Brings New Model to Baseball Season

We’re all familiar with the usual fantasy baseball setup at this point. Whether you’re playing in a draft-style or salary-cap format, you try to collect the best group of players possible and beat whoever else is playing. still asks you to build the best team, but rather than having you draft one at a time against competitors or fill each position without exceeding a “salary” limit, the site presents a slot machine. You click on the virtual lever, and three players come up at random.

The user gets a certain number of spins to fill a lineup, forcing you to decide whether to keep each set of results or take a chance that your next spin will be better.

Peter Wikander says he came up with the idea about three years ago, bringing the concept to fruition for a closed beta test during the 2009 Arizona Fall League season and then an open beta for the recently concluded Olympics.

“ combines the randomness of slot machines with the strategy of fantasy game play to provide a transaction-rich casual fantasy baseball game,” Wikander told “I hope to attract everyone from fantasy baseball veterans to casual baseball fans who feel that a traditional fantasy league is too much for them. is simple and quick enough that you can play on the side, without making a full-time commitment.”

Although baseball is the game Wikander started with and will fully roll out first this year, his Winter Olympics offering garnered some positive attention — including some space in Nando Di Fino’s online Wall Street Journal column. In that version, users spun to acquire a trio of countries for each medal event, with the same spin rules as baseball.

“People really seemed to like doing this with the Olympics, so I think I’ll do that again in 2012,” Wikander said. “RosterSlots is a nice fit for non-standard, special event-type sports that typically have a concentrated event schedule and a good many unknown ‘players,’ so I think there’s an ongoing opportunity for RosterSlots to provide fantasy games for casual and niche sports fans who are drawn to these types of events.”

Key to his concept is the daily schedule of games — such as in special-event setups like the Olympics and the 162-game Major League Baseball season.

Of course, in an industry constantly having to differentiate itself from gambling, the obvious initial red flag with is that it sure looks like gambling. Wikander contends that his model doesn’t fit the existing parameters of gambling and that there is plenty of strategy involved to keep the “fantasy” flag flying.

“In no way does the site operate like a traditional slot machine: There are no odds, no payout, no predetermined winning combinations,” he said. “The slot machine is just a simple, interactive and intuitive platform on which to play out the economies inherent in building a roster. How much of your ‘budget’ do you spend trying to land a superstar? Do you stick with a known entity, or push your luck and risk creating a gap in your lineup? How do you get the most value out of your current assets?”

Increasing the strategy component is the fact that users can trade spin results to others to acquire their unused spins. That’s not exactly the traditional model of fantasy trading, but you’re also not sitting there mindlessly hoping for cherries to show up.

Assuming that Wikander can avoid any gambling-perception issues, the only remaining concern would be building an audience — i.e. giving users a reason to play and keep playing.

Wikander says he doesn’t plan to ever charge for his game and that prizes aren’t currently on the horizon either. He’s hoping to leverage the fantasy player’s love of transactions and build a community that will keep users on board.

In that case, Wikander will likely have to work hard to convince users to bring their friends and family members along to compete. The game is certainly simple enough for anyone to pick up, regardless of their level of fantasy knowledge. With no money or prizes on the line, however, the only allure will lie in beating others.

For that reason, RosterSlots might be ideally suited for short-term events such as the Olympics, professional tennis and extreme sports. That audience will be easier to hold for the duration of a fantasy season. Despite the obvious draw of baseball’s everyday schedule, six months is a long time to hold a consumer’s attention.

Then again, the rise of daily and weekly fantasy games opens up a variety of possibilities for game play here. As with all new concepts in this industry, we’ll see how the audience reacts.


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One Response to “ Brings New Model to Baseball Season”

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