RocketPlay and Zynga team up, bring social sports-betting to Facebook and Zynga.com
Sports Casino is a social casino game primarily focused on providing a realistic sports-betting environment, although the title does contain two poker and two slots games. Players can bet on real sporting events, with odds updating in real time and live-betting coming into play once a game begins. At the moment, users can bet on both pro and college football, pro soccer games in the United States and Europe and Baseball. RocketPlay President Matthew Cullen tells us hockey and basketball (both college and pro) will be available to bet on in a few weeks once their seasons start ramping up.
At the moment, Sports Casino is oriented towards North American and Western European audiences, but RocketPlay is in the process of including other sports like tennis and cricket so the game will have more international appeal.
When asked why RocketPlay chose to work with Zynga, Cullen explains the decision came down to numbers, both in terms of audience size and the cost of user acquisition. “We ran the numbers as it related to trying to go alone or partnering with someone like Zynga,” he tells us. “It just made sense to work with someone to publish the game.”
Although RocketPlay had several publishing options on the table, “Zynga just made a tremendous amount of sense.”
Sports-betting isn’t exactly a popular genre on Facebook; in fact, among the top 30 gambling on our AppData traffic-tracking service there isn’t one game focused primarily on this type of social gambling. When asked why the developer chose to pursue sports-betting, Cullen says it’s due to the team having a background in real-money sports gaming, as well as how the entire team loves sports. “Each one of us, spent a lot of time in sports,” he tells us, going on to say he and his colleagues all ran fantasy sports teams. “Sports is part of our DNA. Everybody is really passionate about it.”
Cullen admits that building other casino games — especially slots — is probably easier than creating a sports-betting platform, primarily because of the outside factors that surround live events. While outcomes with slot machines (real or virtual) can be created via random number generators, nothing is really certain in sports and, “having to deal with betting propositions around the event and being able to dynamically change those propositions [based on real time developments].”
Partnering with RocketPlay is a canny move for Zynga. Despite games like The Ville or ChefVille or Bubble Safari occasionally surpassing it, Texas HoldEm Poker is usually Zynga’s top-performing game in terms of daily active users. Poker and sports-betting often go hand-in-hand, often sharing players in both real and European online casinos; in real-world casinos, poker tables tend to be placed next to the sports rooms. It also increases Zynga’s IP catalog to use when the company eventually decides to start implementing real-money gaming in its titles.
There’s one added bonus to bringing this type of game onto Facebook: The audience for sports-betting tends to skew towards adult men, which is a group Zynga’s been actively pursuing in recent months. In July, we learned at Casual Connect that the company was shopping around to purchase core game developers. On a similar track, Zynga announced last week that it was going to publish Eruptive Games’s core action title Citizen Grim on both Facebook and Zynga.com. If the developer can bring in more men to play its games with Sports Casino and then get them to play other core games via cross-promotion, it could lead to a serious growth in both players and revenue for the company.