What is Social Gaming?
Technically, social gaming is any type of game that can be played by multiple opponents, as opposed to single-player games. The social gaming world includes age-old favorites like Canasta, Bridge, Poker and Cribbage, as well as the more modern board games like Life, Monopoly and Risk.
In more modern terms, social gaming refers to online games that involve multiple players. These can include complex war games like Empire Total War, world-building games like Star Craft and EVE, deck-building games like Tyrant, and purely social games like The Sims.
What About Gambling?
Until now, online gambling has pretty much been a mirror image of the real-life, Vegas-style gambling experience. Most online gambling sites, like Jackpotjoy bingo, offer games like Poker, Roulette and, of course, Bingo. And most of these games are played just like they are in Vegas but with virtual cards, chips, roulette wheels and bingo counters. But one thing isn't virtual. Just like in Vegas, these sites offer players the chance to win real money.
And while this type of betting certainly has its appeal, some people believe that interest is waning. MMO -- massive multiple-player online gaming -- is simply too popular. These gaming sites draw millions of players every day and some of those players are being siphoned away from gambling sites because of the strict controls to ensure that all players are over 18 years of age and that other criteria is met.
The Best of Both Worlds
But, what if people didn't have to choose between the two genres? What if there were a way to combine the thrill of gambling with the fun and camaraderie of online gaming? That is exactly what some of the MMO companies have in mind. Until now, according to a July 25 posting on Betable Blog, these companies have had few options for profiting from the games they offer. If users have a chance to earn money, however, they will be "highly invested in their games" and the companies can earn money as well.
And the online gambling industry had better sit up and take notice. If social gaming sites are working on ways for their players to earn real-life money while also enjoying the thrill of strategy and the fun of camaraderie, old-fashioned gambling might lose its appeal. Slingo is one game that's already combining the two genres. In a recent article on Inside Social Games, the social aspect of the casino-like game was described as including "friends-only leader boards" and the ability to hand out energy or power-ups to other players.
An Uneasy Truce
The online gaming industry needs to be a little uneasy as well. Companies profiting from online gambling are not likely to be content watching their customers leave. As a recent blog posting on Betable Blog put it, with the gambling industry eyeing social gaming, it could mean "that massive companies with equally massive marketing budgets are lumbering into town." More games like Bingo Friendzy could be coming soon! With the average player on a gambling site contributing as much as $300 a month, the article goes on to explain, gambling sites like Jackpotjoy bingo are likely to try hard to retain their players.
What Does the Future Holds
When the dust has settled, there will probably be many hybrids of both social gaming and gambling sites. The players will undoubtedly be the real winners in this epic battle. They will have the choice of playing purely social games, Vegas-style casino games, or a charming mix of the two. And the mixed games will probably be the most popular. Being able to build a world of avatars, fight deep space battles and win real money all at the same time will be pretty irresistible.
George R Vaughan