FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The invention relates to an on-line betting game implemented by computer means in which a player makes a forecast relating to the ordering of a plurality of competitor-elements from a given set, the order being established after some future event has occurred, and being unknown to the player at the time the forecast is made.
DESCRIPTION OF RELATED ART
Numerous interactive on-line games are known that make use of a game site and a terminal that is available to a player, for example those that are described in applications US 2006/0281510 A1 for “Computer-implemented question-and-answer game” and US 2008/0293480 A1 for “A method of developing the activity of an on-line forecasting site”, both in the name of Moreno, and incorporated herein by reference.
Those applications describe on-line games based on making forecasts: for example, in application US 2006/0281510 A1, a question from an opinion poll is put to the player and the player is requested, not to give his or her own opinion for answering the poll, but rather to guess the result that was obtained using the population that was polled, a result that the player naturally does not know. In application US 2008/0293480 A1, the player is asked to make a forecast, e.g. concerning the audience for a television program, or indeed the weather situation on the following day, or the results of sporting or stock exchange events.
In general, betting games are based on making forecasts, i.e. the player is asked to make a conjecture concerning some future event that is essentially deterministic, i.e. that involves little or no chance, unlike games that involve a smaller or greater random element or even games in which luck plays an essential part such as lotto games, casino games, etc.
Another characteristic of such betting games is that they do not involve hidden data, insofar as the unknown parameter (the rank of the competitor-elements in the order) is future data that is not yet known during the period when the players are invited to make their forecasts.
Such games are generally simple derivatives of traditional sports betting such as combination betting on horse races (on the first three, or four, or five, . . . places), where the player is asked to forecast which of the competitors in the list submitted to the player will be amongst the first three (or four, or five, . . . ) places, i.e. the three (or four, or five, . . . ) of them that will be at the top of the ordering once the event has occurred, i.e. after the test has taken place.
The winning player is the player who forecasts which competitor-elements (the horses) will come in the first places. Numerous variants make it possible to increase the kinds of bet that can be made and to vary accordingly the winnings that can be allocated: bets with or without the right placings, etc.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The object of the present invention is to propose a novel form of bet making it possible to extend the range of games beyond the above-mentioned traditional formulae such as first three, five, etc., all of which are based on forecasting the winners of the test and the order in which they will be placed at the top of the list.
Essentially, the game of the invention consists in: i) allowing the player to select any one of the competitor-elements from the set presented to the player (which selected element is referred to below as the “reference element”); and ii) asking the player to forecast which competitor-elements, according to the player, will lie immediately before and/or immediately after the reference element in the final order, once the future event has taken place.
In its most general form, the game of the invention is implemented by means of a computer system having at least one terminal suitable for presenting data to a player and for enabling the player to provide parameters to the system, and a player site that is coupled to each terminal, and the game comprises the following sequence of successive steps:
a) presenting the player with a plurality of N competitor-elements forming a predefined set, the competitor-elements being suitable for being classified as a whole in an ordered list that can be determined after some future event has occurred;
b) asking the player to select one of the N competitor-elements as a reference element; and
c) asking the player to select one of the N−1 remaining competitor-elements as a competitor-element, with the player forecasting that it is to have a relative rank in the classification that is higher, or respectively lower, than that of the reference element; to the exclusion of forecasting the winning competitor-elements that will present the highest absolute ranks after classification has occurred; and after the future event has occurred:
d) if the relative rank of the competitor-element is higher, or respectively lower, than that of the reference element, calculating a winning score and allocating the score to the player.
The game of the invention thus presents two particular features compared with traditional betting games:
1) it is based on a relative classification, i.e. the game does not consist in asking the player to forecast the best competitors, but only to forecast which competitor-element is going to be classified immediately before and/or immediately after a reference element selected by the player; and
2) the player is free to select the reference element that can be selected from amongst any of the competitor-elements, even, and above all, from amongst competitor-elements that are not expected to be situated at the top of the classification (i.e. the “favorites”).
Numerous variants can be envisaged, thereby enabling the winnings that are allocated to players to be modulated.
Thus, it is indeed possible to restrict the bet to selecting the competitor-element that will be situated immediately before (and/or immediately after) the reference element in the classification, i.e. to allocate a winning score to the player only if the ranks of the competitor-element and of the reference element are consecutive in the final classification.
However, it is also possible to nevertheless allocate a winning score to a player if all of the competitor-elements have been put in the right order relative to the reference element, i.e. if the competitor-element proposed is indeed classified before (and/or after) the reference element, even if the competitor-element is not immediately before (and/or immediately after) the reference element once the future event has occurred.
