So, online gambling is illegal, right? Well, not if you do it right, according to Crowdpark co-founder Ingo Hinterding and COO Christoph Jenke, who just scored another $6 million in funding from European investors Target Partners and Earlybird Venture Capital. The injection of cash will fuel the company's first social game, Bet Tycoon, a social betting game that has been available on Facebook since April of this year.
Berlin, Germany-based Crowdpark has big plans for Bet Tycoon, powered by the developer's "Dynamic Betting" technology, which shifts the odds on a given bet in real time in response to where gamblers decide place their bets. The game, which welcomes 480,000 monthly players, allows players to place bets on real life events from just where Angelina will go to adopt her next baby to who will win the football game this weekend. (That's both American and world football, mind you.)
Players can also create their own bets and send them to friends for personalized competition. We sat down with the duo recently to learn more about Bet Tycoon, what's next for the game and how Crowdpark intends to capitalize on what it calls "an entirely new genre of social betting games."
What drove Crowdpark to the idea for Bet Tycoon, and more importantly, "social betting?"
Ingo Hinterding: We do have a patent pending technology, which is called Dynamic Betting, and we've been using it for some time for B2B. We've found that this technology is really unique, and there had yet to be a social game done with this technology. We've found that this is really interesting--it could be a real game-changer--because the odds are defined by the crowd in real time. This gives us the opportunity to have a real life and real-time-based game, which is really new to Facebook right now.
How is the game kept current? Do you have a team that just updates the game with new bets?
IH: That's exactly what we're doing! So, we do have editors working, like all over the world and based here in the headquarters, in Berlin, and in the UK. And we do have editors working in the states right now, based in New York. These editors listen and have an open eye for what is there to bet about in these countries, what's really interesting. And they provide these bets in two languages right now: English and German, [but] Spanish and Turkish languages are following.
Players appear to level up in the game. Does this have a purpose beyond bragging rights?
IH: It's all about overcoming restrictions and progress, and having something from the progress, right? This is something we will launch within the next week--a big update where we will include new features related to the progress of the player in the game. You'll have the ability to bet on more and premium features. We're pretty excited about that.
Can you speak more specifically to those new features?
IH: Sure, would be happy to. To give a sneak peek, we are adding a metaphor about progressing in an office building. You'll start in the basement, making your way up to the top--kind of like the American Dream through betting.
Now that Bet Tycoon is out and has around 1 million monthly players, what's the next step for the game?
IH: We have several products [we're working on] not only on Facebook, but across platforms. We are working on a dedicated [mobile] product for sports and you can see that on our website called Fanatical. It's all about sports, and the excitement of sports. Naturally, betting and sports are a perfect fit, with more sports apps coming soon. And we're working on a game vertical of our Bet Tycoon that is directed to sports fans on Facebook. That's coming soon.
Now, I notice that players are able to purchase more betting cash with Facebook Credits, but aren't able to make any real cash off of winning bets, thus making it legal. How have players reacted to this so far, and how do you expect players to react as Bet Tycoon gains steam?
Christoph Jenke: Of course, Crowdpark's betting game is 100 percent legal. We will be able to translate Facebook Credits into our second currency, Crowdpark Dollars. Of course, like in any social game, they're never able to translate into real currency. Crowdpark is totally about the fun of betting, [we're] focused on the thrill of betting and not for real money.
As Ingo said, we don't have that many restrictions. It's quite easy to play the game without putting real money into Facebook Credits, so of course, we will add more features. I hope people will be really willing to pay for the experience and leveling up just like in any other social game.
What plans does Crowdpark have for future games? Will they all have a casino/betting hook to them, and if so how will that change?
IH: The social betting is our focus right now. But you've got that spot on: Casino games are really relevant for us too. The target audience and the players are quite similar. They love to bet, people love to play poker games, slot machines and bingo. They're a really good fit, and we're looking into the market right now.
Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, Ingo and Christoph.
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