Couple of Poker Article Related Thoughts...
Read an article recently on whether or not online gambling sites should sell virtual goods. I say yes. The article brought me back to one of my favorite now defunct online poker sites "Let's Poker." Let's Poker offered a little bit of everything from poker (including California Poker), to casino games but no sports book or Horse race betting.
Anyway, one of their ideas in building the site after they had built up a player base was to appeal to gamers transitioning over to poker. Gamers have been very receptive to virtual goods and the thought was they'd be very receptive to a poker experience that was similar to a gaming experience.
Kevin Flood wrote the article that brought these memories back. Read it here.
The influx of poker players from strategy games like the original Starcraft is evidence the guys at Let’s Poker had tapped into an emerging market for the future of poker. The “Internet” kids are no longer the emerging market, they are the market. For all intensive purposes they’ve take the game, through primarily an Internet poker experience to new heights. Those kids start playing at 16, 17, 18 and log hundreds, thousands, and millions of hands.
That begs the question, if the Gamers like virtual goods why wouldn’t they like them on a casino, sports betting, or poker platform. One quasi-virtual good, though in a sense it’s tangible information, would be for a site to offer betting tips. Information goes hand in hand with the experience but rather than the bettors going somewhere else for wager advice why not buy it through a team of experts on the site.
I guess an answer for why it’s not commonly done or sold, is this would put a gambling site at cross purposes. Why try and funnel clients to making the same picks, and if the picks fail, the clients would then become suspicious of the site’s experts and perhaps generate bad will. However, if they were to make it appear that the tips were coming from an outside source, offering multiple outside sources, the second problem could be somewhat alleviated. The first problem of steering their clients to certain bets could run the risk of schewing which side of a line is be more heavily.
Anyway, that was a bit of a tangent. Back to poker, and Let’s Poker specifically… Let’s Poker geared its emerging platform toward gamers and as a way to attract them Let’s Poker was going to be on the leading edge of graphics for avatars and virtual goods for players. Even as an early start up they offered far more variety in avatar choices than many sites do today.
The question is… would that type of model draw in players? Maybe a 16 year old… maybe. However, 16, 17, and 18 year olds are not (explicit) targets for these sites especially one that used to do business in the USA. And even, if graphics lured in the kids I’m not 100% sure it was the kid gamers that were spending real dollars on virtual goods. Many of the virtual economies are done in game platforms that attract adult players, establish large communities, and in a sense become a virtual reality. I don’t have the information on who was spending what but I’d imagine, and I don’t think it’s too large a leap in logic to suggest it, that the larger income base of the older players was responsible for most of the buying and selling of virtual goods.