How can an integrated fantasy vertical bring power and progress to an existing brand? How can fantasy improve acquisition, engagement, and retention for new brands? And why are fantasy games gaining so much attention?
We delve into the world of fantasy iGaming to explore why the younger sibling to sportsbook and casino is one you should keep your eye on!
Fantasy games started in the 80s, didn’t they? Well, no. In fact, the roots of fantasy leagues and competitions go back much further than that.
Around 150 years ago, board games were growing in popularity, and parlour games that friends and families could enjoy together began to grow in number. A few games, like National Pastime, used dice to determine the result of sporting action, such as hitting a ball. Early games were based on popular sports in America at the time, including baseball, American football, and golf.
People began to compare statistics and create seasons and leagues based on the results, and regular in-person events were set up. The first-ever official league is widely regarded to be the Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League (GOPPPL), which began in 1962 and was held in the home of Bill ‘Wink’ Winkenbach. He partially owned the Oakland Raiders (an American football team).
The popularity expanded into magazines and other publications that could be distributed to many people. Players would send their decisions via mail or, in some cases, over the phone.
With the birth of the internet, the scope for fantasy games grew even more. During the 1990s, online leagues, popups and organisations were created, like the Fantasy Sports & Gaming Association (FSGA), an American organisation that represents the interests of fantasy sports and companies.
The new millennium brought new power to the internet and, in turn, the fantasy gaming possibilities. Daily fantasy sports became widely available, giving players the chance to enjoy even more fantasy fun.
Fantasy iGaming has some way to go before it reaches the dizzy heights of sportsbook or casino levels. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not something to be considered. Recently, the number of iGaming fantasy leagues and games has taken a very positive upturn. More tournaments and leagues are released regularly, covering all sorts of sports.
A survey by the FSGA in 2019 found that almost 46 million people in the US were active players in fantasy sports games. The same study found that 78% of people who played fantasy games also enjoyed betting on sports in real life.
The most popular sport, however, changes from country to country. Americans prefer fantasy American football games (78%), with baseball coming in second place (39%). Rotisserie League Baseball (or roto as it’s sometimes known), a popular fantasy baseball league, is widely enjoyed.
A similar survey in India in 2022 by Statista discovered that cricket was the fantasy game of choice for most players, with 71% of them selecting it as their first choice. This is no surprise to most people considering the popularity of cricket in India. As well as cricket, football and Kabbadi are also enjoyed, with 54% playing football leagues and 6% playing Kabbadi.
From the data found in a survey by Statista 2022 compared to figures of around 130 million from a previous study in 2019, it is estimated that there were approximately 160 million fantasy players in India last year, that’s an approximate growth of 30 million new players between the two surveys.
Football is the most popular sport across many nations. Some places, such as Great Britain, have a solid history of fantasy football leagues, with players who played paper and pen versions when they were younger now enjoying some fun online instead.
Skills and strategy are involved, and healthy competition brings out a person’s competitive streak, as with eSports and board games. The sense of achievement and victory people get when their team does well results from their endeavours.
Their ability grows as players learn to understand the games and interpret the statistics and data. Remembering results from previous games and recalling that knowledge gets the brain’s memory gears into action. Players use analytical skills to assess their game and improve week-on-week.
Monitoring and managing a team and its progress helps players learn more about the practicalities of sports and the management teams' decisions. A deeper understanding of the game rules can add extra value to watching live games in real life.
Many people play fantasy games in leagues with family and friends that they know in person. The camaraderie it builds could help strengthen connections. Families who live apart can stay connected in a new and fun way, bringing them together in an activity they all enjoy.
Many registered charities set up fantasy leagues with tournaments people can pay to join. The proceeds contribute to funding a worthy cause, raising money and providing a fool-good factor simultaneously.
Workplaces use fantasy leagues to improve teamwork and cooperation; discussing plans to improve their team’s skills or planning ahead for future matches opens up dialogue opportunities and could improve reasoning skills. They can also be used as a social event, with colleagues working with one another in a fun team-building exercise.
Fantasy games offer something new and different to the regular sportsbook and casino combinations that are usually on offer. The intrigue of a new and different play style could pique a person’s interest. Some platforms provide exclusive or branded leagues only available at their site, so they benefit from the exclusivity of anyone wanting to try the new game. If they find a popular sport, team, or player in their region, they might attract new players if they combine it with a fantasy game.
How do you know if your favourite team has won the league or your country has won the cup? You check! Fantasy league players have to pop back onto sites regularly to check their results. As competitive leagues are ongoing, they must keep returning to learn the latest updates – excellent for retention!
Many fantasy games are free to play (FTP), so how do they help profits? The 2019 FSGA survey found that many people who enjoy playing fantasy games bet on real-life sports. While players want their fantasy game, they may be more likely to visit the relevant sport in your sportsbook. Also, sport-themed casino games and live game shows might get extra action from their fans.
Sounds good? Many fantasy players would agree! Fantasy games have so much potential. As their popularity rises, expect to see more and more fantasy game options appearing at a site near you soon.
If you’ve never played a fantasy game, why not try one of the free-to-play options just to experience it and get a feel for the types of games other people enjoy safely.
WeAreGame creates fantasy products under the brand WeAreFantasy and specialises in emerging markets. If you would like to find out about how we can help you start your own iGaming business, or expand your current brand with our platform solution and products, get in touch with us at: firstname.lastname@example.org