, US 20020050683A1, US 2002050683 A1, US 2002050683A1, US-A1-20020050683, US-A1-2002050683, US2002/0050683A1, US2002/050683A1, US20020050683 A1, US20020050683A1, US2002050683 A1, US2002050683A1
InventorsTakeshi Hirota
Original AssigneeTakeshi Hirota
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Network pachinko system, method for playing network pachinko, recording medium recorded program for executing network pachinko, and apparatus used in implementing network pachinko
US 20020050683 A1
Abstract
The present invention provides a pachinko system for playing a virtual pachinko game via a network. A player may obtain a pachinko game program in the form of a CD-ROM or by downloading the same program via a network. When a player activates the pachinko game program on their terminal, the player terminal is automatically linked to the network and starts communicating with a pachinko hall server. The information on the player is registered in the pachinko hall server. A virtual map representing information on each location of pachinko halls and information on unoccupied seats in each pachinko hall is displayed. The player may select one favorite pachinko hall and one preferred pachinko machine. Once the player selects one pachinko machine, an image of the machine is displayed on the screen. When the player starts playing, the player may control the game as with an actual pachinko machine.
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Claims(15)
What is claimed is:
1. A network pachinko system for playing a network pachinko being a virtual pachinko game via a network, said network pachinko comprising:
a player terminal operated by a pachinko player; and
a pachinko hall server communicatably connected with said player terminal to provide an information on said network pachinko of a pachinko hall,
wherein said pachinko hall server includes;
player verification means for verifying said pachinko player,
pachinko hall information service means for providing an information on said pachinko hall and/or an information on pachinko machines of said pachinko hall upon request of said player, and
pachinko machine determination means for determining a pachinko machine upon request of said player, and
said player terminal includes;
pachinko hall designation means for selectably designating the pachinko hall,
pachinko machine designation means for selectably designating the pachinko machine,
pachinko machine operating characteristic setting means for setting an operating characteristic of said designated pachinko machine, and
game status display means for displaying the status of pachinko game played by said player using said designated pachinko machine.
2. A pachinko network system as defined in claim 1, wherein said game status display means includes means for displaying said designated pachinko machine on a screen of said player terminal, for launching pachinko balls onto a playing field of said displayed pachinko machine upon request of said player, and for displaying the state of said launched pachinko balls on said screen of said player terminal.
3. A pachinko network system as defined in claim 1, wherein said pachinko hall server is provided in each of networked pachinko halls on the network.
4. A pachinko network system as defined in claim 1, wherein a program for executing said pachinko game is installed on said player terminal via a recording medium or the network.
5. A pachinko network system as defined in claim 1, wherein said player terminal further includes premise status notification means for notifying the playing status of another pachinko players to said player at any given time when said player playing said pachinko game at said designated pachinko machine.
6. A pachinko network system as defined in claim 1, wherein said pachinko machine operating characteristic setting means is arranged to control a launching speed of pachinko balls as needed.
7. A pachinko network system as defined in claim 1, wherein said pachinko hall server further include ball control means for controlling prize balls in any pachinko machines of the pachinko hall associated with said pachinko hall server.
8. A pachinko network system as defined in claim 7, wherein said prize ball control means includes characteristic change means for changing a winning characteristic of prize balls in said pachinko machines of said pachinko hall.
9. A pachinko network system as defined in claim 7, wherein said prize ball control means and said pachinko machines are arranged to periodically transmit an information therebetween, wherein said information is encoded with appropriately changeable codes.
10. A pachinko network system as defined in claim 1, wherein said player terminal further includes additional charge means for additionally obtaining pachinko balls and charging them into said designated pachinko machine during playing said pachinko game.
11. A network pachinko gaming method for playing a network pachinko being a virtual pachinko game via network, said method comprising the steps of:
communicatably connecting a player terminal operated by a pachinko player with a pachinko hall server providing an information on said network pachinko of a pachinko hall;
verifying whether the player qualifies for playing said network pachinko;
providing an information on said pachinko hall and/or an information on pachinko machines of said pachinko hall upon request of said qualified player;
determining a pachinko machine upon request of said player;
setting an operating characteristic of said determined pachinko machine upon request of said player;
virtually charging a given number of pachinko balls into said determined pachinko machine upon request of said player;
displaying said determined pachinko machine on a screen of said player terminal;
launching the pachinko balls onto a playing field of said displayed pachinko machine upon request of said player; and
displaying the status of said launched pachinko balls on said screen of said player terminal.
12. A method as defined in claim 11, which further includes the step of notifying said player the status of remaining balls in said pachinko machine being used by said player.
13. A method as defined in claim 12, wherein the status of remaining balls is notified by displaying said status on said screen of said player terminal.
14. A recording medium having a program recorded thereon for executing a network pachinko gaming method for playing a network pachinko being a virtual pachinko game via network, said method comprising the steps of:
communicatably connecting a player terminal operated by a pachinko player with a pachinko hall server providing an information on said network pachinko of a pachinko hall;
verifying whether the player qualifies for playing said network pachinko;
providing an information on said pachinko hall and/or an information on pachinko machines of said pachinko hall upon request of said qualified player;
determining a pachinko machine upon request of said player;
setting an operating characteristic of said determined pachinko machine upon request of said player;
virtually charging a given number of pachinko balls into said determined pachinko machine upon request of said player;
displaying said pachinko machine on a screen of said player terminal;
launching the pachinko balls onto a playing field of said displayed pachinko machine upon request of said player; and
displaying the status of said launched pachinko balls on said screen of said player terminal.
15. A pachinko hall server for use in implementing a network pachinko gaming method for playing a network pachinko being a virtual pachinko game via network, said method comprising the steps of:
communicatably connecting a player terminal operated by a pachinko player with a pachinko hall server providing an information on said network pachinko of a pachinko hall;
verifying whether the player qualifies for playing said network pachinko;
providing an information on said pachinko hall and/or an information on pachinko machines of said pachinko hall upon request of said qualified player;
determining a pachinko machine upon request of said player;
setting an operating characteristic of said determined pachinko machine upon request of said player;
virtually charging a given number of pachinko balls into said determined pachinko machine upon request of said player;
displaying said pachinko machine on a screen of said player terminal;
launching the pachinko balls onto a playing field of said displayed pachinko machine upon request of said player; and
displaying the status of said launched pachinko balls on said screen of said player terminal.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] The present invention relates to a system and method for enabling pachinko players to play a virtual pachinko game via a network.

