Editor’s note: During the upcoming Inside Social Games Conference on June 6-7, Bret Terrill, the Founder of 12gigs.com, will be moderating two panels on the future of social apps, “Gambling Games: The Promise of Real Money,” and “Platform Opportunities for Social Apps.” InsideSocialGames.com had the opportunity to ask Bret two important questions on the future of social and mobile games.
Bret Terrill: A cross-platform gaming network is something that a lot of people were chasing last year as the next big thing. The idea was: Similar to Facebook owning the social graph, a company could own the “gamer graph”, connecting people who liked certain genres across platforms and games. As it stands today, Facebook is really the only company that has been successful in creating a cross-platform (PC and multiple mobile environments) gaming network , one that has largely fed off their immense social network.
Other large games companies, such as DeNA and Gree, have had success in the Japanese market, but they have moved toward a publisher model in the last year. It is an open question on whether Clash of Clans players care about what other games the people they “friend” within the game are playing. I suspect the gameing industry itself cares much more than the players, who are more interested to see what is in the top charts of their phone’s App Store.
Zynga today held its annual stockholders meeting in San Francisco, which heavily focused on the game company’s real-money gaming efforts, an anonymous shareholder told PandoDaily.
Zynga’s shareholder meeting comes one day after the company just laid off 18 percent of its staff (520 employees) and shut down three of its offices — Los Angeles, Dallas, and New York — including Omgpop‘s office. (more…)
Real-money gaming is now reality in the U.S. with Skillz, a first-of-its-kind multiplayer tournament platform, whivh gives players the chance to compete for real money and virtual currency in mobile games of skill. The platform launched today in beta for Android.
“We’re bringing real-money gaming to the U.S. right now, and we’re the first people to do that,” Andrew Paradise, co-founder and CEO of Skillz, tells Inside Mobile Apps.
Skillz enables games of skill to be played in cash tournaments in 36 states — such as California, New York, Texas and more — as well as virtual currency tournaments in any game worldwide. All a mobile developer has to do to enable cash and free multiplayer tournaments is integrate Skillz’s SDK, which can be implemented in as short as an hour to three work days.
Skillz has come out of stealth with 10 developers with 10 games on board, including Gnarly Games with GnarBike Trials, Spooky House Studios with Bubble Explode, Rocketmind with Big Sport Fishing 3D Lite and more. The first batch of titles run the gamut genre-wise, with genres like endless runners, bubble shooters, mini golf and more.
The obvious question to ask is how did Skillz make real-money gaming legal in the U.S.? The easiest answer is that real-money gaming via a skills competition has been legal for years in most states. First, it’s important to define the difference between a skill versus a chance game. On one end of the spectrum is a skill game like chess and on the other end is a chance game like roulette. The legal definition of a skilled game is if a skilled player predominantly beats an unskilled player about 75 percent of the time. Examples of games of skill where a cash competition is legal include chess tournaments, running marathons, golf tournaments, fishing tournaments, esports tournaments for games like StarCraft 2 and Call of Duty, even the arcade game Golden Tee, and more.
“One of the things we created is a way to statistically verify the level of skill versus chance in a game, and so one of the things we do is plug in these virtual currency tournaments into a given game and then we’ll run virtual currency tournaments and gather data,” Paradise says. “Basically, we can look at how often skilled players beat unskilled players and then determine if a game is skill versus chance.” (more…)
Social-mobile gaming developer Digital Chocolate today launched its first real-money gaming title Slots! Pocket UK for iOS in the U.K.
Powered by real-money gaming platform Betable, Slots! Pocket UK is a slots game that allows U.K. users the option to wager either real money or virtual currency and chips on pulls of the slot machine. Betable first announced its partnership with Digital Chocolate back in November 2012. Digital Chocolate is one of 10 developers so far to partner with Betable for its real-money gaming platform, which is still a private beta program. Betable handles all the real-money aspects of the game on the backend, including compliance, fraud prevention, identity checks, wagering, and gambling results, while Digital Chocolate can focus on the development of the actual game. In order for players to gamble with real money, they must be authenticated with Betable by signing up, depositing money, and more.
“[Betable] helped us leapfrog the whole race into real-money gaming by allowing us to partner with them on their platform, and of course, they have the license in the U.K. to do real-money gaming,” Jason Loia, chief operating officer of Digital Chocolate, told Inside Mobile Apps.
