Mobile and Social Bingo Ready for BoomPublished March 1, 2013 by OCR Editor
Bingo has moved beyond the parlors and even the days of playing via your desktop×¥
Mobile and social bingo are benefiting from the latest mobile trends, and look set to overtake not only their land-based counterpart but also online bingo gaming, a new brochure by Bullet Business shows.
The brochure polls three expert speakers ahead of the firm's Online Bingo Summit in London this May: Phil Fraser, summit chair, Clair Osborne, Mecca Bingo head of digital operations, and Aiden Shortt, a long-time interactive gambling consultant.
Shift to Mobile
It has taken the bingo industry a long time to pick up on mobile, according to Osborne. But she says that now that the products are out there, they are "doing a good job of offering a good alternative to online." Giving the example of her own company, she said that up to half of people playing on Mecca's mobile bingo app have registered on mobile and play exclusively through their phones.
Shortt agreed that mobile bingo had taken its time, but said there was a reason for that: bingo is driven by community and chat, and smartphones don't really lend themselves to that. However, there is a silver lining in the form of tablets, he said: "not necessarily the iPad, which maybe isn't right for the average bingo players," but the cheaper devices, which will provide chat and the full experience.
Like his colleagues, Fraser agreed that that mobile bingo has technical issues it needs to overcome. But he too was positive on the whole, saying that most sites are seeing more traffic via more mobile, and therefore they will have to deliver a product people will want to keep playing. He also agreed that tablets would perform better than smartphones in providing the social aspect that bingoheads crave.
Growth of Social Bingo
Online bingo and social gaming will eventually converge more than, say, online poker and social gaming, according to Shortt. He says this is because bingo is all about the relationships, with or without the cash. Pointing out that there are already good social games like 888 and Bingo Friendzy, he says someone will eventually create the "game-changer."
Osborne takes the opposite approach, explaining that social media and social gaming are "quite different things." While social media has been great for Mecca in building a base of customers, she says the industry has a long way to go before transposing the fun of a traditional gambling bingo format into a social gaming format.
Fraser says the challenge for the online bingo industry is to monetize social bingo, which is often free-to-play. He sees an opportunity here, but says the industry has to get involved and work together with social networks like Facebook.
How will Operators Monetize Social and Mobile Bingo?
Bingo could be a good fit for a real-money game product with social hooks, such as "some kind of hybrid" between social and real-money games, Shortt says. He points out that with gaming in general, it's normal to monetise only 2 percent of your entire social user-base, and therefore companies need to accept that a lot of people won't spend.
The problem most players have with games on Facebook, Fraser says, is that they can't withdraw their money. With the launch of pay-to-play games on the social network, several operators have now turned to the usual online bingo business model, and this may be the way to go, he concludes.Osborne says that mobile is not the problem, as it works similar to online. But, she adds, "Social gaming is a different kettle of fish." She explains that it's about finding the right ways to get customers to pay and play, and stopping once one of the methods appears to attract them.