What’s the new direction of Fantasy Sports? Many believe that the future of gaming exists in expanding the genre past sports to include everything from politics to reality television. Also, as younger generations mature and adopt fantasy sports gaming, do they really want the same platform, the same design, and the same rewards as our father’s game? Recent trends in fantasy gaming have offered many clues into where this type of gaming is headed. Our attention spans are decreasing, we prefer instant gratification and gaming is turning its ugly social head.
We might have to look the East to understand the new (or should I say, new to us) trends in fantasy gaming. A recent article on Forbes.com covers a company called Fan Te Xi (pronounced fantasy) Technology that has 300,000 monthly users for its Fantasy Basketball leagues. John Tang, the creator of this company, believes he is merely scratching the surface in Asia. "It's about numbers, and Chinese people love numbers. It's also about sports. And Chinese are fanatics when it comes to sports. And it's on the Internet."
The traditional model used in the United that has about 30 million users is not that popular in China. First of all the dominant game in the U.S. for fantasy sports is football which controls 70 percent of the market. The dominant game in China is basketball where Yao Ming and Kobe Bryant are kings. Second in the United States, players usually pick one team and stick with them for the whole season. That type of model is unappealing to the Chinese. They prefer more instant gratification where they can win on a daily basis.
A further look into the direction of fantasy sports might entail taking a look at its goofy cousin, social games. These make-believe farms, fish and pets engage their users daily and the big guys are attracting 20 million players a day. These social games have used and abused social networks and now there are over 80 different types of farm games on Facebook alone.
Let’s face it. These games are fun and the collaborative effort draws many users to the virtual goods industry. Some of the die-hard sport fanatics might not realize how big the virtual-goods industry has grown in the past few years (they are expected to have over $1.6 billion dollars in sales in the year 2010). The viral nature of these games is based on engagement and fun, two important elements that extract man from their caves and force them to be social. Fantasy sports started out as engaging and fun, but somewhere down the road they diverged from these tenets of viral success.
What are the prescriptive powers of these Eastern observations? That’s the million dollar question. All we know is fantasy sports have stayed stagnant for the past ten years and have barely capitalized on the invention of the Internet and social networks. Maybe cute little penguins should invite us to come manage a fantasy basketball team or maybe we can harvest rebounds on a daily basis. Maybe we need more Panda bears. Whatever the change, we need it now and we need to be satisfied right away.