Under such circumstances, the score may be calculated as an inverse function of the difference in ranking between the competitor-element and the reference element, i.e. the score is higher when the proposed competitor-element and reference element are closer together in the classification, with the highest score being allocated when the competitor-element is situated immediately before (and/or immediately after) the reference element.
Another variant consists in asking the player to forecast which will be the two (or more) competitor-elements that precede (and/or follow) the reference element in the classification. The score will naturally be correspondingly higher when the forecast does indeed correspond to a correct and immediately consecutive order for the various competitor-elements relative to the reference elements.
The game of the invention can be applied to a very great variety of competitor-elements:
programs broadcast simultaneously on various television channels, the classification being based on the audience ratings achieved by each of the channels while broadcasting the programs in question;
securities listed on the same market, with the classification being determined by the mark of each of the securities at a predetermined moment;
sports teams playing in a common category, the classification being that obtained by each of the teams in the category at the end of a series of competitions.
Advantageously, the player selects the reference element and the competitor-elements for forecasting purposes via a graphics interface comprising a series of fields displayed on a screen of the terminal, these fields being movable under controlled action of the player so as to drag the fields on the screen and make a stack that is representative of the player's forecast.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING
There follows a more detailed description of an implementation of the invention, with reference to the accompanying drawing.
FIG. 1 shows an example of a computer system suitable for use in the context of the game of the invention, illustrating the various functional units involved in implementing the game.
FIG. 2 shows an example of the way in which the screen appears in the game of the invention and the way in which the player makes choices.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
FIG. 1 shows a computer system suitable for implementing the invention by means of an Internet site with which the player can make a connection by any appropriate means, in particular by means of a computer, or of a portable telephone or a personal digital assistant (PDA) suitable for exchanging data with the game site via a cellular network, using various well-known technologies. However this configuration is not limiting in any way, and the invention can be implemented in other ways, providing there are means available for interactive bidirectional data interchange between the player and the game site that organizes the sequencing of the various steps of the method of the invention.
In FIG. 1, reference 10 designates microcomputers used by players. Each microcomputer 10 is connected to a telecommunications network constituted in this example by a terrestrial wired network such as a telephone network (in switched mode or in DSL mode), a cable distribution network, or indeed a connection to the Internet via a server that is common to a plurality of stations.
The game may also be implemented on cell phones 12 having functions that enable them to exchange digital data using various well-known technologies such as SMS, WAP, GPRS, or UMTS-3G. The users of such networks can thus occupy idle moments (on public transport, while in a waiting room, etc.) by playing the game of the invention, with the hope of winning prizes.
The computer or telephone terminals 10 or 12 are connected via appropriate respective interfaces 14, 16 to a game site 20 that is suitable for exchanging digital data with the terminals. The user begins by identifying him or herself with the game site 20 by a protocol that is itself conventional, and comprising, as appropriate, issuing a specific address or telephone number and then sending a subscriber identifier or number (login) and a password.
Each terminal can display text messages on a screen, and in particular information received from the game site 20, with it being possible for the user to key-in alphanumeric data and send it in return to the game site 20.
In this respect, the game site 20 acts, in combination with the interfaces 14 and 16, to format messages as a function of the type of terminal used, computer terminal or telephone terminal. Thus, for computer terminals 10, the messages are formatted so as to be capable of being received and displayed in the form of web pages readable using a browser, whereas for mobile telephones the messages are formatted, for example, as WAP pages, that are better suited to being displayed on a screen of small size.
One particular possibility is constituted by Apple's mobile telephone known as an “iPhone” (registered trademark) that is specially arranged to host applications, which applications are advantageously suitable for being operated by means of a touch screen.
Nevertheless, it should be observed that the content of messages formatted by the game site 20 and by the interfaces 14 and 16, i.e. the actual information exchanged with the various terminals, is identical regardless of the formatting, with the only changes relating to layout, and depending on whether the information is to be displayed on a computer terminal or on a telephone terminal.
The various formats mentioned above for presenting information are not limiting, and the same basic information can be presented to players using a variety of formats, from the smallest (screen of a portable telephone) to the largest (display on a giant screen, e.g. in a TV studio); the difference resides solely in the way the various pieces of information presented to the player are presented, with the presentation being adapted to the presentation medium being used.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED IMPLEMENTATION OF THE INVENTION
There follows a description of how the game of the invention takes place, in a particular preferred example.
This example is that of a forecasting game relating to the audiences of TV programs.
It will readily be understood that this example is not limiting, and can be transposed to other situations, in particular to stock market indices where it is possible to define categories and sub-categories that can constitute the subject matter of specific bets, e.g. indices concerning companies in the energy, transport, building, etc. sectors, or indeed indices concerning raw materials, e.g. distinguishing between metals, precious metals, etc.
