Novomatic: The Potential of Trivia Apps is Anything but Trivial
Business Insider recently reported on a popular new app that launched this past August. The app, described as “a trivia-styled, fast-paced mashup of ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’ and ‘Jeopardy’ for the internet age” is currently only available for iOS users, but it is still one of the most popular apps on the market. The trivia app offers an interactive gameshow-like broadcast twice a day in which any user can participate by answering a series of trivia questions. One incorrect answer results in elimination, but any player who can answer each question correctly wins a portion of the day’s jackpot. The final individual payouts so far have amounted to only a few hundred dollars, depending on the number of winners each round. However, the prizes and the number of players have steadily grown with no sign of slowing.
Of course, gray market lottery and casino games are not new topics in the regulated gaming world, but this is something very different. This app is still new to the market so it remains to be seen whether it will actually develop into a disruptive element for the gaming industry.
First, what would the spread of this game or similar models mean for traditional lottery retail? It’s tempting to think that the differences between traditional lotto and an online trivia app are large enough that they would not compete for players. After all, even if the trivia app develops a more lucrative funding model, it would probably struggle to offer the massive jackpots characteristic of the traditional lottery. But such reasoning overlooks some important similarities between the two products. The trivia app broadcasts only take place at prescheduled times each day, so the game play in this respect is more similar to traditional lotto than, say, an on-demand e-casino. The trivia app is also designed to create a social experience that resembles that of the nightly lotto draw. Friends and family once gathered to watch lotto draws on television, but now the television is being replaced with personal mobile devices, the numbers with trivia questions, and tickets are no longer required at all.
Another question worth considering is: does the trivia app appeal to the same audience as the traditional lottery? Probably not, but that’s also part of the problem. The trivia app caters to the interests of Millennials—a key and challenging demographic for the lottery industry—in a way that lotteries have yet to perfect. The accepted wisdom on how to reach Millennials includes strategies like creating engaging social experiences, offering games that are fun and easy to play, and offering games that balance both skill and luck. While lotteries struggle to do these things, the trivia app achieves all of them with the added advantage that participation costs absolutely nothing!
There are, of course, more questions, but the one the lottery industry must answer now is: what should lotteries do to respond? The answer isn’t entirely clear, but what is clear is the lottery industry must recognize that fast-emerging technologies have the potential to bring about hugely disruptive changes incredibly quickly. The trivia app launched only a few months ago, but today it has over two-hundred thousand users. How many could it have a year from now? And how many might its eventual competitors have two years from now?
It’s not enough to respond to changing conditions, the lottery industry must be able to respond quickly. The challenges of today’s retail environment will require that modern lotteries move toward hardware-independent solutions, open architectures, and API-driven integrations. That means less reliance on terminals and paper tickets and more on mobile devices and apps. It also means an ability to quickly and efficiently integrate third-party games and solutions. For example, any lottery with the right combination of technology and creative thinking could work with existing products like the trivia app to offer additional in-app purchases for larger jackpots, or lotteries could develop their own games that build on the successes of existing models while raising money for good causes.
With open, flexible infrastructures, lotteries will have the tools to approach disruptive trends as opportunities rather than as threats. The tools exist and the opportunities exist, so maybe the real question is: which lotteries will be ready?
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