[0003] 2. Discussion of the Related Art

[0004] Recently, computerizing a pachinko game (Japanese pinball) has made extensive improvement in functionality of pachinko game machines. This provides diversifying pachinko game machines with various plots. The number of pachinko players is hereby apt to increase.

[0005] However, conventional pachinko systems essentially work out on condition that pachinko players turn out to a pachinko hall to play the pachinko game. Specifically, in order to play the pachinko game, a pachinko player goes to a pachinko hall, and obtains pachinko balls, followed by determining one pachinko machine to be played thereat and taking a seat of the machine, whereafter the player may enjoy the game by operating the determined pachinko machine. In this case, the player typically looks over various pachinko machines in the pachinko hall to selectively determine one favorite machine. However, if the favorite machine is occupied by another plater, the player has to wait until the favorite machine becomes vacant or has to play at another pachinko machine. Thus, the player has often required spending additional time other than that for actually playing the pachinko game. In addition, as long as playing pachinko, the player cannot leave his/her seat and has to stay in the pachinko hall. This can cause various problems because player's child or pet is left outside the pachinko hall for a long time.

[0006] On the other hand, the conventional pachinko systems include a difficult problem for pachinko hall managements. For example, if the pachinko hall management intends to open a new large pachinko hall, the required land costs a lot of money. It is also necessary to make adjustments with near neighbors on problems, such as change in the environment to be caused by comings and goings of people in connection with opening the pachinko hall. Thus, the conventional systems in which the pachinko game is played within the pachinko hall involve the above disadvantages both for pachinko players and pachinko hall managements.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] In view of the above circumstances, it is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a pachinko system capable of solving the above disadvantages both for pachinko players and pachinko hall managements.

[0008] Specifically, it is an object of the present invention to provide a pachinko system capable of desirably lightening local and temporal burdens imposed on pachinko players in playing pachinko game.

[0009] It is another object of the present invention to provide a pachinko system capable of desirably solving problems of cost and others arising from business expansion for pachinko hall managements.

[0010] In order to achieve the above objects, according to one aspect of the present invention, there is provided a network pachinko system for playing a network pachinko being a virtual pachinko game via a network, the network pachinko comprising a player terminal operated by a pachinko player, and a pachinko hall server communicatably connected with the player terminal to provide an information on the network pachinko of a pachinko hall, wherein the pachinko hall server includes player verification means for verifying the pachinko player, pachinko hall information service means for providing an information on the pachinko hall and/or an information on pachinko machines of the pachinko hall upon request of the player, and pachinko machine determination means for determining a pachinko machine upon request of the player, and the player terminal includes pachinko hall designation means for selectably designating the pachinko hall, pachinko machine designation means for selectably designating the pachinko machine, pachinko machine operating characteristic setting means for setting an operating characteristic of the designated pachinko machine, and game status display means for displaying the status of pachinko game played by the player using the designated pachinko machine.

