Interview

Bunker Mode on why its buddy betting game High Limit Sports won't join the real money rush

Bunker Mode on why its buddy betting game High Limit Sports won't join the real money rush
With companies such as Zynga, Glu Mobile and Big Fish hooking up with real money gaming outfits, it's certain that gambling will be one of the big trends in 2013.

But as the rise of casino-style games in the top grossing charts during 2012 has demonstrated, the psychology of spending real money to buy and win in-game currency will also remain a strong option for many who don't want to get involve in the hard stuff.

And it's the social glue of competition - real mate PVP if you like - not the lure of real money riches, that US start up Bunker Mode is looking to maximise as it rolls out its social sport betting games.

Simple, crowing fun

Based in San Francisco, its co-founders combine the best of social gaming - head of studio Greg Dirrenberger worked at CrowdStar - while CEO Matt Pangborn has experience in MMOGs and real money online gaming. Third co-founder Jason Bredice previously worked at Adobe, amongst others.

Its first game is High Limit Sports, an iOS and (as yet) North American-only release which enables friends to wager amongst themselves on the real-time action in sports ranging from NFL and college football, to MLB, NHL and Canadian football. Players can also bet against the house.



"We believe there's a lack of engagement when it comes to social mobile sports games," explains Pangborn.

"We're looking to simplify the mechanics of betting, because you're wagering against your friends, while making use of all the things you'd expect in social games like daily bonuses and levelling up," adds Dirrenberger.

Bottom up

When launching this sort of operation, a lot of work goes into the infrastructure; creating technology that can be used for more and different sports-based games.

"As well as adding new sports within High Limit Sports, we have other titles lined up," Dirrenberger confirms.

"We're building a platform for peer-to-peer games so we can drop in new content, and provide a portfolio for titles for sports fans."

Of course, the precise collection of sports that will work within a single package is likely to be geographically moderated.

There's plenty of real world gambling around cricket, for example, but it's a game that would have to targeted toward the Indian subcontinent as well as different mobile OSes, rather than sitting comfortably within a general iOS US app such as High Limit Sports.

"We want to hit the mass market first and then break out into niches," says Pangborn.

Android devices will be supported in the next couple of months, as Bunker Mode targets a big 2013, with signature events such as the US Super Bowl (February), NCAA's March Madness, the Stanley Cup (June) and NBA Finals (June) underpinning the first six months.

Howdy partner

As for the lure of real money gaming, Pangborn says the closest Bunker Mode will get is partnering up with existing gambling companies.

"There are a lot a complex regulatory issues in terms of holding a gaming licence," he explains. "What's more interesting is the gap those companies have in terms of engaging users, which is where we'd be complimentary."

"I think that would be opportunity for us."

editor-at-large

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon can turn his hand to anything except hand turning. He is editor-at-large at PG.biz which means he can arrive anywhere in the world, acting like a slightly confused uncle looking for the way out. He likes letters, cameras, imaginary numbers and legumes.

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