Saturday May 26, 2012 : MGM PARTNER EXPANDS ON SOCIAL GAMING PLANS
Playstudios going live on Facebook in first beta phase
The recent disclosure that Las Vegas land gambling giant MGM International Resorts is involved in social gaming start-up Playstudios founded by former Wynn exec Andrew Pascal has been fleshed out through an article this week on the investment publication Venturebeat.
The article reveals that ace casino game designer Nicholas Koenig is also involved in the start-up, and that MGM's role is largely marketing-oriented.
“The idea is to capture the fun and excitement of a Las Vegas weekend,” said Pascal. “Here’s an interesting fact: More people will play slot machines on Facebook this month than visit Las Vegas this year. The profile of the player is very similar — affluent, middle-aged women, with an above-average education.”
Playstudios' myVegas app on Facebook is intended as a social gaming destination, where players enjoy games such as Blackjack or slot machines, earning virtual currency and real rewards such as trips to real-world casinos.
They can also build their own fantasy version of the Las Vegas Strip in a kind of meta-game, Venturebet reports. Users can populate their creation with their friends, clicking on them as they walk down the street to see their stats or the games they’ve played recently.
The high quality app is currently in closed beta testing and will be fully available in the summer, Pascal revealed.
Bet the Farm is just one of the games that will be featured – it's a slot machine with an isometric 3D viewpoint. Another is Lost In Time: Jules Verne, a slot machine where once a user reaches a certain level, a bonus round kicks in where objects hidden in a scene can be discovered for reward.
The Playstudios tie-up with MGM gives that organisation a foothold in the social gaming space, where rivals Caesars Entertainment and IGT have commercial activity ongoing through Playtika and Double Down Interactive respectively.
Pascal told Venturebeat that he believes the social casino game market is a great business, with roughly 65 million of Facebook’s 900 million users already playing casino games on the social network.
“We are focused on virtual currency-based social goods gambling,” Pascal said. “A lot of people are very excited about for-cash gambling as an opportunity. It is an enormous prize when it gets sorted out. Everyone will position themselves for it.”
Working with a company like MGM enables Playstudios to offer loyalty prizes and rewards that include a weekend at MGM Grand, a chance to choose the song for the Fountains of Bellagio show, an intimate dinner at a Wolfgang Puck restaurant and tickets to the latest Cirque du Soleil show.
Pascal started Silicon Gaming to make casino games more fun, and sold the enterprise to IGT in 2005. After that, Pascal returned to Wynn and opened the Wynn and Encore resorts in Las Vegas. At its peak, he ran a business that had 14,000 employees and $1.4 billion in revenues before starting Wagerworks in Europe, where a more progressive attitude to online gambling was developing.
Wagerworks was eventually acquired by IGT, too.
In 2010 Pascal left Wagerworks and explored social gaming possibilities, leading to his Playstudios venture, which was initially disguised under the brand Incubet.
The company has 30 employees at present, and has the exclusive social and mobile gaming rights for big Las Vegas properties, including ARIA, Bellagio, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, The Mirage, Monte Carlo, New York-New York, Luxor, Excalibur, and Circus Circus.
Bill Hornbuckle, MGM Resorts International’s chief marketing officer, said, “We have actively watched the explosion of the social gaming landscape and evaluated the options for extending our brands through these increasingly important channels.
“In partnership with Playstudios, we have created a platform that will engage and entertain existing MGM Resorts customers, attract new ones, and allow us to strengthen our brands in a new and relevant fashion.”