WebSummit report: Online Entertainment and Gaming Panel

That’s not actually the title for this panel, but with Betfair and King.com talking to Charles Arthur from the Guardian, this is where the conversation is going. Now we are always interested to hear about people’s business models and with the scale of the user population that these sites attract (King.com has nearly 80 million users for one of their most popular games) means that micropayments is a very viable model.

You may think of games companies as emphemeral, but these are also very long lived businesses, both of which are over a decade old. Charles asks both of them to reflect on the biggest challenges they have seen. For King.com, making the leap to Facebook and mobile, beating off competition such as Zynga and Angry Birds has been a massive challenge, but they kept close to their core of casual, socially enabled games and now have some of the most popular games on both channels.

Betfair is also living through interesting times, so what’s their survival lesson. Again, the key thing seems to be knowing what you’re all about and what you mean to customers, although that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be open to taking a few short term gambles. Hence, Betfair is looking at the US market, which is just opening up to online gambling.

So, know your competitive advantage? Yes, Ricardo thinks so, and offers the evidence that King.com is a leading brand across Facebook, computers and mobile devices. The strong community of players provides some virality and automatic word of mouth for King.com, and after a decade of development they have a pool of proven games. The games business is a hit driven business, so their process for proving games is fast and cheap – launch a batch of simpler games and then only add extra levels and functionality to the ones that are hits.