Continue reading on Inside Mobile Apps.
Bee Cave Games today revealed that it has closed an initial seed investment round of over $1.4 million from from employees, select private investors and a strategic investment from Glu Mobile.
The Company’s first title, Blackjack Casino, is now in private beta on Facebook, with mobile and tablet versions in development as well.
Bee Cave Games is a social and mobile games developer founded in late 2012 by former Zynga employees Erik Bethke, Nimai Malle, and Jeremy Strauser, all former employees at Zynga’s Austin office, which was significantly downsized last year. Members of the development team have worked on both social and AAA console and PC titles including Zynga’s Texas Hold’em Poker, EA’s NFL games, and Blizzard’s Diablo series.
Fresh Deck Poker is a cross-platform poker game that has been available on Facebook for a while, and more recently received an iOS version. Said iOS version was recently updated to be fully optimized for iPad, iPhone 5 and iPad mini play, and an Android version is reported to be in the works for release very soon. The game is the product of Idle Games, last seen with the visually-impressive but ultimately disappointing Facebook title Idle Worship, and makes use of the massively multiplayer platform developed for that game.
This review is based on the iOS version, tested on an iPhone 4S running iOS 6.0.
Players may begin playing Fresh Deck Poker either as a guest or by connecting to Facebook. If the latter option is chosen, this allows the player to sync their progress between play on the social network and play on the go. Players may not customize the name displayed for themselves, though since the game does not display their Facebook profile picture and only displays their first name and last initial, there is little chance of them being personally identified. They may, however, select an avatar to represent themselves in the game. A selection of these are unlocked from the outset of the game, with others becoming available either through the expenditure of hard currency or by gaining experience levels through normal play.
Bookie Mania is a new Facebook game from Bookie Mania Ltd. It’s a “social betting game” designed to encourage its players to bet on various events against the house, other players or their Facebook friends.
Upon starting Bookie Mania for the first time, players are presented with a menu of options. From here, it’s possible to make a bet against the house, against other “bookies” (players) around the world, or against friends.
Betting against the house is the simplest option. This takes players to a screen where they can choose a category of bet, ranging from various sports to the financial markets. From here, players drill down until they get to a specific category, at which point they will be presented with a range of possible things to bet on in the category, along with the odds for each. For those unfamiliar with betting, a handy popup tooltip tells players exactly what the odds readout means they will win if their bet is successful. A default amount to bet is given, but players may choose to bet more if they desire — though there is a maximum bet of 50,000 currency units if betting against the house. (more…)
Zynga announced a partnership with real money games operator bwin.party today to support real money poker and casino games in the United Kingdom.
A press release detailing the partnership explains that Zynga’s U.K.-based real money gaming service will launch both a poker game and a suite of 180 casino games in the first half of 2013 with bwin.party’s help. Many have touted the revenue potential of real money gaming as a means to “save” Zynga from a total collapse of its social games business. Others, though — including Inside Social Games — have expressed skepticism that Zynga’s current non-real money audience could be converted to real-money gamers.
This is the second social games partnership for bwin.party following its deal with sports social game developer Nordeus announced in September. Zynga’s third quarter 2012 financial results are being reported today following yesterday’s layoffs and a studio closure.
UPDATE: During the Q&A portion of today’s earnings call, CFO Dave Wehner reigned in investor expectations, saying that the deal “is a first step, so we’re not talking any details around the economics at this time.”
Social Casino Intellegence is reporting that Zynga has hired online gambling firm 888’s former senior vice president of corporate and regulated markets Maytal Ginsburg Olsha.
The hire shows that Zynga is gearing up for real-money social gaming overseas, and perhaps here in the U.S. should the company succeed in changing the legislation that currently forbids it. We recently reported that Zynga is spending a lot of cash on lobbying for real-money gaming. The company spent $75,000 in lobbying fees in the last quarter both in Washington and California, centering around a bill that would let companies offer online poker in the state.
Although real-money gaming is still illegal in the United States because of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, it’s very much a part of U.K. culture. As a result, several companies are starting to double down and create social casino games that allow players to gamble with actual cash.
The news also follows casual game developer Big Fish’s announcement two weeks ago that it is joining with Betable to bring real-money gambling to the United Kingdom with Big Fish Casino, a re-branded version of the social mobile casino game Card Ace: Casino. Prior to that announcement, Gamesys launched the first such app on Facebook with Bingo Friendzy.
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