Caesars Interactive Entertainment, as a subsidiary of Caesar Entertainment, is part of the world’s largest gaming company. It has built its social gaming portfolio with studio acquisitions such as Playtika and Buffalo Studios as well as through partnerships with Microsoft and Electronic Arts. With these acquisitions, Eilers Research reports that Caesars now holds 18.6 percent of the overall social casino market in the second quarter.
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.
Zynga Plus Poker is a new real-money gaming service from the social gaming giant. At present, it is available in the U.K. — its availability in other territories will depend on local laws relating to online gambling. Zynga Plus Poker is one of two real-money gaming services that the company has launched recently — the other being Zynga Plus Casino, which we explored yesterday.
Like Zynga Plus Casino, Zynga Plus Poker is playable both via a dedicated client app that is available for both Windows and Mac machines, and via the Web in a Java-based “Instant Play” pop-up window. There are currently a few issues when attempting to run the Web-based version of Zynga Plus Poker in certain browsers such as Chrome on the Mac, but Safari and Firefox offer a more reliable experience, and Zynga is aware of the problems. Players are pushed very strongly in the direction of the downloadable client from the service’s front page.
As with Zynga Plus Casino, Zynga Plus Poker requires players to sign up for a proprietary account in order to play — though if they already have an account for Zynga Plus Casino, this may be used for Zynga Plus Poker and vice versa. Any balance that the player has in their account can be shared between the two games, though at the time of writing I encountered some issues where all of my real-money balance was regarded as “restricted” and thus it did not appear to be possible to bring it into real-money games. It’s not clear whether this is a problem with the service or if there are some prerequisites that I have not met, and the help function in the app itself does not do a very good job of explaining what a “restricted” balance is or why it is restricted.
Zynga Plus Casino is a new real-money gaming service from the social gaming giant. At present, it is available in the U.K. — its availability in other territories will depend on local laws relating to online gambling. Zynga Plus Casino is one of two real-money gaming services that the company has launched recently — the other being Zynga Plus Poker, which we’ll take a closer look at tomorrow.
Zynga Plus Casino may be accessed either via the Web or a dedicated downloadable piece of client software. The Web version does not work correctly on Mac OS X-based devices, failing to recognize when the user is logged in, and the downloadable client is only available for Windows-based computers at this time — so either way, Mac users are out of luck at present.
A Zynga Plus Casino account may be used in Zynga Plus Poker and vice-versa, so it’s only necessary for the player to create one account. In order to do so, they must provide their personal details, including their name, address and date of birth. There’s no apparent means of identity-checking in place to verify the user’s age aside from the birthdate selector — gamblers in the U.K. must be at least 18 years of age in order to play. There’s also no means of registering for an account with Facebook or other social networks — the Zynga Plus services use their own proprietary accounts.
Social games giant Zynga announced on its official blog today that the its first real money betting games ZyngaPlusPoker and ZyngaPlusCasino will launch tomorrow in the U.K.
As the name implies, ZyngaPlusPoker is an online poker room which offers a variety of games, tournaments and “buy-ins at every level.” ZyngaPlusCasino is comprosed of more than 160 slots games and table games like blackjack, roulette and a FarmVille-themed slots games. Both games are launching with special offers that give players real-money bonuses and free cash on deposit.
Both games will use a single, shared wallet that works with the web versions as well as the downloadable clients. Mobile version of the games are planned for later this year.
We knew that real money betting games from Zynga were going to come out in the U.K. sometime in the first half of 2013 ever since the company announced its partnership with bwin.party, a real money games operator.
This is the second social games partnership for bwin.party, following its deal with sports social game developer Nordeus announced in September. Bwin.party has also set aside $50 million for its own social game development, with the funding being used to establish a new studio called Win. In Feburary, Win launched its first game, Slots Craze, worldwide for Facebook and iOS.
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. At the moment, Zynga’s shares are up by more than 5 percent in After Hours trading since the announcement.
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.
Real-money gaming platform Betable today announced the newest partner in its private beta program: casual game developer Frima Studio’s new real-money game division 3OAK.
3OAK is a new development studio formed to create casual and social games built featuring real-money gameplay. Like other developers who have partnered with Betable since the company came out of stealth last summer, 3OAK will be targeting international audiences with the games featuring Betable’s API.
Although real-money gaming has only been seen in social casino games so far, 3OAK isn’t working on these kinds of titles right now. 3OAK director Mikael Lefebvre tells us the studio is working to bring real-money mechanics to genres they haven’t really appeared in so far. As a result, the company has a slate of five game concepts it’s working on, based on the most popular social game types. While he can’t share too many details right now, Lefebvre says the company’s first title will be a humorous/light social RPG which is already in the early testing phase and is expected for an early Q2 launch.
Lefebvre says 3OAK tested out real-money gaming by creating a social game prototype with a cash out mechanic. The prototype showed the retention and engagement were significantly higher than the norm in social games, as well as converting users to paying players. He thinks implementing elements like this will is the way of the future because, “all this makes sense because in the current market the cost of acquiring users is getting higher and higher, so we need higher revenue per user and revenue per paying user.”
While 3OAK’s titles will feature real-money gaming in the territories where such mechanics are legal, Lefebvre tells us they’ll also be available as standard social games in other countries with soft and hard currencies.
Betable CEO Christopher Griffin tells us he’s excited about how 3OAK’s implementing his company’s API; according to Griffin, this is one of the first examples of Betable’s technology in social games outside of the casino genre. He tells us there are other developers working with Betable on non-social casino games, but none of them have been officially unveiled yet.
Griffin believes this is just the start of a larger movement in the social/mobile gaming industries to incorporate real-money elements. “I think this is more than a trend and will be more than a trend,” he says. “This has something that will be very core for how these games monetize and will be essential for them to have some element of real money in them if they want to be competitive.”
Although this is the first time we’ve heard of companies making casual games with real-money mechanics, we’ve known this was a possibility since Betable first came out of stealth. When we initially chatted with Griffin back in July, he provided a mock-up graphic showing how his company’s API would look in mobile titles like Words With Friends and Hero Academy.
Betable’s proven a popular partner in the social/mobile games sector ever since it publicly debuted. Griffin reveals the demand to work with the company has been so great that its team has doubled in size. Before this latest announcement, Betable’s announced partnerships with some major casual gaming companies like Big Fish Games, Digital Chocolate, SGN and Slingo.
3OAK’s first games will be launched for mobile platforms, but the plan is to make them cross-platform sooner rather than later. “Everything has to be cross-platform,” Lefebvre notes.
Social Media Jobs
of the Day
amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research
New York, NY
New York, NY
Beverly Hills, CA