Social gaming has experienced remarkable growth in recent years. When Facebook first launched in 2005, nobody could have predicted that gaming would become such an important part of the social media site. But games like Candy Crush and Farmville have proved a big hit with both male and female players.
However, there have been some criticisms directed at these games for their gambling elements. In today’s blog, we’re going to take a closer look at the relationship between gaming, gambling and social media.
How does social gaming work? Users are given free access to the core version of the game, but requires micro-transactions to unlock in-game content. For example, if a player wishes to skip repetitive aspects of the game or unlock various rewards, they can do so by paying with actual money.
Facebook provides game developers and advertisers with the perfect platform for gaining high-monetizing users. According to statistics released by Facebook, 30% (around 250 million) of its active users play social games.
Following this trend, a growing number of mobile games are including social functionality. This can be anything from a global leaderboard to interaction with other users and Facebook friends.
The latest market research suggests that the number of mobile internet users will continue to grow in the coming years. This will likely lead to a rise in the number of gaming apps being developed for mobile users.
These mobile apps are largely based on the same freemium model concept as the social games we discussed earlier. The games are free to download but offer users the chance to buy virtual currency or points to move onto more advanced levels. Players also have the option to send gifts or rewards to other players by making these in-app purchases.
Clash of Clans is one example of a freemium game that has millions of registered users worldwide.
There are certain rules and regulations in place concerning mobile apps and gambling. For example, mobile apps that offer gambling (e.g. sports betting, poker, casino games) must have the necessary licensing and permissions in the locations where the app is used and must be free on the app store.
However, there are some concerns that in-app purchases blur the lines between eSports.
This week, the UK Gambling Commission has taken the first steps to combat the rising trend of eSports gambling. They have charged two YouTubers with advertising unlawful gambling in what is seen as the first case involving betting on video games.
Both YouTubers have been accused of promoting an online gambling site based around Fifa’s in-game coins to minors. Craig Douglas, who posts videos under the name "NepentheZ" and has more than 123,000 followers, has been charged with advertising unlawful gambling and inviting children to gamble. Dylan Rigby, who owned the now deactivated FUTgalaxy channel, has also been charged for including the provision of facilities for gambling.
This announcement is part of an ongoing investigation into the rise of eSports betting.
There are also plans to ban daytime gambling adverts from social media and television in the UK as part of a crackdown on the industry. New figures show that the number of people with a severe gambling problem has almost doubled in the last three years. It is impossible to rule out social gaming has a key contributor to this unprecedented growth, and it will be very interesting to see how the relationship between gaming and gambling progresses in the coming years.
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