Virtually Sports Cricket

Virtually Sports: One million in-play events in 2023

Virtually Sports was founded in 2021 with a mission to create unique virtual betting games. The company is now ready to launch its initial games, including a suite of in-play titles. We spoke to CEO Mark Israney about the games and the business. 

SBC: What makes your new in-play games different to standard virtuals, and how do they work?

Mark Israney: If virtuals were designed to fill the gap between sports betting and gaming, we fill the gap between sports betting and virtuals. 

Our games are designed to be as similar as possible to real in-play betting events and, therefore, to provide a real in-play betting experience to customers. Indeed, we believe our games belong in the in-play section of our clients’ sites, not behind the virtuals tab. 

Games have a similar duration to their real equivalents. We support a wide range of markets, we support cash-out, live stats are published, and visualisations are designed to be similar to those that bookmakers typically offer for real sports.

The widgets embedded in this article show what customers will see across two of our sports [note, these demo widgets are interactive, but are not connected to live servers, so some data is static]. Through our understanding of how in-play bettors engage with the product, we chose to offer simpler visualisations than standard short-format virtuals. 

We don’t expect customers to dwell on one game for the entire duration, but to navigate between games. So they need a quick, data-driven view of the action. 

All games are driven by our certified RNG (similar to what is used in standard virtuals or online casino or slot games). We slice our games into 30-second segments, and RNG calls determine the result of each segment at the appropriate time. Our proprietary algorithms then update probabilities/odds for a wide range of markets based on those RNG results and upcoming segment probabilities.

There is no ambiguity over how our odds are derived or how our games work. Our method is transparent and provable, fair to customers, and our clients are certain to achieve margins in line with RTP settings (on single bets) over time.

SBC: Can you tell us more about that number of one million events?

MI: We could actually supply more than that, there really is no limit. We see the main benefit of the product to be the availability of in-play events on popular sports, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

However, while it’s a good headline, we actually expect clients to use us to fill quieter periods in the real sport calendar – overnight (GMT), early in the week, or when specific sports are out of season.

We currently have three sports live (soccer, ice hockey and cricket) with three more to launch very soon (tennis, US football and handball). Within each sport, we use a league format where all events within a league start concurrently, which we believe will help to influence betting on multiples. 

Assuming five leagues are running for each sport, with a reasonable gap between each round of games, we get to just over one million total events in the year.

SBC: Can you tell us more about how you work with clients to offer tailored solutions?

MI: Everything within our games can be customised. That includes league names, team names, team logos, scheduling of events, the markets that are offered, when markets are suspended, the margin/RTP applied per market, and in-game branding.

As mentioned above, we feel the games should sit within the in-play section of a client’s product, so we expect to design widgets to reflect the theme of each client’s site.

Our front-ends are embedded as JavaScript widgets, and all game data (odds, suspension messages, settlement messages) are delivered via JSON.

While we have started with six sports, we will happily consider others on request.

SBC: Can you tell us a bit more about the company?

MI: When I started this journey in 2021, the strategy was simply to develop virtual betting games that were clearly different to what was already in the market. I didn’t believe it was realistic to try to compete with some of the major virtuals suppliers on the quality of graphics and animations alone, and the industry really didn’t need another virtuals supplier doing the same old thing. So innovation was, and still is, key.

Two years later, I have hired a great team of talented and creative developers, artists and animators. We have a suite of in-play games as described above, and we are close to launching our first VR game – a single-over cricket game that can be seen through this video:

We also have another R&D project simmering along which we hope to launch later in the year.

SBC: What is the largest challenge you face in 2023?

MI: We have been in pure development mode for the last two years, which has been challenging at times, but really quite enjoyable. This year will see us move into a new phase of the business, where we become more visible and bring on some new clients.

I am expecting some challenges navigating some licensing processes, given the complexity of the mechanics within our in-play games, but feel well prepared to explain how everything works.

SBC: Finally, what has been the most enjoyable part of the last two years for you personally?

MI: All the people who have joined the business over the last two years have been a genuine pleasure to work with. Their enthusiasm, coupled with their undoubted talent, has enabled us to achieve so much in that time.

In terms of actual games, the first use of our very first VR prototype was a great moment for me. And, given the complexity of the game, the development of our in-play US football game is probably the most fun I’ve had!

* To find out more about Virtually Sports and its games, contact Mark at [email protected].

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