Real-Money Pac-Man, Tetris Social Gaming Arcade Now Available On iOS

Posted By Will Green on October 17, 2016 - Last Updated on January 22, 2018
[toc]A new social gaming app that licenses familiar titles like Tetris, Scrabble and Pac-Man and allows players to win real money is now available for download on iOS for iPads and iPhones.

Sparcade, the free-to-play, free-to-download app from GSN Games, features traditional arcade skill-games in the convenience of your smartphone.

The social gaming platform is the product of a nearly three-year development effort, and officially launched earlier this month.

Sparcade’s senior VP and general manager Greg Canessa said the app leverages growth in the mobile gaming market, while also tapping into the growing enthusiasm around competitive video gaming.

Arcade meets mobile app

Sparcade features five titles altogether, and also includes Wheel Of Fortune, as well as a Solitaire game developed in-house. It plans to roll out additional games in the coming months.

Users are prompted select an avatar from a menu of hip, millennial-looking creatures, and either challenge friends and acquaintances to various games or be matched up against other players online.

New users receive 10,000 “tokens” upon signing up as a welcome gift.

Users acquire tokens based on three factors

  • Volume of play
  • Winning token matches against opponents
  • Achieving various in-game and in-app performance goals

Users must spend tokens to play practice games, which train them for real-money contests. Tokens are not redeemable for real money or redeemable for entry in real-money contests.

Once players spend all of their daily allotment of tokens, or play 35 practice games in the same title, they’re cut off from playing non-real-money matches within that title. 

The more users play, the more “Fans” they acquire through “Fan Mail.” Fan Mail earns players either a one-time amount of tokens, a “Fan” that pays them tokens daily, or “Fame” rating points.

Similarly, the more a user plays, the higher Fame rating they receive, graded on a level of 1-100. The higher someone’s Fame level, the higher the complimentary daily payout of tokens to that player.

Unlocking various in-game achievements allows users to attain different statuses, such as “Sparcade Pioneer,” “Ace,” and “Hero.” Obtaining these titles award players even more tokens and Fan Mail.

Real-money and virtual currency entry fees

The game offers a variety of different entry formats based on players’ available balance and skill level.

In Pac-Man, for example, players can enter $1 tournaments with two other players, or $3 tournaments with one other player. If users challenge a friend to a game, they can up the entry to $5.

A 200 token four-player tournament, 1000 token three-player tournament, and 5,000 and 20,000 two-player tournaments are also available for practice matches.

Sparcade takes a 15 percent cut of every total prize pool across all game formats in all titles.

Time (ET)GameSpreadLineTotalLineMoneyline
8:20 p.m. (Thurs)Atlanta Falcons
Philadelphia Eagles
-1
+1
-110
-105
O44.5
U44.5
-115
-105
-106
-106
1 p.m. (Sunday)Tampa Bay Buccaneers
New Orleans Saints
+9.5
-9.5
-110
-110
O49.5
U49.5
-110
-110
-440
+360
1 p.m.Jacksonville Jaguars
New York Giants
-3
+3
-115
+100
O43.5
U43.5
+100
-120
-156
+140
1 p.m.Buffalo Bills
Baltimore Ravens
+7.5
-7.5
-120
+100
O40.5
U40.5
-110
-110
+280
-330
1 p.m.Cincinnati Bengals
Indianapolis Colts
+2.5
-2.5
+100
-120
O48.5
U48.5
-110
-110
+126
-142
1 p.m.San Francisco 49ers
Minnesota Vikings
+6.5
-6.5
-115
-105
O46
U46
-110
-110
+225
-260
1 p.m.Pittsburgh Steelers
Cleveland Browns
-4
+4
-115
-105
O44
U44
-110
-110
-220
+190
1 p.m.Houston Texans
New England Patriots
+6
-6
-110
+110
O50.5
U50.5
-110
-110
+225
-260
1 p.m.Tennessee Titans
Miami Dolphins
-1
+1
-110
-110
O45
U45
-110
-110
-114
+100
4:05 p.m.Kansas City Chiefs
Los Angeles Chargers
+3.5
-3.5
-120
+105
O48
U48
-110
-110
+162
-182
4:25 p.m.Washington Redskins
Arizona Cardinals
+1
-1
-110
-110
O44
U44
+105
-115
+100
-112
4:25 p.m.Dallas Cowboys
Carolina Panthers
+3
-3
-125
+105
O42.5
U42.5
-105
-115
+124
-138
4.25 p.m.Seattle Seahawks
Denver Broncos
+3
-3
-110
-110
O42.5
U42.5
+110
-110
+132
-148
8:20 p.m.Chicago Bears
Green Bay Packers
+7.5
-7.5
-120
+100
O47
U47
-110
-110
+270
-330
7:10 p.m. (Monday)New York Jets
Detroit Lions
+6.5
-6.5
-110
-110
O45
U45
-110
-110
+240
-280
10:10 p.m. (Monday)Los Angeles Rams
Oakland Raiders
-4
+4
-110
-110
O49
U49
-105
-115
-205
+178

