Bunker Mode gamifies sports betting with High Limit Sports

San Francisco-based Bunker Mode is moving into the white-hot sports betting app market with a unique value proposition — to make the experience less daunting and more social.

The company’s first app, High Limit Sports tosses out the complex rules, real money wagers and odds calculations that typically accompany sports betting, replacing them with much simpler game-inspired mechanics that encourage people to bring their pals in for friendly competition.

High Limit Sports players can place virtual currency bets on every major sport in North America, covering from NBA Basketball to CFL Football. The app tracks schedules and posts live score updates to make it easy for players to keep up with their teams and see how their friends are doing. Bringing in more game-inspired elements, High Limit Sports players also level up as they play, unlocking bigger bonuses and earning special collectible chips.

“We definitely made it more of a game,” says Greg Dirrenberger, the company’s co-founder and head of studio. “People want to bet, they want to be engaged in betting. We really want [the app] to be for people who watch March madness — they might not know much about sports, but they want to engage in the games as they’re happening.”

While the sports betting category of mobile apps has exploded in recent months with established companies like William Hill, Betfair, ESPN and startups like Pickmoto and Fanhood trying to establish themselves the space, Bunker Mode thinks that High Limit Sports has the right formula to dominate the market — the game is easy and accessible for those new to sports betting, but still offers a challenge for established fans.

“One of the biggest difficulties with the games out there is that they’re not intuitive enough,” says Bunker Mode co-founder and CEO Matt Pangborn. “You can’t watch the game interact with the app at the same time. Ours is. I can open my phone, hit the app, bet a friend in 15 seconds and immediately make the game more interesting. We think that dynamic of watching it with a friend or a group of people makes the game more fun.”

High Limit Sports monetizes through the sale of chips, offering both regular and premium chips. Regular chips are used for placing bets, and premium chips are used to place extra bets and unlock bonuses. Players can also buy special collectible chips as further monetization track.

High Limit Sports is currently available on iOS, with an Android port coming Soon. Bunker Mode is backed by an undisclosed amount of funding.