[0011] In one preferred embodiment, the game status display means may include means for displaying the designated pachinko machine on a screen of the player terminal, for launching pachinko balls onto a playing field of the displayed pachinko machine upon request of the player, and for displaying the state of the launched pachinko balls on the screen of the player terminal. In this case, the pachinko hall server may be provided in each of networked pachinko halls on the network.

[0012] In another preferred embodiment, a program for executing the pachinko game may be installed on the player terminal via a recording medium or the network.

[0013] Preferably, the player terminal may further include premise status notification means for notifying the playing status of another pachinko players to the player at any given time when the player is playing the pachinko game at the designated pachinko machine.

[0014] In still another preferred embodiment, the pachinko machine operating characteristic setting means may be arranged to control a launching speed of pachinko balls as needed.

[0015] Preferably, the pachinko hall server may further include prize ball control means for controlling prize balls in any pachinko machines of the pachinko hall associated with the pachinko hall server. More preferably, the prize ball control means may include characteristic change means for changing a winning characteristic of prize balls in the pachinko machines of the pachinko hall. In this case, the prize ball control means and the pachinko machines may be arranged to periodically transmit an information therebetween, wherein the information is encoded with appropriately changeable codes.

[0016] In yet another preferred embodiment of the pachinko game system of the present invention, the player terminal may further include additional charge means for additionally obtaining pachinko balls and charging them into the designated pachinko machine during playing the pachinko game.

[0017] According to another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a network pachinko gaming method for playing a network pachinko being a virtual pachinko game via network, the method comprising the steps of communicatably connecting a player terminal operated by a pachinko player with a pachinko hall server providing an information on the network pachinko of a pachinko hall, verifying whether the player qualifies for playing the network pachinko, providing an information on the pachinko hall and/or an information on pachinko machines of the pachinko hall upon request of the qualified player, determining a pachinko machine upon request of the player, setting an operating characteristic of the determined pachinko machine upon request of the player, virtually charging a given number of pachinko balls into the determined pachinko machine upon request of the player, displaying the determined pachinko machine on a screen of the player terminal, launching the pachinko balls onto a playing field of the displayed pachinko machine upon request of the player, and displaying the status of the launched pachinko balls on the screen of the player terminal.

[0018] In one preferred embodiment, this method may further include the step of notifying the player the status of remaining balls in the pachinko machine being used by the player. More preferably, the status of remaining balls is notified by displaying the status on the screen of the player terminal.

[0019] According to still another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a recording medium having a program recorded thereon for executing a network pachinko gaming method for playing a network pachinko being a virtual pachinko game via network, the method comprising the steps of communicatably connecting a player terminal operated by a pachinko player with a pachinko hall server providing an information on the network pachinko of a pachinko hall, verifying whether the player qualifies for playing the network pachinko, providing an information on the pachinko hall and/or an information on pachinko machines of the pachinko hall upon request of the qualified player, determining a pachinko machine upon request of the player, setting an operating characteristic of the determined pachinko machine upon request of the player, virtually charging a given number of pachinko balls into the determined pachinko machine upon request of the player, displaying the determined pachinko machine on a screen of the player terminal, launching the pachinko balls onto a playing field of the displayed pachinko machine upon request of the player, and displaying the status of the launched pachinko balls on the screen of the player terminal.

[0020] According to yet another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a pachinko hall server for use in implementing a network pachinko gaming method for playing a network pachinko being a virtual pachinko game via network, the method comprising the steps of communicatably connecting a player terminal operated by a pachinko player with a pachinko hall server providing an information on the network pachinko of a pachinko hall, verifying whether the player qualifies for playing the network pachinko, providing an information on the pachinko hall and/or an information on pachinko machines of the pachinko hall upon request of the qualified player, determining a pachinko machine upon request of the player, setting an operating characteristic of the determined pachinko machine upon request of the player, virtually charging a given number of pachinko balls into the determined pachinko machine upon request of the player, displaying the determined pachinko machine on a screen of the player terminal, launching the pachinko balls onto a playing field of the displayed pachinko machine upon request of the player, and displaying the status of the launched pachinko balls on the screen of the player terminal.

