We'll be the first to admit it: Casino games have become a dime a dozen on Facebook recently. From Zynga's own Zynga Poker to Poker Rivals by Playfish and DoubleDown Casino, the sub genre is quickly becoming crowded. (Even PopCap appears keen on the genre.) That said, it's going to take a unique approach for a chance to attract a healthy chunk of that player base.
Yazino, a UK-based social gaming start-up founded in 2008, looks to bring exactly that with what CEO Hussein Chahine calls "in-sync" gaming. Chahine's vision is to have players compete and chat in real time across the web, iOS and Android devices--and Yazino is already doing just that. The seven games Yazino has today all started with a simple idea.
"The idea that we came by is, 'How do we take poker--a very engaging, a lot of emotions, there's a bit of skill when you play--and build an engine that builds completely synchronous games,'" Chahine tells us. "It's dedicated to games that are multiplayer by nature, and people want to play together. In all of the gambling industry, poker was the most powerful."
With that, Chahine and crew opted to create several classic casino games with the real-time competition that poker provides. And it's because of this direct competition that the Yazino chief believes his team works toward games that are truly social. "We have games on social networks, rather than social games," Chahine says. "If we put Solitaire on Facebook, would Solitaire be a social game?"
While only two of Yazino's games--Blackjack and Slots Wheel Deal--are available on iOS, all of its games are on Facebook. Well, sort of. The company's seven games appear to be Facebook applications, but when launched redirect to Yazino's own website, which hosts the games complete with your list of Facebook friends and even random matchmaking. So, why take this route? According to Chahine, Facebook simply can't handle synchronous, multiplatform gaming at the moment.
"Synchronous play has a much deeper and more competitive advantage over asynchronous games. Because of the immersive nature of synchronous games, [the Facebook Ticker] is really a distraction, and actually quite annoying," Chahine admits. "It's like you're [watching] a horse race--you only want to know about what the horse is doing. Do I really care about 'Fred is listening to music?' The synchronous nature and intensity of these games require a different ambiance and a different environment."
Yazino also looks to give players the option to create personal communities within the larger player base. Chahine (pictured right) uses the English football club Manchester United as an example: A group of friends who play in Manchester United together will soon have the option to create their own sub group, complete with its own leader boards. Because of this, along with the prospects of live chat and real-time gameplay across platforms, Chahine tells us that using Facebook directly isn't an option. (However, it's important to take note that this strategy appears to leave Yazino free from the grips of Facebook Credits too.)
Of course (well, at least in the U.S.), players can't cash in on their virtual winnings, as online gambling was effectively outlawed years ago. And apparently, players are actually happy to accept this reality, according to Chahine. The Yazino head also chalks that up to the fact that players can enjoy its games for free through offers and chips provided daily. Giving players the opportunity to play for free is "a big area of focus" for Yazino, Chahine tells us. And according to him, the entire social gaming scene would be different if online gambling hadn't suffered its run-ins with the law before the turn of the decade. Zynga Poker was one of Zynga's first games, after all.
"Zynga is the only player that's not a gambling site that could throw that game. Poker Stars didn't have the opportunity," Chahine tells us. "They were banned from Facebook, so if PokerStars and the other big sites were allowed even from a virtual perspective. So, if they were allowed to enter that market, there's no way Zynga would have had that success with Zynga Poker."
In other words, Facebook could have very well been dominated by casino and gambling games if not for Internet gambling's dashed history with the law before and during Facebook's rise. But Yazino isn't interested in real money gambling. Period. (But is it any less real when players can pay for chips, but not see a return?) Regardless, what Chahine says is that Yazino is interested in is to "reinvent gambling in a much more sophisticated way."
"When you play together, our emotions are heightened," Chahine gushes. "It's more amplified, it's more real and we become more competitive. We do believe at Yazino, what we're trying to become is the pioneer of friendly competition."
Have you tried any of Yazino's games on Facebook (sort of) or mobile yet? What are your thoughts on the rise of casino games on Facebook and elsewhere? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.