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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Gaming for Dollars

"Work is for people who can't play video games." - Jillian Wiebe in 'The King of Kong' quoting Billy Mitchell.

So how about it? Can we make a living playing video games? I know a bunch of different companies are working on shoehorning a gambling aspect into gaming. I was going to use Kwari (I've never tried it) as an example of an FPS for cash game but they are apparently not doing too well.

I decided to try out a casual contender:

Please note I have absolutely no relationship with this company and I'm not getting compensated in any way for blogging about them. Well, I'm not even really recommending them so I guess that's obvious.

I signed up and deposited $20. Then it was time to survey the list of games. Now, we're not talking Bioshock or even Shiren the Wanderer here. No, these are decidedly casual games. A modified version of Diner Dash is probably the most flashy.

Before I actually wagered my hard earned ducats I tested out a number of the games. The problem is that, while you can test any game for free, I couldn't figure out how to compare my score with the scores of people playing for real money. So it wasn't until I actually played a real money game that I figured out if I was good (or not...usually not).

I gave up on Bejeweled and the solitaire variants right off the bat. Too many people play those games 24/7 for me to be competitive. I thought I had a shot at Catch-21 because I'd played that type of game quite a bit before. While I was in the ballpark in real money games, I was winning only about 1 in 4. I think I could have improved but it honestly started to feel like work.

I know playing games all day sounds fun but a lot of these start to feel like work after a bit. The whole mentality is different.

I got excited when I saw SkillGammon because I was a tournament level BG player once upon a time (though my cubing was always atrocious). But it turns out that SkillGammon is Backgammon with all the probablility sucked out. And for me that means with all the fun sucked out.

I finally settled on (drumroll please)...Family Feud! I know that sounds crazy but for some reason I'm apparently a good Family Feud player. I think it's the type of game where tons of repetition is not really important but your ability to think quickly is. This version is not the whole game but a quick, modified game.

Well, the point is, when I'm playing 1-on-1 in Feud I actually win 2 out of 3 games (I checked my stats). So should I quit my job? Not exactly.

You see, WorldWinner takes their cut. And it cuts deep. Example using the 2 player game:
Balance: $2.50
Game 1: You enter for $2.50 and win $4.00.
Balance: $4.00
Game 2: You enter for $2.50 and win $4.00
Balance: $5.50
Game 3: You enter for $2.50 and lose.
Balance: $3.00.

So for playing 3 games and winning 2 of them...you're up a whopping 50 cents.

And winning 2 out of 3 is pretty good. There are times you're just going to get unlucky with words you don't know, have a bad game or run up against a super good player. And you can't just beat up on noobs forever, the website does something called FairMatch to put you up against people of equal skill level.

Of course, there are larger tournaments with larger prizes, but I find you run up against truly amazing players.

I've been hanging in there (I'm around $27 now) but I can't seem to make much headway. You do rack up rewards points as well as money which you can use to purchase game credits or other stuff. To be honest, I probably wasted money playing games I'm not good at and entering tourneys I had no hope of winning. But I just think for the number of 2 player games I've won I should be doing a little better.

I would really like to see WorldWinner be a lot more reasonable with their "take" of the action. You do get something of a rush playing for real cash and it's kind of fun to mess around with. But, overall, I think it's a losing proposition.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to say that I've made my own casual game, it's called Smilies Invasion and for me it's frenetic!



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