All This talk About Bingo Networks – What’s Going On?
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Well, if you play a lot of online bingo, networks will probably feature highly. Pretty much all the major online bingo sites are part of a network. So what on earth is a bingo network? A bingo network is a group of sites all linked together, that are run using the same software. This means that sites on the same network will usually have a similar feel to them, and will have games that are shared across the network. Think of it as a lot of different entrances to a concert room. All different sizes, shapes, and colour, but they all lead to the main stage. So if you play on one particular site and like the games on it but fancy a change, there is no real point choosing another site on the same network as most of the games will be the same. Join another networked site, and the games will be all new.
Why Do Bingo Sites Use Networks?
The main reason all the major sites give for using a network is that games and promotions can be linked. By linking games across the whole network the number of players is greatly increased. This means that players can be ‘shared’ between sites, and more players means bigger prize pots. This is great for advertising because people are drawn in by the chance of winning a big jackpot. Also promotions and themed games run by a network are very attractive to a lot of players and keep them loyal. Having a stable crop of regular games and promotions that are developed and maintained by the network software provider, allows sites to concentrate on attracting new customers, instead of by themselves having to create a bunch of new games all the time. The other reason that networks are used, and it’s not really spoken about, is that standalone software is expensive, both to buy and to maintain. Software developers and bingo providers alike prefer networked bingo online, it is a strong partnership. For the developers it means they develop once and sell many, then they just have to provide upgrades and support. For bingo providers it means the cost is greatly reduced, and the risks of standing out alone and failing to deliver are gone.
As a Player What Are the Upsides for Me?
Bigger prizes! The size of a Bingo jackpot is usually created by the number of tickets sold, and a percentage of the purchase price goes into the prize pool. The exception being a fixed jackpot game. So by linking sites into an online bingo network the available money for the jackpot is greatly increased. Most networks have their own themed games that are extremely polished and have a great feel to them. So you can still choose which site to play on because you like their loyalty program, style or side games, but have the option of still playing your favorites. For example the popular TV show ‘Deal or no Deal’ has morphed into a bingo game and is run on one of the top bingo networks Virtue Fusion. It seems the bingo version is becoming almost as popular as the show.
Another advantage for players is that, if a site on the same network has a particularly juicy welcome bonus, or standalone promotions, you can sign up for it grab the bonuses and play. It means you will already have a feel for how the site works because it runs the same software. On the flip side of that, if you want a change completely you can choose another network knowing that it will be radically different. By playing on more than one of the top bingo networks you can take advantage of all their different games and promotions.
Are There Any Downsides?
Everything in life has a positive and negative, to one a boon another a pain. By having linked rooms with lots of players the prizes are bigger, but the chances of winning are smaller. The games are much quicker, and for some this really does lessen the playing experience. If this is the case for you, pretty much all the top providers have their own exclusive rooms where the numbers playing are far less. The prizes are smaller but the games last longer. This can be seen as a downside for the site as well, because they have to provide the exclusive games. And that means more expense on the development side. But for them it is a balancing act that is part of the business, they need to keep as many players happy as possible.
Some players do after a while get a bit fed up with the same rooms, and even though sites on the same network might have different lobbies, most of their rooms are the same. For some having to change networks to get a new feel is a pain. The software will be different, and new formats will need to be learned. Basically a process of starting again, which means the whole looking into who offers what bonuses, which linked games look good, etc.
How Many Are There? – Which Are the Top Bingo Networks?
There are many online bingo networks out there, at least double figures. Some are really quite large while others have just a few sites. One of the biggest out there is the Virtue Fusion network containing within its family are some very big names indeed. Vernons, Mecca and Coral are just three very well respected and long established companies that are part of Virtue Fusion. They have great promotions across the board and an easy format to use.
Another top bingo network is Dragonfish/Cassava. Dragonfish claim to be the leading bingo network, and do have their own top names among their lineup including Wink Bingo, 888 ladies and Foxy bingo, all well-known bingo sites. It can get a little confusing though, as not all sites powered by Dragonfish software are part of the main Dragonfish network. There are other networks powered by this software Mandalay Media and United Bingo are two of them. There are even hybrid networks like QTM/Dragonfish that use the software and have many of the main networks rooms, but additionally have their own linked games across their branded sites.
Gamesys network is worth a mention because although it only has a few sites belong to it, three of them are really big, Caesars Bingo, Jackpotjoy and Sun Bingo. This fact allows them to run really big linked jackpots, and unlike other networks these site have a completely different look and feel about them. If you played on Sun and then Jackpotjoy you would think they were on separate networks.
Individuality Within the Crowd
Although sites that belong to a network are very similar in feel, and run the same promotions, there are some things that are exclusive. Most sites run their own customer support teams, and in some cases may be the reason you stick with them over another in the same network. Having a friendly knowledgeable team to answer questions is very important. Another area is the chatroom, and the hosts that run them. While some of the networked rooms have integrated chat, the majority have their own community, and all have site based Moderators or Hosts. These hosts run individual side games and help keep the chatter alive. And of course all the best sites, especially those in the top bingo networks, run exclusive rooms, promotions and side games like slots or scratchcards.
It’s Not Really a New Idea
Linking bingo games to swell the pot is in no way a new idea. Back in the 1960’s right at the start of legal cash bingo, when bingo halls took off in a big way, Mecca developed a linked audio system between all of their halls. For exactly the same reasons linking the games allowed the prizes to be huge. Fur coats, luxury holidays, diamond jewellery and massive cash prizes were the norm, they all had local based games, but at specific times the main jackpots where linked and the public loved it.
The Future of Online Bingo Networks
There is no going back now, networked bingo sites are here to stay. There are some brave new sites with standalone software, and not belonging to a network. They are brave because in the tightly fought arena of online bingo, networks get the lion’s share of business. You have to have something very special to be able to compete with the resources available to the established top bingo networks. So does this mean the game will stagnate? Not at all, there are enough networks out there to keep the competition fierce. Meaning software will have to keep evolving to keep players interested. New and exciting promotions will roll out, and the bingo world will get better and better.