Canada-based Bingo.com, a free bingo site boasting more than 800,000 registered users, last month sold off its skill-based bingo game, opting to leave it in the hands of a software specialist. The company debuted the software less than a year ago.
CYOP Systems International Inc., a technology partner to Bingo.com, has acquired all rights to the game, known as BiG'r Bingo, including the software, the Web site located at www.bigrbingo.com, the BiG'r Bingo trademark and rights and responsibilities to the BiG'r Bingo customer database.
"Bingo.com is in the business of marketing Internet bingo, not of developing software."
Tarrnie Williams, CEO of Bingo.com, said the decision to sell the software was made more out of the interest in developing better skill-based software in the future, something CYOP can handle better than Bingo.com, he said.
In exchange for ownership of BiG'r Bingo, CYOP has agreed to absorb all past and on-going software maintenance charges relating to the game. CYOP, which developed the game's back-end system, has also granted Bingo.com a perpetual worldwide license to operate the game.
"We basically have our cake without having to eat it," Williams said. "Bingo.com is in the business of marketing Internet bingo, not of developing software," he said.
As part of the transition of the software to the CYOP team, Williams said, there will be about a month-long sabbatical, after which the game will return to the site in a new and improved format.
Williams said Bingo.com has been considering its long-term approach since the development process began more than a year ago.
"In order to best implement the skills bingo game, we found that we had to hire a firm to build and launch it for us," he said. "Selling it was always part of the possible plan, we just had to find out which way to go after launching it."
While maintaining ownership of the software, Bingo.com could examine what was and wasn't working and easily make changes during the developmental phase. That phase, Williams said, has passed.
"Rather than continue to be in the business of software development, which we aren't in, we decided to sell it," he said.
Williams said the skilled-based software has value, but only if tapped into with the right resources.
"I have been in the software development business before," he said. "If it had been a billion-dollar money maker, then we probably would have kept it. But like everything, you think you can do it right the first time and you never do. So rather than create a development team to continue to maintain the software, which we would have done had we kept it, we decided to sell it back to the software development group and let them manage it."
Williams said response to the skill-based option was "very good" from players, with the only hiccups in the system coming from Bingo.com's end. He said there were a couple of developmental issues that were either overlooked or underestimated by his group of developers.
"One of the requirements is to have a ranking system involved," he said. "That way you don't have a Tiger Woods playing against a weekend golfer because Tiger Woods would win every time. You have to have rankings to make it work."
Effectively having the rankings with the system wound up costing Bingo.com more capital than Williams initially anticipated.
He also said the ability to design an effective game with a fast download is one of the biggest keys for a successful skills game. He said they tried to offer the game via a Java platform, but it was too slow, so they opted to go with a downloadable application.
"That was another change that had to be made, he said. "But that is what I classify as fine tuning, and CYOP will do a great job with it."
Williams emphasized that the decision to unload the skill-based gaming software was not driven by reduced confidence in the I-gaming sector.
"The initial reaction was very positive, and people seemed to enjoy it," he said. "Given time and proper resources, the skill-based gaming sector for interactive bingo, and all of gaming really, will take off."
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