With engaging games like Grand Slam Superstar, Wheel of Fortune on FanDuel app, Game Taco aiming to grow ‘an audience in really a revolutionary way’

Grand Slam Superstar has a prominent location, tucked in the right corner, when the FanDuel Faceoff app is fully loaded on an iPhone.

As the name implies, Grand Slam Superstar is a skill-based game where the user scores highest by hitting as many grand slams as possible over the course of 90 seconds.

The game is infectious, but the app provides more than idle entertainment; it also allows users to compete against other online competitors for the chance to win cash and other prizes.

Grand Slam Superstar and the well-known Wheel of Fortune are two of the five games available on the Fan Duel Faceoff app. The app is the product of an agreement between online gaming company FanDuel and Game Taco, a skill-based tournament gaming platform acquired by Platinum Equity more than a year ago.

What was a top reason FanDuel, one of the most recognizable names in the online gaming sector, decided to partner with Game Taco?

The valuable intellectual property library Game Taco has through it’s Platinum-sponsored acquisition of WorldWinner, a skill-based game pioneer.

“We conducted a multi-year strategic analysis of the game space and found Game Taco was the best platform to provide FanDuel with both the operational know-how and well-known IP (WorldWinner),” FanDuel Faceoff general manager Aaron Champagne said. “We also were impressed with the growth and innovation mindset of (GameTaco CEO) Josh Barrow.

“During our review, it became clear that Game Taco was the platform that most closely shared FanDuel’s vision of where the game space was going and how FanDuel could best win in this market.”

Available in 32 states, the IOS-based platform allows players to compete through existing FanDuel accounts. The two other games available are King’s Crossing and Block Trail, but more offerings will come.

The multi-year agreement positions Game Taco well because of the access to FanDuel’s legion of daily fantasy sports players, who are inclined to go against competitors in skill-based games with the possibility of winning a little money.

“It allows us access to a massive market that’s highly engaged without doing the traditional paid advertising,” Barrow said. “Part of our strategy is we can strategically do partnerships like this and open up an audience in really a revolutionary way.”

Strategic thinking

The Supreme Court’s 2018 decision to strike down a federal law that banned commercial sports betting in most states was a major boost to the world of online sports gaming. Conventional wisdom at the time said major casino companies were the most well-positioned to capitalize on the change.

That was a false assumption.

“What most people didn’t contemplate is that with daily fantasy sports sites like FanDuel, having developed customers in nearly 40 states at that time, they became the winners,” Game Taco executive chairman and FanDuel board member David Nathanson said. “As soon as the states passed the regulation allowing legalized sports betting, they had a database of customers that were already optimized to bet on sports.”

Shortly before the court’s decision, Barrow founded Game Taco.

“After building and having exits with two companies, I really wanted to do more of a passion play,” Barrow said. “I was inspired by what I saw happening with FanDuel and some other competitors. After doing a little research I learned the distinction between games of skill and games of chance, and the fact that drafting a fantasy team is considered a skill, and therefore not gambling.”

It also means that FanDuel and other fantasy sites already have infrastructure to accommodate real-money competition. But you need engaging games and operational know-how to connect with users and open up skill-gaming. That’s the appeal of Game Taco. Early on, the company struck a deal with Atari for the IP associated with games like Asteroids and Centipede.

As Game Taco was negotiating a deal with FanDuel, it acquired WorldWinner from a subsidiary of Sony Pictures Entertainment. Like Game Taco, WorldWinner offers tournaments for players of all skill levels featuring many of the world’s favorite games, including Wheel of Fortune. WorldWinner is a pioneer in the space.

“In combining the companies, you sort of got the best of both worlds: the most competitive technology and approach to skill games and the longest legacy in skill games,” Nathanson said. “But if you look at other companies in the skill gaming space, the majority of growth is coming through user acquisition.”

So FanDuel provides the customers; Game Taco provides the experience and IP.

Executives are excited about the future because of expected growth in the online gaming space. Few states allow online gaming with games of chance like slots. But the number is expected to grow, which will bring more users to online gaming platforms.

“I believe if we establish the largest database of customers and skill games, what daily fantasy sports was to sports books, skill games, casual mobile skill games will be to iGaming in the future,” Nathanson said. “So we are building, in my opinion, the largest database of high-quality audiences in every state where it’s permissible to play games of skill, because that’s going to give us a huge competitive advantage as the world evolves to eventually allow games of chance.”


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