Crowdpark gets into casino-styled games on Facebook

Social forecasting start-up moves into popular casino-games category with Pet Vegas and AnteUp

Technology trends and news by Bambi Francisco Roizen
February 28, 2012
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There's a new player on Facebook looking to go head-to-head with Zynga, International Game Technology's Double Down Interactive and Electronic Arts' PopCap Games.

Just a week after PopCap Games pushed out Lucky Gem Casino on Facebook to take advantage of the demand for casino-styled games on the social network, Berlin, Germany-based Crowdpark announced Tuesday the launching of two new casino-styled games for Facebook called Pet Vegas, a slot-machine game and peer-to-peer betting game AnteUp, which lets anyone easily make a bet with a friend. 

AnteUp is a social betting game that enables people to make bets with one another that's as simple as posting on Twitter, said Ingo Hinterding, co-founder and Chief Product Officer of Crowdpark, in an interview with me. "It's an app that you can use really easy," Hinterding explained. "With Twitter, you have 140 words to post, AnteUp is doing the same thing with social betting." 

Sounds interesting. But why do people need an app for bets they probably already easily could make?

"There is no real app that allows people to keep tracks of their bets," said Hinterding. For instance, if you've gone to a bar and you made a bet with a friend, you might have forgotten that bet. Indeed, I always forget bets I've made. "With AnteUp, you can follow the bet," said Hinterding. And, because it's on Facebook, you might even be able to apply some social pressure.

As for Pet Vegas, it's a simple slot machine game targeting mostly females between 30 and 50 years old. Much like any slot machine, you get virtual coins, spin the slot and test your luck. This game was created to leverage the large female demographic that play games on Facebook. 

Opportunity and competition

Despite the big market opportunity, you might wonder whether Crowdpark can compete in a space that's getting very crowded very quickly since Zynga launched Zynga Poker on Facebook in 2007. In January, IGT paid $500 million for Double Down, which was estimated to be generating $50 million a year in revenue.  

Just last week, PopCap Games launched a slot-based game, which sounds similar to Pet Vegas. PopCap Games also has branding on its side with some hits like Bejeweled. I

Crowdpark's foray into casino-styled games is relatively nascent. It did launch a social-betting game called Bet Tycoon in January 2011, the time it got its Series A funding. Unlike AnteUp, Bet Tycoon is a game that lets people bet on real life events in sports and entertainment. In many ways, it's a far more complex gaming system than AnteUp. 

"it didn't live up to our expectations," said Hinterding. "But we learned a lot," he said, adding that today's AnteUp game is a result of those learnings. "People love to bet," he said. "But we have to make it simple and easy to use... Simplicity of making a bet is more important than having the most features." 

But clearly, the game was faring well enough that Crowdpark managed to secure $6 million in funding in October from Target Partner and Earlybird Venture Capital.  

Crowdpark, which was founded in 2009, was spun off from Analyx, an analytics company based in Germany and Poland, which owns 20% of Crowdpark. Its roots are grounded in data analytics and forecasting before the team, which now consists of 35 employees, set their sites on dynamic-betting and social games. "We were [initialy] focused on forecasting future events," said Hinterding.  

Crowdpark is leveraging its data analytic skills and patent-pending dynamic betting technology to go after the booming gaming market on social networks. It's estimated that worldwide sales for social network games was $4.94 billion last year and will be $6.2 billion this year, according to Casual Games Association. Social gaming growth rate is 25%, said Hinterding, with the growth rate for casino-styled games growing 170% in monthly active users year over year. 


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