In May 2012, European online gambling group bwin.party announced it had set aside $50 million for social game development, with the funding being used to establish a new studio called Win. Today, Win launched its first game, Slots Craze, worldwide for Facebook and iOS. An Android version is coming in the near future.
As its title implies, Slots Craze is a social casino game based around playing slots machines. A quick playthrough reveals a fairly standard slots game with high-quality art, and players are able to play in different setting based on various IP, including one based on Baum’s Wizard of Oz franchise. There are two theme settings available so far (“Casino” and “Adventure”), with a third (“Fairy Tales”) apparently coming soon. We’re told both original and licensed content will be added to the title every few weeks.
The game monetizes through the sale of its coin currency, and it appears that players can only connect and share gifts with their Facebook friends at the moment.
That bwin.party’s move into the social game scene is starting with a slots title isn’t exactly surprising based on the user retention and monetization figures we’ve heard about. What will be interesting to see, though, is how bwin.party attracts players to its new game. One source of traffic the company can direct at Win’s titles will be its massive international online gaming audience. Equally interesting is the possibility that these social and mobile games could be leveraged to incorporate real-money gaming mechanics in the countries where such things are legal (something Betable has been helping other developers work on over the past few months).
Bwin.party’s backing of Win gives the studio some major advantages over most other startups, not just because of the initial capital and accessible user base. Bwin.party has been gaining a healthy amount of attention in recent months due to moves like its announced partnerships with Top Eleven developer Nordeus in September 2012 and Zynga in October. We know Nordeus and bwin are working on a sports-betting game, but Zynga hasn’t revealed details about what will come out of their partnership.