[0021] As described above, the present invention may provide the network pachinko system, the network pachinko gaming method, the recording medium having the program recorded thereon for executing a network pachinko gaming method for playing the network pachinko, and the apparatus for use in implementing the network pachinko gaming method for playing the network pachinko. In addition, the present invention may include a file for use in implementing the network pachinko gaming method, various program associated with the file, a carrier for use in executing the program, an associated program product and any other derivations.

[0022] According to the present invention, pachinko players may enjoy the pachinko game using a screen of his/her terminal at home and at any time, with the feeling of actually playing the pachinko game at a pachinko hall.

[0023] Other features and advantages of the present invention will be apparent from the accompanying drawings and from the detailed description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0024]FIG. 1 is a block diagram showing the top level of the hierarchy in a virtual pachinko system implementing on network;

[0025]FIG. 2 is a block diagram of a pachinko hall server used in the system of FIG. 1;

[0026]FIG. 3 is a block diagram of a player terminal used in the system of FIG. 1;

[0027]FIG. 4 is a flow chart showing one example of an operation of a network pachinko game according to the present invention;

[0028]FIG. 5 is a view showing an image of a pachinko hole map displayed on a screen of a player terminal;

[0029]FIG. 6 is a view showing an image of pachinko machine rows displayed on a screen of a player terminal;

[0030]FIG. 7 is a graph showing a prize ball status displayed on a screen of a player terminal;

[0031]FIG. 8 is a view showing a detailed image of a pachinko machine displayed on a screen of a player terminal;

[0032]FIG. 9 is an explanatory view showing communication between a pachinko hall server and a player terminal; and

[0033]FIG. 10 is an explanatory view showing one example of a prize exchanging system in a network pachinko system.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0034] With reference to the drawings, embodiments of the present invention will now be described.

[0035] Referring to FIG. 1, a network 2 capable of realizing a network pachinko system 1 according to one embodiment of the present invention is illustrated. In a typical embodiment of the present invention as shown in FIG. 1, a plurality of computers are communicatably connected with each other via the network 2. A network pachinko game according to the present invention is implemented as appropriately transmitting an information between various kinds of player terminals 3, 4, 5 and 6 and pachinko hall servers 7, 8 and 9, which are networked each other. For this purpose, any number of the player terminals 3, 4, 5 and 6 and pachinko hall servers 7, 8 and 9 may be linked to the network, and each of the pachinko hall servers 7, 8 and 9 and player terminals 3, 4, 5 and 6 may be connected to transmit the information bilaterally and selectablly therebetween. In the example of FIG. 1, four computer terminals 3, 4, 5 and 6 are connected with three host computers 7, 8 and 9 via the network. Three of the four computers are shown as desktop type computers 3, 4 and 5, and other one is shown as a notebook type computer 6. In the present invention, each of the four computers 3, 4, 5 and 6 corresponds to a pachinko user terminal or a player terminal, and each of the three terminals 7, 8 and 9 corresponds to a pachinko hall server. However, it is apparent that all of the pachinko hall servers in the network pachinko system 1 may be integrated as a single host computer capable of functioning for the entire pachinko halls.

[0036] A fundamental feature of the present invention is to enable pachinko players to enjoy a pachinko game using a screen of the player terminal at home or any other place, with the feeling of actually playing the pachinko game at a pachinko hall. In the present invention, for the purpose of this object, the aforementioned pachinko hall server 7 (hereinafter, describing for one of the pachinko hall servers) mainly has functions in the pachinko hall to provide certain information on the pachinko hall to the player terminal 3 (hereinafter, describing for one of the player terminals) via the network 2. The player terminal has functions for operating mainly according to commands of a user end or network pachinko player and for communicating with the pachinko hole server 7 via the network 2 to request providing necessary information, functions or operations to the pachinko hall server. Thus, differently from playing a pachinko game at a pachinko hall according to the conventional way, in the network pachinko system 1 according to the present invention, while the pachinko hall server 7 provides the information on the pachinko hall and pachinko machines to the player terminal 3, the player plays the pachinko game not on the pachinko hall server 7 but on the player terminal.

[0037] Thus, in specifically implementing the present invention, it is critical how to share required functions between the pachinko hall server 7 and the player terminal 3. In a specific embodiment, the sharing depends on the hardware of the network pachinko system 1, particularly on a channel capacity and communication speed between the pachinko hall server 7 and the player terminal 3.

