How Ready is the World for Fantasy Sports?

It’s no secret at this point that there is expansive growth potential for fantasy sports around the world, but we can’t expect everyone to simply pick up immediately on the style of games we’re used.

This week’s Fantasy Sports Trade Association conference in Las Vegas presented several reasons to believe this. Namely …

- Aaron Amic of IPSOS recounted his tale of trying to collect fantasy sports user data in China, only to have multiple iterations of his line of questions fail to be understood by the audience. In addition to the obvious barriers in lingual and cultural differences, some will simply have trouble grasping the concept of “fantasy” as we know it right away.

- learned anecdotally that Chinese gamers present a different set of needs when it comes to entertaining. One attendee who is working within that marketplace told of a culture whose interest will be tough to retain with our usual form of fantasy, which might not offer instant enough gratification.

- Fantasy players in India have reportedly jumped on the concept set forth by Dream11 in its fantasy cricket game, but they stand behind a technological hurdle when it comes to paying for online play. Dream11 owner Harsh Jain said during the conference’s international panel that his country’s system for online credit-card payment has yet to present the level of consumer protection that would allow the public to use it comfortably. That doesn’t impede a free game but is a big and obvious obstacle for any company seeking any level of payment for play. Especially at a time when the micro-transaction model continues to grow in popularity, it’s a problem that we should hope gets fixed.

- An Australian businessman spoke of still needing to explain what “fantasy” is to many potential partners and clients. This is no doubt an issue that has faced fantasy sports proprietors everywhere, yet still a gap that requires a bridge.

- Some popular international sports — cricket and rugby, for example — present sporadic schedules that present challenges in plotting out fantasy games that will hold users’ attention or entice them to return. These sports might have tournaments here and there, as opposed to the continuous seasons that Americans are used to in our major leagues.

Even where fantasy has already begun to emerge, there’s still plenty of room for the style of games to change, grow and expand. did a little research on global fantasy-contest outlets in advance of the aforementioned international panel and found the following results:

- Out of 26 fantasy games/outlets reviewed (international soccer suites for ESPN and Yahoo! that contained 11 total games were counted as two outlets), 21 followed salary cap style.

- Four followed pick-em or predictor formats, with just one using league-based competition.

- Only two of the 26 used pay models, with the rest free to play.

We all know that fantasy can be a fun hobby or pursuit and that it has the power to engage any audience that likes sports. There’s little doubt that fantasy can cater to varying sensibilities in a wide range of cultures. Anyone hoping to be the caterer, however, can’t overlook the potential pitfalls.


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