While those of us who love mobile bingo probably won’t object to Facebook’s new real-cash game called Bingo Friendzy, there are a variety of reasons to doubt that gambling and Facebook will be a match made in heaven.
Under perfect conditions, sure, it would seem like these two are made for each other: online bingo is already quite ‘social’ with its chats, and, most people (including bingo people) are already on Facebook.
Forced to Look At Itself In the Mirror?
The problems surrounding real-cash games include Facebook’s own public profile (do we trust this company yet?) and the reality of its social functions (how closely is it tied to real friendship?) — these are things still being judged by nearly everyone, even as everybody uses it. They are not exactly issues we want distracting us while playing bingo inside the Facebook ecosystem.
Here are some of the hitches as gambling gets socially networked:
- Probably the number-one area of concern is under-aged betting. Facebook is already getting the moral treatment from religious leaders because Bingo Friendzy’s furry animals look designed for kids (bearing a striking resemblance to the Moshi Monsters game).
- The purely commercial cast of Facebook’s move into gambling (taking a 30% cut of each bet, no less) does not jive well with its existing trouble striking a balance between ‘monetizing’ users’ interests while protecting the end-user’s experience and privacy. Many users will not appreciate suddenly getting news of friends’ gambling activities.
- Many bingo-lovers simply may prefer to keep their bingo and their networking in separate realms. On this account, the current online-bingo sites indeed can rejoice that there is some hope of retaining players. Facebook’s Bingo Friendzy may appeal most to newbies and first-timers, or, kids.
If the new Facebook game gets wildly popular, there will be some attrition upon the number of players filling the rooms of established online brands like mFortune Bingo or Ladylucks, but this may be only temporary. No one should doubt the power of bingo’s popularity: that will not diminish.
It very well could be that as people get a taste for it, they’ll want more intense bingo experience possible on dedicated sites, and so their registrations will increase. Also, as experienced players loose their initial buzz from Bingo Friendzy, and perhaps come to recognize the benefits of actual bingo portals, they will probably file back into their favorite rooms again.
Shaking Up the Bingo Establishment
From the opposite direction, Bingo Friendzy probably will deliver living proof of just how important the social aspects of online bingo are. As a result, we’ll see responses to Facebook’s intrusion by the major bingo sites when they accelerate their social-bingo offerings.
Adding social features will be dealt with best by game-makers like Microgaming who license the games, private-label, to various bingo communities. But at the individual website-level, too, many bingo providers will promote more community-building in their own idiosyncratic ways.
The Thing Itself: Bingo Friendzy
Very few peeks are available outside its UK launch zone, but the game’s overall look-and-feel is very childish, yet adorably funny. Mainly, the colors are gaudy (a fantasy world of strange flowers) with cartoon characters that are furry balls with crazy eyes and mouths. Although its bingo may prove robust, and users will put their credit cards on the line to play, Bingo Friendzy will be the biggest hit with those who don’t mind its sophomoric visual atmosphere.
To answer our own question, about whether Facebook-style bingo and other such games will squeeze out online gaming platforms: no, that’s not very likely. Bingo Friendzy will appeal to the less serious sort of players, not those so in love with bingo that they prefer to give it undivided attention at dedicated sites.