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FlowPlay on building community-based virtual worlds for social casino and blockchain's integral role in gaming's future

FlowPlay on building community-based virtual worlds for social casino and blockchain's integral role in gaming's future

Seattle-based developer FlowPlay is focused on building a social casino platform that contains a tight community while catering for a wide variety of players.

The company works on Vegas Worlds, a free-to-play social casino that houses an array of games and is played by millions of people around the world.

FlowPlay chief revenue officer Craig Robinson (who will be a speaker at Pocket Gamer Connects Seattle, which takes place on May 13th to 14th) answers a few questions to reveal details about the company's business, its latest moves and why it's harnessing blockchain technology as it builds for the future.

Could you give a brief background about FlowPlay and what the studio's aims are?

Craig Robinson: FlowPlay was built on the foundation of community - both within the company and in its game offerings.

From building immersive virtual worlds to corporate involvement in the greater Seattle area, we aim to continue serving and growing our player community by providing engaging gaming experiences using our own technology and through partnerships with other innovative companies.

Could you tell us a bit about your current flagship games?

Our flagship game Vegas World is a free-to-play, immersive social casino with more than 45 casino-style games including slots, poker, blackjack, bingo, roulette, social sports betting and more.

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Launched in 2012, it is played by millions of people worldwide, many of which have fostered deep connections within the game. Some of these connections have even evolved into real-world relationships and marriages.

One of the biggest attractions about an MMO – and Vegas World specifically – is the ability to help create a community.
Craig Robinson

We also offer a virtual world specifically designed for tween girls. ourWorld provides a supportive and engaging place to socialise and play games, with more than 200 in-world games alongside virtual social hangouts such as dance clubs and coffee shops.

What's the attraction to massively multiplayer online games and what business model do you follow for these? Many have struggled with subscription MMOs, for example.

One of the biggest attractions about an MMO – and Vegas World specifically – is the ability to help create a community. It’s the reason many people join our game, and the meaningful connections they make are why they stick around.

One of our gameplay mechanisms that helps foster connections and makes it fun to socialize in the game is the ability to purchase and share virtual goods. In fact, 90 per cent of our business is the sale of these virtual goods and charms that players love to share with their friends.

This coupled with a multiplayer environment that allows thousands of players to simultaneously chat and play on any platform is what makes our game special. Our approach to community has solidified our game’s success and is why we know it will continue to thrive even amongst industry shakeups.

The genres appear quite different in your projects. Why are you building experiences for such varying player bases?

No two players are the same, so we create a wide variety of games for a wide variety of players. By providing different experiences that cater to many interests, we not only offer unique games for our current audience but also expand our footprint to reach more people.

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An example of this is our social sports betting games, which combine free-to-play mechanics and casual gaming principles with classic sports betting gameplay, including real-time betting and a sportsbook.

From boosting virtual economies and giving developers the necessary control to adapt to an evolving landscape, blockchain will play an integral role in the future of gaming.
Craig Robinson

As the only games company currently providing this type of offering, players are drawn to Vegas World for a risk-free, unique and legal alternative to sports gambling.

Why did you partner with Alto.io and what potential do you see for blockchain in the games space?

We partnered with Alto.io to leverage its blockchain technology for the development of a crypto-currency-based in-game monetisation platform for social games. Since our technology is rooted in loyalty and rewards programs, we saw several key areas of our business that could be enhanced through the Alto.io platform.

From boosting virtual economies and giving developers the necessary control to adapt to an evolving landscape, blockchain will play an integral role in the future of gaming. We will continue to look for new ways to innovate the gaming experience for our community with this and other emerging technology.

In 2017, you transitioned to Haxe. What was the thinking behind that decision and what has been the result of that move?

Thousands of casual games like ours are built on Flash and in danger of vanishing once support for the technology is discontinued in 2020.

With our player community as the priority, we researched and assessed several long-term, cross-platform solutions, including many of today's most popular like Unity and JavaScript/HTML5.

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In that search, we found that Haxe’s robust capabilities proved unmatched for our needs. After nearly two years of transitioning more than one million lines of code to Haxe, we future-proofed our gaming platform.

This has given us the ability to create seamless, platform-agnostic virtual environments where players can connect in real-time regardless of their location, or from which platform the player enters.

Thinking larger picture, we are committed to furthering the development of the Haxe toolkit so other developers can tap into the open source technology, transition away from Flash and contribute to Haxe’s evolution.

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