Gamesville offers cash bonuses with Pirate Cove for Facebook

Casual games portal Gamesville makes its way to Facebook with Pirate Cove Bingo, a social game that raises the stakes with daily cash rewards.

Gamesville has been online since 1996, featuring what Producer Eric Chon describes as “casino lite” games like 3 Eyed Bingo, Hot Streak Solitaire and Pit Stop Slots. The big draw for players is that these games offer cash jackpots, which start out at $5 and have gone as high as $8,900. The portal currently contains nine in-house games and a series of third-party titles via publishing deals with partners like Real Media and World Winner.

The developer entered Facebook very recently, launching Pirate Cove Bingo Nov. 23, 2011. The game is a standard Bingo title that offers a pirate-themed environment. The cash prizes are what make the game interesting, especially considering that Facebook doesn’t currently allow social games to pay out real money to players. Gamesville has a system in place that not only provides the opportunity to win the money, but also levels the playing field between paying and non-paying players. Here’s how it works: Players get two different types of Bingo cards, white and gold. White cards can be purchased via the game’s soft currency and players automatically receive five gold cards each day. If a player scores Bingo on a gold card, they are entered in a daily drawing for $25, handled on Gamesville’s site.

Note that Gamesville isn’t the only company providing players with cash rewards for playing their games; portal sites King.com and GameDuell offer cash prizes in tournaments held on their own sites. Gamesville is, however, the first that we know of to take the real cash concept directly to Facebook. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of effect this has on retention and conversion. King.com CEO Riccardo Zacconi once mentioned to ISG that tourneys hosted within Facebook game Bubble Saga didn’t have a significant impact on retention.

So far, Chon says Pirate Cove Bingo’s progress on Facebook is encouraging given that the developer hasn’t advertised the game beyond a mention on the company’s official site and blog. The title hit 9,000 MAU in January 2012 but recently dropped to 5,000 MAU; DAU has been consistently hovering around the 1,000 line, aside from a spike on March 11 when it went up to 2,000 DAU. As a comparison, Gamesville’s web portal has 35,745 registered users and 31,458 guest users.

Chon says the long term plan is to increase traffic for both Pirate Cove Bingo on Facebook and Gamesville’s web portal via cross promotion. As for monetization, the web portal mainly relies on video ads displayed between game rounds. Players can avoid the ads by buying a $25 annual Gold Membership, and instead receive a minigame between rounds and can receive double the jackpot if they win it. Pirate Cove Bingo is not currently monetized on Facebook at all, but that will change with future updates. Pirate Cove Bingo is due for two more updates before it reaches what Chon describes as “Complete Version 1.0.” The next update is due in May, with the final one scheduled to launch in early Fall. Both of these updates will include things like new settings to play in and a virtual goods shop.

Gamesville is owned by Lycos, but the games portal generates enough money to support the 12-person development team. The site isn’t hiring right now, but Chon says that it will likely do so in the near future.

Correction: Chon contacted us with the following clarifications/corrections to this story.

  • All of Gamesville’s titles are free.
  • The number of actual registered users for the Gamesville portal is incorrect, we’re waiting for an updated number.
  • Gamesville has 19 in-house games: CatchUp CoverAll, Three-Eyed Bingo, Bingo Zone, Super Chef, Quick-Draw Poker, Magic 21, Gold 21, Frantic Fish, Pit Stop, Bubble Popper, Bubble Popper 2, Spite and Malice, Poker Inferno, Spider Solitaire, Hot Streak Solitaire, Addiction Solitaire, Tip Top Solitaire, Word Whopper, Miami Dice. The games Chon told us about are the ten most-played games on the site.
  • Gamesville is always actively looking for new talent.

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