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Skillz shows us the money with cash prize multiplayer tournaments on iOS

Above: Skillz lets you play games for cash prizes.

Image Credit: Skillz

If you think you’re good at games, you can now compete for cash prizes on mobile devices.

Skillz has unveiled its multiplayer cash tournament platform today on Apple’s iOS platform today with more than 150 games available on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch devices.

Skillz said that more than 300 game developers with more than 2,700 games have chosen Skillz as an exclusive partner for cash tournament games. Previously, Skillz was available only on Android. But the new software development kit enables iOS cash competitions in the 37 U.S. states where skill-based games are legal. The remaining states consider it a form of gambling or just haven’t specifically legalized skill gaming for money.

In Skillz-enabled games, the winner is determined by skill, not chance. If you enter a tournament and win, you get the cash prize. You can tap a button to enter multiplayer tournaments. That shifts the player into the Skillz tournament lobby, where the player has to fund an account by depositing money into it. When the player enters a tournament, the account is debited. If they win, they are credited with a prize or mailed a check. Skillz splits the tournament fee with the game developer.

Casey Chafkin, cofounder and chief operating officer of San Francisco-based Skillz, said in an interview with GamesBeat that the company’s community is growing by 10,000 a day.

“We consider this a monetization tool that enhances game play rather than hinders it,” he said. “The games that use us can get five-star reviews that specifically say the monetization strategy is good. People never say that about ads.”

Skillz has 1.5 million accounts, and that number is now doubling each month.

“We’ve been waiting for a platform like Skillz. Now we can offer cash competitions just like offline sports such as golf, rodeos, and marathons,” said Carl Crossley of Touch Mechanics and developer of the hit title Strike! Real Money Bowling. “Not only does Skillz add stickiness to our game, it allows us to move away from intrusive advertising that disrupts our user experience.”

Touch Mechanics has been able to generate 52 cents per average daily active user (a key benchmark in mobile, known as ARPDAU).

Early Skillz partners are generating more than 20 cents in incremental ARPDAU. Some successful games make 5 cents to 10 cents in ARPDAU, but Chafkin said that some partners are making three times that amount in incremental revenue when they implement the Skillz platform. That can make a huge difference in making a mobile game more profitable, and it gives small developers a lot more ammo when it comes to spending money on acquiring new users.

“This is not a trivial amount of revenue,” Chafkin said.

Besides the bowling game, available titles include Mini Golf 3D Putt Putt Game, which has already been downloaded more than 2 million times, and Diamond Strike, a fun and fast paced puzzle matching game. Others include Sushi Chop: Slash 4 Cash by Rogue Rocket; Hardwood Freecell Challenge by Silver Creek Entertainment; Survival Run with Bear Grylls by Floor84 Games; Skate Trash by Boing; Red Revenge by Cyscorpions; Real Money Pool by Coeus Creative; Full Color Solitaire by Full Color Games; and Gnarbike Trials Multiplayer Racer by Gnarly Games.

Skillz was founded by Chafkin and Andrew Paradise, chief executive, in 2012. Both previously worked in mobile payments. They have raised $10.3 million in funding from investors including Atlas Venture. It first launched its cash tournament platform in April 2013. Back then, Skillz had 12 employees. Now it has 30.

Skill-based games could grow more than 350 percent to $9 billion by 2017 in the U.S. alone, according to a report by Frank N. Magid Asscociates.

There are lots of rivals like King, Virgin Gaming (on consoles), GameDuell, and Worldwinner. But Chafkin notes that every competitor has to build its platform from the ground up for mobile.

Chafkin said it takes a matter of hours for developers to integrate Skillz into their games. He said that Skillz checked with Apple before building for iOS, and Skillz emphasized that sustainable monetization is critical for a happy game ecosystem.

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