To continue with yesterdays post mulling over the value of virtual goods in Online Gambling sites. Several sites are becoming one stop casinos offering everything from online horse bettingto being able to gamble on Plinko or Scrabble. Okay, maybe not yet, but they are headed that way.
Let's Poker was an early innovator in the concept of virtual goods to players. Unfortunately, for Let's Poker they were an American based poker site just getting start when U.I.E.G.A got passed (or is it U.E.I.G.A I can never remember if the "e" or the "i" comes first--somebody should come up with a mnemonic device for that). So, unable to build a player base to test out their theory and not wanting to move to Costa Rica for the foreseeable future the site went under. Which is a shame because they had a lot of fresh, at the time ideas, like moving quickly on a mobile betting platform.
So, we don’t know if the Gamer inspired variations of poker would have been a lure to those new to the game. It makes sense to some degree but at the same time poker players, even teen-aged ones are there to make real money not necessarily to spend it. Most of them look at poker as a possible income source not a stress release or a place to entertain themselves. In that perspective, the appealing aspects of a site are probably the antithesis of what appeals them to online games.
In poker, they want the easiest place it is to win. If you could guarantee them money playing in a text based game every time out, the players would FLOCK to your site. Also, as most of the players that play on any poker site are losers why would they want to spend any more real cash at a place they are already shipping cash through? The winners 30%, 15% or as few as 10% depending on what source you cite might spend some virtual cash there but is that enough to supplement your business on?
Well, the simple answer to me is why not offer it? There is no overhead, or little overhead, to virtual goods, once you’ve upgraded the game engine to allow it (essentially a fixed cost), you can offer the product and “manufacture” millions of it. If the cost of programming is met or slightly superceded why not do it especially if it brings a few more people to your product.
It might build brand loyalty for those that enjoy that. It might get people curious to try out the experience once the marketplace becomes barely perceptible differences in vanilla (a state we might already be at). On first blush, the dynamics are different for gamblers and gamers but there are some great ways for a casino, poker site, or horse racing site to sell that they might be able to better utilize than anybody else.
Talk about an impulse buy… when is a person more readily willing to frivolously spend money than just after he’s won some. A pop-up saying congratulations after a won bet (or tournament or poker or blackjack session) with a link to an Avatar improvement or the offer to upgrade and more personalize a profile with virtual status talismans could be seized upon.
Poker players like to be “balla” and show off new found wealth and bling. Why wouldn’t they like to do that with virtual products as well. $10 for a virtual rolex—why not? For that matter $1000 for a virtual diamond encrusted necklace with sparkle—why not—especially for today’s young high stakes players. Actually, the more I think about this idea, the more I’m starting to change my opinion. Maybe with the right bit of marketing this could be a huge growth industry within the online poker and gambling industry.