Founded in 2014 in Sydney, Australia, Royal Wins is a game studio pioneering skill wagering casino games on the web, desktop and mobile devices. The company’s mission is to radically change the way players experience online casinos. Kash Karnival, a skill and chance hybrid gaming hub, fuses the skill of social games with the wagering of online casinos — providing players with the potential to win much more … the better they are. Kash Karnival is available now on Facebook, Android and iOS.
Noticing a gap in the multi-billion dollar online casino market that hasn’t yet capitalized on skill wagering games, our challenge was to create a hybrid gaming experience that is not only entertaining and captivating to a new breed of players, but also immensely rewarding for skilled players. The Royal Wins founders utilized their experiences from a previous successful social online game startup that created a virtual world called The Mojikan — which featured a crazy, wacky “funhouse”: a virtual circus or carnival that players could visit to play games and win real money. It was so popular that they decided to turn this into a full-fledged skill gaming experience; hence Kash Karnival was born.
The thematic and artistic inspiration for Kash Karnival came from travelling circuses, theme parks, the Brazilian Carnival, and attractions containing popular elements that resonate with a wide range of audiences. As such, we studied and borrowed themes, designs and experiences from Tim Burton films such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Nightmare Before Christmas (both of which have a uniquely fun and charming style) — along with skill games such as Candy Crush and Angry Birds (which may be easy to play but certainly tough to master). Into this mix of fun and entertainment, we weaved a casual narrative to contextualize players’ experience and immerse them further into the games.
We decided to initially launch Kash Karnival on Facebook because the social network, with 1 billion active users, already had a large captive audience playing a variety of social casino games and casual skill games (e.g. Candy Crush and other Match 3 games). This would immediately increase our exposure and boost our ability to acquire users interested in betting on their gaming skills. In addition, our key expertise as a Unity developer meant that we could deploy all our games quickly to the browser. As a result, all 14 of our skill and casino hybrid games were released on the Facebook platform by September 2014.
The design of the Kash Karnival gaming hub was deliberately crafted from user data right from the start – to provide a familiar, focused experience to both casual skill gamers and social casino players. As such, the Karnival hub has two distinct areas: the Skill District, to funnel casual skill gamers; and the Adventure Casino, to funnel social casino players. Using a multitude of smart data points, we then constantly create new game mechanics to incentivize players to cross over between the Skill District and Adventure Casino – thereby cultivating a common hybrid user.
From the outset, we have always intended to be a mobile-first company. Commencing with Facebook was a strategic decision to utilize the Facebook community and user data to ultimately fuel our mobile development pipeline. Speed to market is essential to us, and the Android platform was an easy first port from Facebook to mobile. The relative ease and speed of releasing on Google Play made the Android platform more appealing for our first foray into mobile smartphones and tablets.
Porting our 3D web game to a mobile platform came with its fair share of speedbumps. Problems with optimization, file size, file formats, and asset handling across a variety of devices and specifications resulted in many late nights in the office trying to iron out the bugs. Due to the fact that Kash Karnival is a single hub with a multitude of games, we worked very hard to ensure that all games would scale in the most optimized way across different devices. Additionally, a mobile user experience is markedly different to a desktop one. We most certainly did not want to rush a mobile launch simply for the sake of meeting a deadline, with clunky controls and careless craftsmanship – like so many other online casinos out there. As such, we worked tirelessly to take full advantage of the touchscreen feature to create intuitive, user-friendly controls that would appeal to a casual demographic.
We created two Android versions to be compatible with mobile and tablet devices. We were able to include our original Facebook 3D Hub on tablets due to the larger screen, and we designed a sleek new streamlined Hub to suit various screen sizes for mobile devices. Our deployment process initially consisted of manually building and deploying to each version and device type (smartphone or tablet), which was extremely time consuming and error prone. Today, we have built a single deployment system that allows us to immediately build and deploy to all versions and device types simultaneously.
Android taught us many things that benefited our iOS development. Having solved so many issues on the Android platform gave us a head start in porting to iOS. However, iOS came with its own set of technical challenges due to Apple’s high standards in code and application review processes. The need to include both 32- and 64-bit versions of the game in a single app meant two main headaches: First, the app became extremely bloated in size; and second, some of our game code had to be rewritten for these two versions. Compounded by Apple’s infamous lengthy review process, our iOS launch was delayed multiple times.
However, these problems resulted in further improvements in the innovation of our development framework and game engine. We now have improved asset management systems, error handling, streaming data handling, testing and deployment procedures.
Real Item Redemption
One of our favorite features of Kash Karnival is the Kash Store, where players can exchange in-game currency to redeem real item prizes. We wanted to introduce actual rewards for player success.
This feature has been immensely beneficial; our players love the idea of being able to cash in their winnings for real items. No other online social casino has this feature. To date, we process an average of 50 items redeemed each day and shipped to a multitude of countries worldwide.
Kash Karnival on Android and iOS has initially rolled out with 4 games — with a further 11 to be released in the coming months. Together with our Facebook community, we anticipate to expand further on our 150,000+ users, and 50,000 monthly active users. The Royal Wins journey is just beginning its quest for everyone to win differently.