[0038] Pachinko Hall Server

[0039] In the network pachinko system 1, the pachinko hall server 7 is involved with one or more pachinko halls. As shown in FIG. 2, various data of player and halls are managed by the pachinko hall server. The pachinko hall server 7 manages the data of one or plurality of pachinko halls and players. These data may be updated by communicating with the player terminal 3 and other pachinko hall servers 8 and 9 all the time. The pachinko hall server 7 includes a database 10 storing comprehensive information on the pachinko hall, such as the number of pachinko machines, pachinko machine layout, or pachinko machine design. This pachinko hall database 10 also stores an information on characteristics of each pachinko machine, such as arrangement of pegs, setting data of probability of winning prize balls, or actual data of won prize balls, in each pachinko machine. The pachinko hall server 7 also includes a customer database 11 storing an information on customers or players. This customer database 11 stores at least part of address, name, ID, the number of owned pachinko balls or gained prize balls, favorite pachinko machines or others, of each player. The pachinko hall server 7 further includes a database 12 of prizes with which prize balls gained by players may be exchanged. This prize database 12 stores a prize list (numerical quantity, contents or the like). When bonus points are given instead of the prizes, the bonus point information including bonus points for each customer may be stored in the prize database 12.

[0040] Further, the pachinko hall server 7 includes a pachinko game program file 13 storing a pachinko game program for executing the steps in which a player looks over pachinko machines in a pachinko hall, followed by obtaining pachinko balls and determining one favorite pachinko machine to play the pachinko game. The pachinko hall server 7 also includes a database search program file 14 storing a database search program for executing the processing of referring to a required database to provide necessary information to the player terminal and display the information on a screen of the player terminal, according to given steps as needed.

[0041] In addition, the pachinko hall server 7 includes a prize exchange program file 15 storing a prize exchange program for executing the processing of exchanging prize balls gained by players with prizes or giving bonus points in proportion to the number of the prize balls.

[0042] The pachinko hall server 7 according to the present invention also includes a encode format file 16 for encoding related information to be transmitted.

[0043] Player Terminal

[0044] As shown in FIG. 3, the player terminal 3 includes an image display control program file 18 storing an image display program for displaying a given image on the screen of the player terminal according to the information provided from the pachinko hall server 7 or according to operations of the player terminal through a user interface 17 by a player.

[0045] When one network pachinko hall or pachinko hall server is specified by the player's operation, an information on the specified pachinko hall is provided from the pachinko hall server to the player terminal, and the provided information is displayed on the screen of the player terminal. The information displayed on the screen of the player terminal includes various information, such as on pachinko machines of the pachinko hall, the status of occupied pachinko machines, pachinko machine characteristics or the like. The player may obtain the information on pachinko machine characteristics and won prize balls of each pachinko machine of the pachinko hall by operating the user interface 17 of the player terminal, and determines either one of the pachinko machines of the pachinko hall based on such information. Then, the player transmits to the pachinko hall server 7 a request for obtaining pachinko balls and displaying the specified pachinko machine on the screen of the player terminal, followed by communicating with the pachinko hall server by operating the user interface 17 of the player terminal 3. The player terminal includes a pachinko hall server communication program file 19 storing a program for executing the processing of transmitting or receiving given information by communicating with the pachinko hall server 7. The player may charge the obtained pachinko balls into the specified pachinko machine, and launches the pachinko balls onto a playing field of the pachinko machine. The launching speed of the pachinko balls may be selectably changed according to player's taste. The player terminal also includes a game program file 20 storing a game program for executing the processing of the above player's operations in conjunction with the pachinko game.

[0046] This game program may execute the processing of additionally displaying the status of another pachinko machines on the screen of the player terminal when the player is playing th pachinko game. Further, the player terminal 3 includes an encode format file 21 as with the pachinko hall server 7. Operation The steps actually performed by a user or a pachinko player will now be described with reference to FIG. 4.

[0047] When a pachinko player intends to enjoy the pachinko game by use of the pachinko system according to the present invention, it is necessary to obtain the pachinko game program of the pachinko game according to the present invention and to install a part or overall of pachinko game program on his/her terminal. The pachinko game program may be obtained in the form of a CD-ROM recorded the pachinko game program in advance thereon or may be obtained by downloading the same program via network as needed. When downloading the network pachinko program via network, the program may be encoded by use of the encode format as shown in FIG. 3 in order to assure confidentiality, and a key for decoding the downloaded program may be separately offered to the player with a certain charge.

