One of the biggest issues facing the Daily Fantasy Sports industry is how operators protect the DFS player ecology of their database. The subject of ecology is one which the online poker industry failed to tackle properly for a long time and many feel was a significant factor in the decline in popularity of online poker.
Here at Fantasy Fives we want to explain what we mean by game ecology and look at what some of the leading Daily Fantasy Sports operators in the UK are doing to protect their ecology.
What does DFS player ecology mean?
The term player ecology is one which poker and daily fantasy players may hear regularly but be unsure of the exact meaning. Although the term is often used interchangeably with player economy, or player ecosystem, we think the easiest way to understand the term is to consider the entire active player base of a Daily Fantasy Sports site as their own ‘player ecology’. This player base will be made up of individuals who have different playing habits, skill levels, experience, and fantasy sports knowledge.
To manage their DFS player ecology, Fantasy Sports sites like need to ensure that the different segments of their player base are catered for and nurtured. Some players will have more game experience and skill than relative newcomers so due to this fact will have a higher propensity to win contests and make money at the expense of the new players. Many of these factors are not directly in the control of the Fantasy sites themselves and they do not want to punish players for being more experienced and skillful than new players, however at the same time they do not want to provide incentives and tools to give these experienced players an even bigger advantage.
Lessons from online poker.
Using the example of poker, many sites treated their biggest raking winning players (sharks) as their top VIPs. These players would often use 3rd party software tools to have an in game advantage over more novice players, and be awarded more generous rakeback deals to focus their play at a particular site. Although in the short term these players could make the poker sites a lot of revenue as they played huge volumes of hands, there was a significant long term cost. Many of these biggest raking players did not make regular deposits to the poker sites as they just played with their winnings, and all the money they won and rake came from smaller more novice players.
New players to the game of online poker lost their deposits quickly and didn’t have the opportunity to develop their skill level and progress to a higher standard. Losing money repeatedly and quickly was unsurprisingly not viewed as an attractive proposition and the ‘player ecology’ of many sites became completely unbalanced with not enough new players that the sites needed to feed the sharks appearing.
Daily Fantasy Sports has faced similar problems with the majority of profits being taken by a very small % of players. In fact, in the first half of the 2015 Major League Baseball season, 91% of DFS player profits were won by just 1.3% of the players (source: Mckinsey.com), showing just how skewed the results can be towards skilled and experienced players . As a result of the experiences of online poker and, many Fantasy Sports sites are trying to better manage their ‘player ecology’ and help new players
What are sites doing to manage their DFS player ecology?
Daily Fantasy Sports operators are very aware of the importance of managing their player ecology and as such have put in place a range of measures and strategies to help maintain their ecology balance. Below is a summary of some of the measures listed by different operators:
FanDuel UK – Ringfencing.
The biggest step FanDuel have taken to ensure a level playing field for UK players is to ringfence the contests available for UK users to play in. This means that UK players will only ever play against other UK players in FanDuel UK Fantasy contests. As the game of Daily Fantasy Sports is so new to users in the UK, there are not players with years of experience, systems and statistics ready to profit immediately meaning a level playing field and healthy starting ecology. Over time, as the more experienced players develop greater skill at the game of DFS in the UK, FanDuel may have to look at other mechanics to manage their ecology but ringfencing is a very strong way of launching with a healthy initial ecology in the UK. You can read more about the impact of FanDuel UK’s ringfencing policy in our article by clicking here.
DraftKings UK – Beginner Contests.
Unlike FanDuel UK, DraftKings UK ‘pool liquidity’, meaning the UK players can play in the same contests as experienced North American players at any sport they like. The positive benefit of this for UK players is that they can play for bigger prizepools and win more cash potentially. The big negative for UK players is they are entering contests against vastly more experienced rivals with a higher skill level. To prevent UK players from getting eaten up by these sharks, DraftKings UK have ‘Beginner Contests’ which have been created specifically to help new players develop their skill level when playing for real money, against opponents with a similar level of experience.
Any DraftKings UK user with 50 or fewer contests in any specific sport may enter a Beginners Contest. This allows users to play in a real money environment and develop their strategy and skill level. The 50 or fewer contest rule means that no matter how much experience a user has in one sport, they can still develop and play in Beginner Contests for other sports. For example, as long as you have played in 50 or fewer MMA contests, you can enter the beginner MMA contests regardless of how many Golf contests you may have entered.
Fantasybet – Flash Mode
Fantasybet have created a unique type of contest on their www.fantasybet.co.uk site by offering Flash mode which limit the amount of preparation and changes players can make to their teams. With Flash Mode at Fantasybet, players only have 3 minutes to pick their team, after which the team is locked and no further changes can be made. If a user hasn’t completed their team within the 3 minute time limit, their side will be completed with a mix of random players so users have to act fast. The great benefit of Flash Mode games is it makes it very difficult for skilled users to make continual changes and tinker with their teams, or be able to prepare fully in advance, adding a larger luck factor to the game than standard contests. Fantasybet currently run a weekly £50 freeroll for players to try their Flash Mode game and you can join in by clicking here.
Other Daily Fantasy Sports Sites.
Unlike DraftKings UK and FanDuel, most other Daily Fantasy Sports sites open to UK players do not have large numbers of existing North American players, meaning there isn’t a requirement for ringfencing. These sites include Mondogoal, Fanaments, PlayON and FanFeud, and although these sites will have a healthy initial player ecology, in the future they will no doubt be looking at other ways to help protect their player ecology.
Many of these sites also offer freeroll competitions to entice players to try and play for real money before committing to depositing. Freerolls are a great way no risk way to try a site and potentially win cash. We aim to keep visitors to Fantasy Fives updated on all the freerolls available so be sure to subscribe for regular updates.