Social gaming has been a long-standing citizen of the digital gambling environment, with a number of carefully cultivated collaborations worldwide unlocking the prospects of untapped potential across a multitude of industries.

One such example comes the way of social mobile operator KamaGames, whose numerous UFC partnerships, as well as a recent alliance with All Elite Wrestling, are said to have been “highly successful”.

However, Ross Krasner, CEO of San Francisco-based mobile real money tournaments platform Ryu Games, suggests that the social casino market could be in jeopardy.

This, he says, is “due to recent lawsuits with social casino leaders like Big Fish Games”, with it questioned whether such incumbents should consider pivoting to the real money gaming market instead.

This comes a short time after a US District Federal Court approved a settlement agreement between Aristocrat Leisure and plaintiffs that will see the company pay $31m to settle two lawsuits related to its online social gaming platforms.

It was last year revealed that Churchill Downs Incorporated and Aristocrat Leisure had a $155m agreement in principle to settle lawsuits related to the former’s divested Big Fish Games.

The thrill of a cash tournament is powerful”

CDI completed the $990m sale of the Seattle-based developer of social games for desktop and mobile devices to Aristocrat in January 2018, with both parties subsequently unveiling agreements to settle the Kater v Churchill Downs, Inc., and Thimmegowda v Big Fish Games, Inc. lawsuits.

Under the terms of the settlement, a total of $155m would be paid into a settlement fund. CDI would contribute $124m of the settlement from its available cash with Aristocrat to pay $31m.

Krasner talks to CasinoBeats to touch upon the current state of the social casino gaming market, as well as how it contrasts with that of its real-money counterpart: “We’ve seen some upheaval in social casino gaming recently. We’re not experts on the topic, but it’s clear that real money gaming is currently the most popular casino genre.

“Real money gaming is taking a dominant space in the casino category. Just take a look at the App Store’s casino charts — four of the five top games are real money gaming. The concept of RMG is immediately appealing. 

“Unlike social casino games, users can win real money by competing in games of skill. The thrill of a cash tournament is powerful, and it’s clear that users respond to that.”

During recent months, and significantly driven by unavoidable external influences, we’ve seen something of a race from retail to online, Krasner continued by looking at if a similar transition for social incumbents would be a logical step to make.

we’ll begin to see significant partnerships between social casino gaming and real money gaming”

“Social casino has a permanent place in the casino gaming category. Not all users want to participate in a real-money tournament. That said, real money gaming is an excellent opportunity for social incumbents to expand their audience and increase revenue,” he says. 

“Since the RMG space requires a significant capital investment to enter (not to mention legal expertise), we will likely see social casino incumbents partner with existing RMG platforms to minimize risk for new games. 

“With pre existing audiences and art assets, social casino companies have a clear value-add for RMG companies that make partnerships a no-brainer.”

Moving on, Krasner assesses the major pros and cons of each vertical: “Each vertical appeals to an entirely different audience. Social casino generates revenue based on in-app purchases of valueless currency. For example, in a social slots game, you can purchase tokens for slot machines with no real-world value.

“Real money gaming, on the other hand, is directly tied to real-world value. Users deposit money and compete against other users for real money. 

“Some users have no interest in competing for real money. Those users are well suited for social casino games. Those users who enjoy cash tournament competitions are suited for real money gaming.”

To conclude, a tentative glance ahead is given to examine what is in store for social casino gaming: “We’ll begin to see significant partnerships between social casino gaming and real money gaming. 

“These partnerships will contribute to the RMG industry’s health and ultimately make cash-tournament games even more commonplace than they currently are.”