[0048] The encoding may be use in selecting one pachinko machine of the pachinko hall, obtaining pachinko balls, starting the pachinko game, transmitting a request for launching pachinko balls, finishing the pachinko game, requesting for exchanging prize balls, and transmitting an information from the player terminal to the pachinko hall server. In particular, personal information required for verification or the like is desirably encoded when such information is transmitted. In the operation, when a player activates the pachinko game program on his/her terminal as shown in FIG. 4, the player terminal is automatically linked to the network, and starts communicating with the pachinko hall server 7 prepared on the pachinko system (steps S1 and S2).

[0049] In an initial access to the pachinko hall server 7, a prompt for registering various personal information, such as name, age, birth date, or sexuality, and an accounting form, such as credit card number, debit card number, ID or password, is displayed on the screen (step S3).

[0050] When a person intending to register as a player inputs such information, the input information is transmitted to the pachinko hall server. Then, if certificated, this payer's information is registered in the pachinko hall server (step S4). Then, the image on the screen of the player terminal is changed to a next image.

[0051] When the player who has registered according to the above steps subsequently connects with either one of pachinko halls forming the network pachinko system of the present invention, a prompt for inputting only the ID and password is displayed on the screen (step S5), and if this input information corresponds to the registered contents, the player may proceed on to a next image.

[0052] If the input ID or password does not correspond to the registered information, the player is regarded as an unregistered player, and the registration procedure is performed in the same steps as those in the initial access.

[0053] After completing the initial registration or verifying the registered fact, an image for selecting a pachinko hall is displayed on the screen as shown in FIG. 5. In the example of FIG. 5, a virtual map representing an information on each location of pachinko halls and an information on unoccupied seats in each pachinko hall is displayed. The player may select one favorite pachinko hall by clicking a position corresponding to the favorite pachinko hall on the virtual map (step S6).

[0054] In this moment, if the player desires to play in one pachinko hall covered by the pachinko hall server presently connected with his/her terminal, the player may proceed on to a next step for selecting a pachinko machine. However, if desiring another pachinko hall other than that covered by the present pachinko hall server, the player may display an image for selectably changing to another pachinko hall server. Then, the player may select another pachinko hall by inputting a request for selecting a desired pachinko hall server from his/her player terminal. In this case, since the registration procedure and the player verification procedure have been completed, it is unnecessary to repeat such procedures.

[0055] As shown in FIG. 6, once the player selects one pachinko hall, the pachinko hall server transmits various detailed data, such as kinds of pachinko machines located in the pachinko hall, the number of won prize balls for each pachinko machine of the playing day, layout of the pachinko machines located in the pachinko hall, and selectable pachinko machines, to the player terminal, and such information may also be displayed on the screen of the player terminal as needed.

[0056] In each pachinko hall, various kinds of pachinko machines with different plots or characteristics are placed. Detailed information on each pachinko machine, such as the number of each kind of pachinko machines in each pachinko hall, or the playable number of each kind of the pachinko machines, is disclosed for the player to determine the aforementioned pachinko hall. The player may select one desired pachinko hall based on this information and others. In the example of FIG. 6, each pachinko machine has an individual machine number, and occupied pachinko machines and unoccupied pachinko machines are distinguished by using different colors. The player may move a cursor to a position of a favorite pachinko machine on the screen, and may select the favorite pachinko machine by clicking the position. The favorite pachinko machine may otherwise be selected by inputting its machine number.

[0057] The pachinko machines located in the pachinko hall have different settings in the direction of each peg, probability of winning prize balls or the like, respectively, even in the same kind of pachinko machines. Thus, depending on a selected pachinko machine, the condition of prize balls to be gained will be subtly different. The setting of such a characteristic of prize balls is selectively changeable by the pachinko hall server. For example, it may be changed by a given days or hours.

[0058] As shown in FIG. 7, a data of won prize balls for each pachinko machine of the playing day is disclosed by a graph or the like. The player may select one pachinko machine based on this information and others.

[0059] As described above, the data of each pachinko machine may also be displayed. Thus, the player selects one preferred pachinko machine with reference to this data (step S7).

[0060] Once the player selects one pachinko machine, a characteristic data of the selected pachinko machine (a specific characteristic data peculiarly applied to the pachinko machine, such as pachinko machine design, peg arrangement or type or mechanism of big winning of prize balls, and a variable characteristic data, such as setting of peg direction or setting of probability of winning prize balls) is transmitted from the pachinko hall server to the player terminal. The data in the game program is combined with the data transmitted from the pachinko hall server on the player terminal to allow the pachinko game to be played at the pachinko machine having a specification according to such data.

