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We all like to predict what will happen next in a game or other event. VersusGame was created to enable fans to place wagers on micro events like which of two musicians will rank higher in the charts by the end of the week.
And today the company is starting a novel referral program for players who invite 10 friends to join VersusGame. For a full year, VersusGame will share 5% of your friends’ winnings. And that amount doesn’t come out of your friends’ winnings. It comes out of VersusGame’s proceeds, which normally is about 12.5% of the total from each player.
John Vitti, CEO of VersusGame, said in an interview with GamesBeat that this kind of novel referral program is a loss leader aimed at giving people a real stake in the success of the platform and their friends. It’s not considered gambling in around 40 states as the games are considered skill-based, as opposed to games of chance.
“The whole genesis is to put real money in real people’s pockets,” said Vitti. “It’s more fun to play with friends. It will help platform bring in friends in a way that is meaningful to the players. We will put our money where our mouth is.”
San Francisco-based VersusGame has raised $12 million, and it has investors among celebrity athletes like NBA star Kevin Durant as well as investors Mark Pincus, Reid Hoffman, and Peter Thiel. And Vitti hinted that later this summer VersusGame will have a TV show on a big network.
“We consume so much content and we become experts at it, and so we find ways to predict what will happen next in everything we do,” he said. “Our mission is that your knowledge should be rewarded. We’re a tribal type of people who want to feel connected.”
How the game works
VersusGame allows its users to win money based on their knowledge and predictions. Users have the ability to find their favorite poll that interests them and vote. The polls must have a specific answer and end on a specific date. They cannot be subjective.
“When was the last time you were watching something and said, ‘Oh, I bet this is gonna happen.’ And then you were rewarded for it?” Vitti said. “You just do that in your subconscious. VersusGame lets you get rewarded for your knowledge. We didn’t want to create new human behavior. We wanted to support what you are already doing.”
Gamers can play for free or use coins to wager on the outcome. If they predict correctly, not only will they gain bragging rights but they’ll have a nice payday. Vitti said these amount to fun microtransactions, but over time, people are having a blast while winning money. The innovative game also provides the opportunity for those chosen to create original games and polls.
“It’s a prediction game where you get rewarded for being right. So we’re letting people predict the outcome of culture, which means different things to all of us,” Vitti said. “We are a mirror reflection of the trends, topics, events, and life. People can come on the platform and play these games for fun and win cool prizes, cash prizes, and play against friends, brands, and celebrities. They can create their own games as well.”
Vitti said there are so many people that sit and guess what’s going to happen in pop culture, sports, and entertainment. They are the ones that keep the world profiting, yet they are not getting paid. Instead, only corporations are winning. VersusGame created the app and incentives to level the playing field. Another avenue where VersusGame makes things fair is with content creators and social media.
Players buy coins on VersusGame and they’re stored in a wallet. They can use them to make a prediction and set up a poll, saying something like Drake is going to rise higher in the charts than another musician by Friday. The poll goes out and you find a matching opponent who wants to make the same wager against you. The winner walks away with $1.75.
“It’s one on one, no pool, no playing against the house,” he said. “It’s a binary result of yes or no.”
Many social media platforms have millions of dollars set aside for creators who use their platforms. On the surface, it may seem like a good thing, but as creators create more content, they actually make less money as a result of the growing platform.
Vitti noted that the reported $1 billion that TikTok has set aside for content creator payouts remains static in spite of the platform’s growth – leaving many creators to share one pot of limited funds.
The 5% referral program
VersusGame’s referral program gives users 5% of profits from their referrals’ winnings. Players who refer friends are rewarded with 5% of their referrals’ winnings. This allows fans to receive compensation even while off the app.
Celebrities and influencers are on the app as a way to connect with fans as well as a way to make money. Some of the celebrities include Noah Beck, Josh Richards, Jason Derulo, and Kevin Durant.
YouTuber Tom Ward said played VersusGame for three months. During that time, he made more money on VersusGame than he received from YouTube in years. That enabled him to leave his full-time job.
The company started about 3.5 years ago. Players are playing by the millions. Retention is around 40%.
“People can be making a lot of money just by inviting friends and playing with friends,” Vitti said. “It’s fun when you play with friends. That helps with retention too.”
Vitti said it isn’t a multi-level marketing pyramid scheme as it only goes up one level, as you can’t collect fees from the friends that your friends recruit. On top of that, the fee doesn’t come out of the winner’s take. The company pays the 5% fee, reducing its usual 12% fee.
This helps the company as it helps recruit more players without incurring been higher user-acquisition fees. Vitti said the more exciting part is that if your friends make a lot of money, you can as well.
“The money can scale up and be more meaningful to the friends,” he said.
The company has 34 people now, and it has doubled since last year. It has previously raised $12 million in seed funding. The company used that money to make its user interface more entertaining for consumers. It also takes advantage of the trend toward user-generated content, as the players create their own polls used for predictions.
“We made it fun and sexy and entertaining,” he said. “This is for the people and by the people because it’s user-generated games.”