Author: Kim Lund

Beyond the skill gap – Making big edges work

How do have the cake and eat it too? That is a question all people involved with player-vs-player skill games that feature a wagering element (such as online poker and daily fantasy sports) have to ask themselves. The more skill the more appealing the game is to competitively inclined hardcore players. The less skill the more accommodating it is to players who predominately play recreationally and don’t want to or can do the upmost to maximize their chances of winning. It’s fine balancing act made even more complex by factors like the need to stay within certain boundaries in order to avoid (or abide by) regulation. In recent weeks DFS has come under fire in the US both for sharing so many characteristics with luck-based (from a regulatory perspective) and illegal sports betting and, at the same time, for offering too big an edge to a small minority of predatory players.This is an ugly little pincer trap. Veer to the left and you smash into the anti-gambling lobby. Veer to the right and you risk ruining the fundamentals of your business as disillusioned depositing players depart. The way out? Don’t worry so much about how big the edge in your game might be. Worry about how it is served, presented and felt. In the past I have argued that concerns over a growing skill gap in online poker are...

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Is it possible to compete with DraftKings and FanDuel?

This is of the most competently argued and insightful articles about the current state of Daily Fantasy Sports industry that I have ever read. It was written by Chicago Ventures Senior Associate and long-time Daily Fantasy Sports investor Ezra Galston – someone who clearly knows this space far better than I do. That’s why it’s with humble ambitions that I, for the sake of getting a better grasp of the vertical myself, will spend a couple of hundred words disagreeing with him. I have never met Ezra, but after getting wind of the fact that I’ve expressed frustration over some of the arguments brought forth in his article, he asked me to elaborate. In short, Ezra argues that DFS has already been won because: ”….nearly every entrepreneur I’ve spoken to in the space gravely underestimates the liquidity advantage of existing incumbents. In betting markets, liquidity is simply everything. Much like traditional marketplaces, where suppliers need to see real economic returns to justify becoming power users, betting markets are a VIP driven business where the sharks need to be able to earn a living to drive volume on the platform.” Liquidity is king. All hail the king. The reasons I disagree with his conclusion are: 1. I do not believe ”power users” drive DFS businesses longterm 2. Online poker and DFS are richer experiences than betting. The advantages of game liquidity is...

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What makes Daily Fantasy Sports fun to play?

My debut post about the DFS industry and how the challenges it faces are similar to poker’s ongoing struggles covered a lot of ground. In this next installment I’ll dig a bit deeper and share some thoughts on  the mechanics that actually make DFS fun to play – minus the obvious allure of being able to win money – and how to innovate the experience. But first a disclaimer. Game design is an art form. An established art form that has been extensively studied. I am schooled in very little of it and am by no means an academic authority on the subject. I advice anyone interested in this topic to read up. Books like Raph Koster’s Theory of Fun in Game Design, Daniel Pink’s Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us and pretty much anything published online by Tadhg Kelly (@tiedtiger) over the years is a good start. End of disclaimer. In a great comment to my initial piece twitter nick @DFTalkForum wrote the following on dailyfantasytalk.com: ”I think a lot of outsiders underestimate the entertainment value of putting together a lineup.” ”It was the need to dive into the numbers for fun that pulled me into DFS — much more so than the hokey ads or the chance to win a million bucks.” I am an outsider. And I don’t know the DFS experience that well yet....

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Will the DFS industry repeat online poker’s mistake?

There was really ever one way I’d find myself involved with US Daily Fantasy Sports. My knowledge of American Football is on the level of knowing who Dan Marino is because of Pet Detective. I do watch every Superbowl, but it’s not always because of the crushing late broadcasting times over here in Europe that I fall asleep. And I am yet to sit through an entire baseball game. I’m a total sport junkie for sure. But no one was ever going to call upon my services due to my moneyballing abilities. I do, however, know a thing or two about operating skill-based multiplayer games with real money stakes. And considering the many interesting similarities (and differences) between DFS and “my” game online poker it was probably inevitable that I’d eventually get involved. So I figured it was time I wrote something about it.  First off it is important to note that I’m very impressed by how the DFS companies have grabbed the opportunity granted to them by the UIGEA exemption and run with it. Stellar work. Although still only in its first or second wave of growth, DFS, as an industry, is already established in ways poker wasn’t even close to at a comparative point in time (if at all ever). But alarm bells are ringing and some people are questioning if DFS companies are on the right track. From the sidelines it appears to...

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The case for competitive free-to-play poker – a comparative study of online poker vs leading competitive f2p games

Recently the poker innovation start-up I am currently devoting my time to revealed itself to the world.  In short, we are focusing on innovating poker in a way that is inspired by other strategy game genres and that adapts online poker to e-sports. Our main product is the highly competitive Free-to-play (FTP) tournament poker game Hands of Victory. Thanks to feedback from people who have been gracious enough to go through our material, we know that the market opportunity we have spotted will likely be met with raised eyebrows by people not so familiar with the rest of the games industry. So to get ahead of the game, I am publishing this revenue generation and player engagement capacity study that compares online poker, real money and F2P, to leading competitive free-to-play games. Hopefully it answers some of the instinctive questions people are likely to raise. Poker is slowly losing out The hypothesis behind why our start-up even exists is that poker’s stunted growth is not only a result of it running out of regulated (or grey) markets in which it can rely on its core, computer savvy, young and competitively inclined demographics to drive growth. On top of that, it is failing to connect properly with its core demographic in existing markets. By not catering to the needs of the modern competitive gamer, online poker is slowly losing out.  That is what we want to...

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