[0061] On the pachinko hall server, the selected pachinko machine is defined as “occupied”. Thus, other players cannot select the selected pachinko machine as long as the player plays the pachinko game.

[0062] As shown in FIG. 8, once the player selects a specific pachinko machine, an image of the selected pachinko machine is displayed on the screen of the player terminal. On this screen, each status of the number of remaining pachinko balls, current time, play period of time, launching strength or speed of pachinko balls, gained prize balls and others, are displayed.

[0063] The player obtains pachinko balls prior to playing the pachinko game as needed (step S8). The pachinko balls may otherwise be obtained prior to selecting a pachinko machine. Once the player inputs the money amount for obtaining desired pachinko balls, this data is transmitted to the pachinko hall server, and it is checked on the pachinko hall server whether the player may pay the input money amount according to the accounting form selected at the registration step by the player. The player may also obtain the pachinko balls by means of credit card, debit card, prepaid card such as web money or the like.

[0064] When it is verified that the player may pay for the pachinko balls to be obtained, the money amount is recorded on the player database of the pachinko hall server. Then, pachinko balls of the number corresponding to the verified money amount may be used on the player terminal.

[0065] If it is judged that the player has no capacity to pay due to some reason, such notice is displayed on the screen of the player terminal, and a prompt for inputting another preferred money amount again is also displayed.

[0066] When the player starts playing after obtaining the pachinko balls and determining the pachinko machine, the status of playing the pachinko game is reported to the pachinko hall server all the time.

[0067] As described above, while the information to be transmitted from the pachinko hall server is encoded to assure confidentiality, how to encode and decode the code of the delivered game program itself is separately notified to the player. Further, the code may be changed periodically or at any timing via the network.

[0068] As described above, the player may control the launching strength of pachinko balls in the network pachinko game by operating the user interface of own player terminal, as with actual pachinko machines. The actual pachinko machines cannot change the speed of pachinko balls. However, in the network pachinko system according to the present invention, the speed of pachinko balls is arranged to be changeable. Thus, while players preferring to obtain the similar feeling to that of the actual pachinko machines may play without changing the speed of pachinko balls, players preferring a game feeling in more short period of time may play with increased speed of pachinko balls.

[0069] After completing a given setting for the operations of the pachinko machine as described above, the player starts playing the pachinko game (step S9).

[0070] In this embodiment, differently from the conventional pachinko games, the player may call for an image for obtaining pachinko balls as needed during playing the pachinko game without interrupting the play. This enables the player to refill pachinko balls without leaving the pachinko machine and to continuously play at the pachinko machine. Thus, a problem such that a favorite pachinko machine is undesirably occupied by other player while a player leaves the pachinko machine to obtain additional pachinko balls may be solved.

[0071] During playing the pachinko game, if one player gets a big winning of prize balls, this information is displayed on each screen of player terminals of any other players who are playing in the same pachinko hall. This is done not only for notifying other players that said pachinko machine is occupied, but also for motivating them by impressing the big winning of prize balls. Further, any suitable means for providing real-ambience, such as BGM, may be appropriately employed.

[0072] The player may finish the play at the time all pachinko balls or prize balls is lost or at any other timing. When some prize balls are remained after finishing the play, the prize balls may be stored as bonus points in an own player data. Specifically, since the pachinko hall server has the database for each player, prize balls owned by each player may be stored in this database as the number of prize balls or bonus points corresponding to the number of prize balls. Then, the bonus points or stored prize balls may be exchanged with prizes in proportion to the points or number at the pachinko hall or appropriate facilities of business partners (not limited to another pachinko hall servers) on the network.

[0073] With reference to FIG. 9, contents of the transmit information between the pachinko hall server and the player terminal will be described.

[0074] Registration of Personal Information

[0075] When registering in the network pachinko system, a player firstly transmits player's personal information from his/her player terminal to a pachinko hall server. In this embodiment, the personal information is transmitted as information encoded by SSL. The transmitted information is verified and registered by the pachinko hall server. After registering the player, an ID and password are issued to the payer by the pachinko hall server, and are transmitted from the pachinko hall server to the player terminal.

[0076] Link-UP

[0077] When playing the network pachinko, the player inputs the issued ID and password from the player terminal to connect with the pachinko hall server.

[0078] Playing Pachinko Game

[0079] The payer enters the pachinko hall by transmitting given personal information to the pachinko hall server according to the above steps, and selects one pachinko machine for playing the pachinko game thereat. Once the pachinko hall server receives a notification that the player has selected one pachinko machine from the player terminal, the information on the selected pachinko machine, such as information on specific pachinko machine characteristics, variable characteristics and the like of the pachinko machine is transmitted from the pachinko hall server to the player terminal.