Restrictions on real-money game play

Users can play Sparcade games for real money in 36 states. This is reflective of the national patchwork of state-based laws that govern skill gaming.

First-person player games, like the ones offered by Sparcade, are generally considered games of skill because they involve the user staking either real money or tokens on their own in-game performance.

As regulators see it, this contrasts with a matter of chance, such as betting on the outcome of a third-person sporting event.

In some states, though, it’s a different story. Two states (Indiana and Maine) allow real-money gameplay in all games except Solitaire.

The remaining 12 states in the US do not currently allow real-money game play, and instead only allow free practice matches.

Those states are:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Montana
  • South Carolina 
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee

Canadians of at least 18 years of age may also play for real-money games as long as they are not residents of Quebec. A bill passed in May in that province mandated that internet service providers ban access to all real-money gaming sites other than the provincial lottery corporation.

Sparcade makes users confirm that they are over 18, and enables geolocation technology to ensure users are in the jurisdiction they claim to be in. 

Users can deposit real money via either PayPal or credit card. Withdrawals are only processed by PayPal or by check.

The symbiosis, and separation, between $USD and tokens

Sparcade’s use of dual currencies for entry fees ($USD and tokens) strikes a unique balance between the real and virtual worlds.

Like other social gaming and video gaming developers, Sparcade’s tokens have no monetary value and cannot be sold for $USD.

Users never own tokens outright. They only have a limited revocable license to use them.

But unlike many other games’ use of virtual currencies, Sparcade tokens cannot be bought for real-world money, either.

Thus, not only is convertibility of tokens to real-world dollars impossible, but so too is their purchase, eliminating all connection between tokens and $USD. This is despite fact that both are used (separately) as concurrent forms of entry in the same games.

Because the game is a skill-based game, and thus legal to bet real-money on, the only in-app purchases are real-money deposits themselves. Only bets can be made with real money. Virtual items cannot be purchased.

This could help shield Sparcade from legal vulnerability.

[show-table name=betway]

Preventing secondary currency markets

Several who have felt wronged by games utilizing virtual currency have recently brought suit against game makers, including in the the Gears Of War-related case Mason v. Machine Zone, and the recent class-action suit against Valve Corp. regarding the use of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive skins.

Plaintiffs in those cases have argued either that the virtual currencies from those games are redeemable for a real-world value, or are purchasable with real-world money.

Furthermore, they have brought to light the growing trend of unauthorized third-party markets facilitating the buying and selling of virtual items for $USD.

Concerns have been raised by users of not only CS:GO and GoW, but also EA Sports’ suite of sports video games FIFA and Madden.

Users of online virtual casinos in Washington (Big Fish Casino, Inc.) and Illinois (Double Down Interactive LLC) have also brought suit against companies that either allow the real-money purchase of virtual goods, or whose goods are exploited by others on real-money third-party marketplaces.

Since Sparcade’s tokens cannot gain players access to real-money matches, and since the only prize winnable in token-based games are more tokens, the game is likely well-insulated from the development of these marketplaces.

Nonetheless, ensuring that the use of it virtual currency is restricted to within the app itself, and actively combatting the development of any outside marketplace for its virtual goods, should only help Sparcade in the long run.   

Image credit: Tinxi / Shutterstock.com

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