The inventor of an online game imported at great expense by the Atlantic Lottery Corporation and launched in the region last month says not to worry about the game's lack of popularity in its United Kingdom homeland.
James Oakes, who took the game GeoSweep to market in Britain about two years ago with his brother Henry, says poor sales of less than $200 a day in the U.K. are not a surprise.
"We, [Roboreus], are a game technology company that is highly-focused on delivering our games to lotteries around the world and are not set up to be a large-scale game operator," Oakes said in an email to CBC News on Monday.
ALC has invested millions in acquiring and launching GeoSweep in Atlantic Canada, convinced it will win wide appeal in the region despite only modest sales during a two-year run overseas.
'We are pleased with the results so far. It’s driving new traffic to ALC.ca and is now the most popular brand on the site.' —Lindsay Shannon, ALC
The corporation has refused to disclose GeoSweep sales figures in Atlantic Canada since its launch on June 7, but are declaring it a success.
"We are pleased with the results so far," said ALC spokesperson Lindsay Shannon.
"It’s driving new traffic to ALC.ca and is now the most popular brand on the site."
Atlantic Lottery Corp. is operated by the four provincial governments in the region, which receive 100 per cent of the profits.
But those profits have dipped in recent years, while expenses have been on the rise.
GeoSweep, a game where players buy squares on a map grid of Atlantic Canada and hope a computer picks their location in a daily draw, marks ALC's first gambit in its emerging focus on digital products and outside business opportunities.
U.K. was 'model scale' test
The game seemed to start with high hopes in the U.K. as well. Wired magazine reported that the Oakes brothers had plans to "take on" the multi-billion dollar National Lottery with GeoSweep, something Oakes now disputes.
"I think that was just a case of an overexcited journalist," he said.
Instead, Oakes says the U.K. has been used to test the game on a modest scale so it can be sold elsewhere.
Originally, GeoSweep sold map squares in the U.K. for 10 pence each, the equivalent of about 15 cents, with a promised jackpot of 1 million pounds if the square was selected in the daily draw.
The country was divided into more than 50 million squares, but sales were so light the jackpot went unclaimed.
Less than a year after its launch, Oakes dropped the price of squares to one pence per day (about 1.5 cents) and cut the jackpot to 100,000 pounds, but sales remain weak.
On its U.K. website in March, GeoSweep acknowledged only 10,000 squares of the 50 million available were in play daily.
At one pence per square, that put income from the game in the entire country at just 100 pounds a day.
Still, Oakes says that does not mean the game is unpopular.
"The U.K. game is our product test-bed where we fine-tune games," he said. "As such, we do not actively market the U.K. site."
Players in Atlantic Canada can win one guaranteed daily prize of $1,000, which is selected from Geos that are actually owned. Neighbouring Geos are eligible to share another $500.
A big prize of $250,000 is also up for grabs every day. That draw, however, includes all 2.3 million Geos, whether they are occupied or not. No one has won the $250,000 to date.