Psydian Interactive recently launched MyBookie, a new sports betting game, for Facebook and Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 7 OS. Though not a true gambling app, the title plays with the bookie concept and has a game-like interface, combining sports betting with Vegas to offer many ways to bet your virtual bottom dollar.
MyBookie takes virtual bets for many of the most popular sports in the US. You can review the complete schedule of NFL, NCAA Football, NBA, NCAA Basketball, NHL, and MLB games — both upcoming or finished (complete with scores). It even works as nice sports guide for game times (especially for the mobile version).
You start out with a small chunk of change — only $200. Betting is the obvious way of earning more money, but there are several different methods: Spread, MoneyLine, Over/Under, or Parlay.
Spread is one that most bettors will find familiar. This is a bet for a favored team winning by a specified point spread, or wagering that the underdog’s score will come within a given range of the favored team. MoneyLine is a straight up or down bet based on set odds. Over/Under is a bet on whether the combined points of both teams will be higher or lower than a total point value. Finally, Parlay is a combination of any of these three bets across multiple games.
If you’re not a seasoned sports gambler, this all might seem like a lot of new information to learn, but MyBookie does try to make it all user friendly. With visuals that are more game like than some apps in this genre, which can feel like spreadsheets, and simple radio button choices, the game is actually fun to learn.
It also offers “Favors” to make betting even more interesting. Each day that you log in, you not only receive a little bit of bonus cash, but a virtual currency called “Reputation Chips.” Once you have accrued at least 25, you can call in one of two Favors. The first is a bonus of 25 percent to your bet should you win, while the second is a 25 percent insurance should you lose. These Favors can be increased up to 50 percent with 50 chips.
You can earn bonuses through social mechanics too. Though not terribly extravagant, by allowing MyBookie to post your bets to your wall, you will automatically gain 10 percent on any winnings. Unfortunately, this is the extent of the social elements. There are leaderboards based on how much money players have, but overall there’s a distinct disconnect from other users.
The lack of social interaction is a problem with MyBookie and most other betting games. Gambling is gratifying on two levels. The fiscal reward is obvious, but in Facebook games, where real money isn’t involved, the social aspect of betting needs to come through. Friends make bets on sports all the time, but the fun is not only winning against them, but taking a little bit of their money as well. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case with MyBookie.
This may be a reason why sport betting games usually don’t do well on social networks. At least with poker-based games, you are betting your skill against other users in real-time. Granted, betting on sports does require some knowledge, but betting for betting’s sake just isn’t all that rewarding, even if the game seems well made. And on Facebook, other than a handful of poker apps (e.g. Texas Hold’Em Poker from Zynga), even socially complete gambling titles have never done very well.
All that said, MyBookie is a decent — albeit simple — game. But without some true competitive reward from good social features, it may strike players as more repetitive than addicting.