Bet is a social gaming app. The 1st game is Oscars Pick 'Em.

Inspiration: we still watch the Oscars

It’s not ‘cool’ anymore, but my friends and I still love feature films and we still keep up with awards seasons, which of course culminates in the Oscars. We had a few friends that were fanatics, some going to watch parties or others just staying at home, all of them filling out paper ballots or brackets. The Oscars was set to air on Sunday and we decided to build the app on Friday night, why not?

There are lots of dedicated leagues and platforms that focus on sports and the sport of betting itself. But there are also more casual and social games -- March Madness brackets, fantasy football, even the Bachelor fantasy league. It’s fun to play games with friends and to stake a little of your money, or just pride and reputation on the line. And there are lots of things happening beyond traditional sports, often revolving around culture, that are fun to predict and bet on. 

Design & Product: a social betting event

Compared to build a ‘traditional’ social app, Bet had a few unique elements. For one, we were building it for a single use case to start -- for the 2023 Oscars, a live, one-time event. In a sense, we were creating an interactive, social second screen experience for an event.

We made a few design and UX choices centered about this:

  • Swipe card deck: for each Oscars awards category, we created a card in a swipable card deck. It was interesting to convert what’s largely a IRL verbal or paper-based activity or web-based experience into a social mobile UX. On each card, we included the category, the nominees, a subheading, the bettings odds (from a professional third party), the betting amount, and friends’ predictions.

  • Betting mechanic: we initially thought of determining winners based on number of categories correctly predicted. But, our betting fanatic friends convinced us to add betting at a category level since some were a lot more important or contentious than others. We decided to start every player with a $1000, and we learned how “American odds” and payouts are calculated and made it a core mechanic.

  • Scoreboard: we built a live scoreboard that calculated the betting odds + amount and aggregated across categories so you could see your current “pot” compared to friends.

  • Production: this app had an element of live production since we were running the game alongside a live IRL event. Among other things, we had to lock selections for categories, update each of the categories when winners were announced, and tally winners at the end of the show! I’ve written more about product vs. production here :) 

What Happened / We Learned

The game went well (with a few hitches) and we learned a lot from using it ourselves & with friends! 

  • Just-in-time shipping has its pros and cons. For one, since we built the app in about 36 hours, there were some bugs! The scoreboard mechanic hadn’t been fully implemented by the time the show began, so we made some last minute adjustments and shipped during the show itself :) 

  • Navigation is always key. The swipe card deck could have used better navigation (swipe left to go back, right to go forward, instead of swipe any direction to go forward which was our initially implementation for the sake of speed). 

  • The scoreboard was a big hit. People loved seeing their and their friends’ scores update after each category. People who had more friends had more fun, which raised a related question as to whether there should be a public scoreboard too. There were lots more details we could have shown re: how people bet their $1000 pot, which categories they gained / lost the most on, etc.

  • Weekend project, or more? We got lots of good feedback on the app and the potential to use it for more events or games down the line. Should it become a full-fledged movie awards betting app year-round, expand to other events or sports, or something else?

That's a wrap on the peek behind the curtain for Bet v1, but stay tuned 💜