[0080] Then, the player operates to communicate with the pachinko hall server in order to obtain pachinko balls. The pachinko balls may be obtained by various means as described above. Once the player has obtained the pachinko balls, a data related to obtaining the pachinko balls including the money amount corresponding to the obtained pachinko balls and the number of the obtained pachinko balls is transmitted from the pachinko hall server to the player terminal.

[0081] Then, the player may start playing the pachinko game. The player puts the obtained pachinko ball in the pachinko machine, and launches the pachinko balls by operating a user interface. The steps and operations after that are performed in substantially the same manner as those of the play in the conventional pachinko halls. More specifically, except for a point that the pachinko balls and pachinko machine are virtually displayed on the screen of the player terminal, the player will view from the screen of the player terminal the same scenes as those viewable when playing a pachinko game with having a seat in front of a pachinko machine in an actual pachinko hall. That is, when one pachinko ball enters a given win position, a predetermined number of prize balls is discharged into a prize ball tray of the pachinko machine. Further, when getting a big winning, this information is displayed in the same manner as that of the conventional pachinko machines. Then, when pachinko balls additionally enter a given win position within a predetermined period of the big winning, prize balls corresponding to the number of pachinko balls entered into the given win position are discharged as with the function of the conventional pachinko games. The player may view such a scene on the screen of the player terminal as in the conventional pachinko games.

[0082] Exchanging with Prizes

[0083] When the player intends to exchange owned prize balls with prizes, the player may notify such information from the player terminal 3 to the pachinko hall server 7. In this case, the player notifies his/her personal information and the number of prize balls to be exchanged or bonus points corresponding to the number of prize balls, to the pachinko hall server 7. This notification may include the information for specifying prizes to be exchanged. Then, the pachinko hall server 7 checks whether the player stores prize balls corresponding to the specified prizes, by searching the database of the player. When the player stores prize balls corresponding to the value of the specified prizes, the information for accepting to exchange with the specified prizes is transmitted to the player terminal 3. There are various specific manners for exchanging with prizes. For example, according to a instruction from the pachinko hall server 7, a certain prize delivery agent may delivers the instructed prizes to the player through a given delivery route. Otherwise, the management of exchanging with prizes may be handled in a suitable circular system, such as goods, valuable security, cash vouchers or the like, independent of the network pachinko system as prize exchange points.

[0084] Referring to FIG. 10, one example of a prize exchange system is shown. In the example of FIG. 10, a ticket is issued from the network pachinko system 1 to the player in exchange for the prize balls, and the player may obtain prizes from a certain mail order trader by use of the ticket. The mail order trader takes the collected ticket in the network pachinko system 1 to clear off the ticket which has exchanged with prizes.

[0085] The invention has now been explained with reference to specific embodiments. Other embodiments will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art. Therefore, it is not intended that the invention be limited, except as indicated by the appended claims, which form a part of this invention description.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7951002 *Jun 16, 2000May 31, 2011IgtUsing a gaming machine as a server
US8241132 *Jan 28, 2009Aug 14, 2012Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty LimitedGaming system and a method of managing usage of gaming machines
US8544846 *Jan 20, 2010Oct 1, 2013Kyoraku Industrial Co., Ltd.Game machine with alternative payout medium
US20090191973 *Jan 28, 2009Jul 30, 2009Blake Timothy James FreeleGaming system and a method of managing usage of gaming machines
US20110101605 *Jan 20, 2010May 5, 2011Kyoraku Industrial Co., Ltd.Game machine
EP2088563A1 *Jan 29, 2009Aug 12, 2009Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty, LtdGaming system and method of managing usage of gaming machines
WO2008087494A1 *Jan 16, 2007Jul 24, 2008Playtech Software LtdRemote computerized pachinko game
Classifications
U.S. Classification273/121.00B, 273/118.00R
International ClassificationG07F17/32, A63F7/02
Cooperative ClassificationG07F17/3244, G07F17/32, A63F7/027
European ClassificationG07F17/32, G07F17/32K
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Aug 31, 2001ASAssignment
Owner name: SIDO LIMITED, JAPAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:HIROTA, TAKESHI;REEL/FRAME:012139/0837
Effective date: 20010717
Jul 5, 2001ASAssignment
Owner name: SIDO LIMITED, JAPAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:HIROTA, TAKESHI;REEL/FRAME:011972/0159
Effective date: 20010702