Bonus Q&A: Talking FanDuel Faceoff’s First Year With Aaron Champagne

Earlier this month, FanDuel marked the first anniversary of the debut of Pat McAfee Field Goal Faceoffthe first bespoke sports-themed title for its FanDuel Faceoff skill games platform. The platform itself had launched in March 2022, featuring an array of off-the-shelf titles from FanDuel’s partner, GameTaco.

Since then, FanDuel has expanded the Faceoff catalog to a dozen games, including several new sports-themed FanDuel originals:

  • Cue Masters (pool)
  • Grand Slam Superstar (baseball)
  • Jordan Spieth’s Fairway Frenzy (golf)
  • Gronk Spike Cornhole (cornhole, but featuring NFL player Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski)

So, how are FanDuel users responding to Faceoff? Real-money skill games are still a fairly experimental concept. Moreover, the rapid collapse of one-time investor darling Skillz in 2021 suggested the space might have been overhyped. Skillz now trades at around $5 per share, less than 1% of its all-time high and has been the target of class-action lawsuits by disgruntled investors.

And yet, FanDuel’s continued investments in Faceoff suggest that it has gained at least some traction with players. Money is tight at the moment and US gaming operators have been quick to drop ideas that aren’t producing results.

To get a sense of the new product’s performance, Bonus Managing Editor Alex Weldon spoke with FanDuel’s General Manager of DFS, F2P & Skill Gaming, Aaron Champagne. Some key takeaways from the interview are that new content for Fairway Frenzy is coming next year and that fans see skill games as a worthy product even where legal sports betting and iGaming are available, not merely a substitute in their absence.

Alex’s questions are in bold, and Aaron’s responses follow verbatim.

It’s been a little over a year since FanDuel launched its first exclusive game on Faceoff. How have things gone?

Faceoff has exceeded our expectations. In its first 18 months, Faceoff users have played nearly 75 million games. We entered the space due to the attractive overlap in interest among existing FanDuel customers and non-customers. This has been validated as a sizable number of Faceoff users are new to FanDuel, and we’ve seen stronger-than-expected engagement from existing FanDuel sportsbook and fantasy users.

Has the investment you’ve made in exclusive content paid off?

Our exclusive games have become some of our top-performing titles, and investing in games that appeal to existing FanDuel users has been a great decision. Jordan Spieth’s Fairway Frenzy is one of our top games and the one our customers are always clamoring for more content. We’ve also seen exciting early performances from our Gronk Spike Cornhole game, which we just launched in partnership with Rob Gronkowski. However, we’ve also seen that our users like to play a variety of games, so having other more traditional skill game titles like Boggle, Scrabble Cubes, and Puzzle Pyramid has been critical.

Is the audience similar for skill games and DFS? Are these products more popular in states where FanDuel Sportsbook and Casino aren’t yet legal?

We have seen strong interest in Faceoff from both existing DFS and Sportsbook customers. Faceoff offers our customers a fun way to compete against others and show off their skill in paid and free contests. Interestingly, we have seen similar demand for Faceoff across all states, and it isn’t skewed by whether FanDuel is operating Sportsbook or Casino in those states.

Have you faced any unexpected challenges? Or expected ones?

As with any new product, the biggest challenge is establishing product and brand awareness. This is a rapidly growing sector, but still new to many consumers, so we have had to go to extra lengths to communicate to users what Faceoff is and why they should play. We’ve had a great partner in Game Taco, who has been able to provide guidance and best practices on how to best break through in the skill gaming category. Their partnership has been so valuable during these first 18 months, and we are starting to see our awareness and acquisition efforts paying off.

What can Faceoff fans expect to see coming in 2024?

Users can expect to see lots of new games and game modes coming over the next 6 months. One specific update I can share is that we’re getting ready to launch several new Fairway Frenzy golf holes and a new 9-hole game mode. Our avid Fairway Frenzy users have been clamoring for some new holes, so we’re thrilled to be able to launch those in Q4. Users should also expect to see more free-to-play tournaments/game modes. We currently have a Daily Swing that has outperformed our expectations. Fans should expect to see more free, daily ways to win cash on Faceoff.

We are also very excited about the upcoming release of another exclusive title with a FanDuel partner later this year. Stay tuned for more!

About the Author

Alex Weldon

Alex Weldon

Alex Weldon is an online gambling industry analyst with nearly ten years of experience. He currently serves as Casino News Managing Editor for Bonus.com, part of the Catena Media Network. Other gambling news sites he has contributed to include PlayUSA and Online Poker Report, and his writing has been cited in The Atlantic.
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