Will social gaming give way to video game betting?

Will social gaming give way to video game betting?

Monday, November 17, 2014 Totally Gaming

By Tan Media


In the UK, football tells you all you need to know about gambling habits. Outside of the final result and goalscorer markets, you can bet on the number of yellow cards, corners, throw-ins and substitutions. You can bet on managerial dismissals, appointments and player transfers.

Elections are fought out in the bookmakers; festival headliners and the names of unborn royals are wagered on. Anything with an undetermined outcome is worth a fiver. 

The digital revolution had, until recently, simply made this process more convenient – instead of walking down the High Street, you flip open your laptop – but no more varied.

Now, however, diversity is the name of the game – bets are being taken not only in the virtual world but on it.

Social gaming’s prominence ebbs and flows – it’s the future one minute, the past the next – while video game gambling could become the gambler of the tomorrow’s choice.

Betting exchanges such as BetFair, founded in 2000, have changed the way people gamble, allowing gamers to pit their wits and bet your stakes against other customers rather than the bookmaker. 

While this has manifested itself largely in traditional betting (football, for example), the likes of TedBets is diversifying the market. The app allows two people – be they friends or strangers – to bet against each other on virtually anything – from how often a presenter repeats a catchphrase on a gameshow to the weather.

Scott Burton, its founder, told The Independent that his model is more about fun the profit. “The back-and-forth bets I make with friends are social and enjoyable," he said.

"It's about competition, rather than the amount of money we're winning."

In the US, gambling on chance is largely illegal – but gambling on skill is not, and the likes of Skillz, a mobile gaming app, has been launched to take advantage of that.

While this sort of social gambling is perhaps the future, many believed this new community would be formed around simulation worlds.

Zynga is the company perhaps most closely associated with social gaming, its FarmVille game, played on Facebook, proving a truly revolutionary product. For two years the game remained the most played on the social network, but has declined in dramatically in popularity.

Zynga’s fortunes have thus come to represent that of the entire industry.

Since its peak in July 2012, the company’s shares have fallen consistently, leading many to predict the premature end of the social gaming age – the company has lost $600m in net profit.

As it stands, social gaming is unlikely to replace traditional gambling – in casinos and bookmakers – or iGaming, which, in the UK in particular, is startlingly popular.

The future could therefore be in video game gambling.

World Gaming, formerly Virgin Gaming, was formed in June 2010 and is part of Richard Branson’s Virgin empire.

Partnering with Xbox and PlayStation, the fee-based online site allows users to gamble on video games.

While the practice hasn’t entirely taken off yet – many people remain unaware that you can gamble on your console – the market potential is huge, with millions around the world regularly playing on consoles.

Bettingonvideogames.com, which collects information on games that allow betting, reveals the sheer number of games where there is potential for or an active gambling community, including Halo, Call of Duty, Fifa.

While not entirely different to social gaming, betting on video games is a meatier alternative. Like adrenaline sports – such as football – video games are exciting anyway – betting adds that extra dimension.

There is also the potential for competitions, which combine the traditional poker tournaments with formal group gaming sessions or informal get-togethers with friends.

Players can now not only prove they’re the best, but put their money with their mouth in a way not dissimilar to putting a wager on a pool match.

Soon, that headshot could be worth a lot more.


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