Naturally, the invention is also applicable to more conventional bets such as betting on horse races, the ranking of football teams, etc.
An essential characteristic of the invention lies in the fact that the player is not asked to bet on the ranking of the best participants in the test, i.e. on the names of the winners (e.g. the three TV programs having the highest ratings, or the first three horses in a race, etc.) as happens in conventional sports betting such as placing a combination bet on three or more horses, with or without the right placings.
On the contrary, in the present invention, the player is asked to bet on a group of competitors, possibly far removed from the “favorites” group (i.e. those that have the greatest chance of coming in first). The player begins by selecting one of these participants (referred to as the “reference element”), and then forecasts which competitor, according to the player, will have a rank, after the test has been run, that is above and/or below the rank of the selected competitor. This amounts to making a bet on a relative ranking, with the comparison being relative to the selected reference (the reference element).
It will be understood that the difficulty is made that much greater by the player selecting as the reference element a competitor with little chance of coming in first.
Although favorites are subjected to a large amount of analysis as to their respective chances of coming in first (which analysis is itself published in numerous media), information is much sparser for the competitors who are not favored and who attract much less attention from commentators, journalists, and analysts.
With reference to FIG. 2 there follows a description of a particular example where the competitor elements are TV programs.
The audiences for these broadcasts are measured in terms of a parameter that is quantified, known as the “audience rating”, and the player's forecast relates to the relative comparative ratings of different programs, e.g. broadcast simultaneously on a plurality of channels.
Naturally, the forecasts of the comparative audience ratings of the various channels to be formulated before the event occurs, i.e. before the measured audience rating is made public.
Forecasts may be accepted before the broadcast, and also even while it is taking place (so as to simulate the interest of players, and thus the traffic on the site), or even after the broadcast has ended, up to some time limit prior to the publication of audience ratings.
The player sees a display 22 appear on the screen that gives a list 24 of television channels, e.g. the 21 most-viewed channels amongst seven analog channels, seven broadcast digital channels, and seven satellite channels, with each channel title being associated with a description 26 of the program that is to be broadcast at a particular time.
The display shown to the player may optionally depend on parameters selected by the player, such as: time of broadcast (prime time or evening broadcast, . . . ), the type of program (e.g. the people invited to the program over a given period), the list of movies that are to be broadcast on the various channels during a given period, or any other type of bet. The player may also select the type of bet: three- four- or five-element bet and whether or not they need to have the right placings.
The example shown corresponds to a three-element bet but made on the various programs broadcast simultaneously at prime time on the various channels.
Advantageously, the player makes the bet via a graphics interface by pointing to one of the items in the list, e.g. item 28 “Canal+” and then dragging it to a dedicated zone 30 thus giving the channel “Canal+” as the reference element. The same means are used to group together with the reference element 28 two other programs that, according to the player, are going to have a higher audience rating and a lower audience rating, respectively than the rating of the reference element, by sliding the corresponding items 32 and 34 into the zone 30. The bet made in this way is confirmed by clicking on a button 36.
The winning score allocated by the site will naturally be a function of difficulty, and will be greater under the following circumstances:
the number N of competitor-elements is large;
the forecast relates to a large number M of competitor-elements: typically M=3 for a three-element bet (as described above with reference to FIG. 2), M=5 for a five-element bet (with two competitor-elements preceding the reference element and two competitor-elements following it); and
the bet is made on the competitor-element(s) that is/are situated “immediately before” and/or “immediately after” the reference element in the final order, or merely “before” and/or “after”.
For a bet of the “immediately before/immediately after” the probability of finding the combination by chance is:
For a mere “before/after” bet, this probability becomes:
If it is bet merely that the results will be “grouped together”, i.e. that no other competitor-element will lie between them in the group of M selected competitors, regardless of whether the elements are selected with the right placings, then the probability becomes:
One way of calculating winnings can be given, by way of example, by the following expression:
p=(M−2) is the “depth” of the bet, with a depth p=1 corresponding to a three-element type bet (i.e. p=1 competitor before and 1 competitor after the reference element); and
R being a parameter referred to as the “risk factor” and having the form:
where Focus is the rank obtained by the reference element once the order is known: this serves to weight the risk factor, giving it a smaller value when the player has selected as the reference element a competitor that was well positioned in the test, therefore corresponding a priori to a competitor that was amongst the favorites and about which the player could have had available a large amount of information and analyses concerning the chances of the test prior to the test taking place.
In contrast, the greater the extent to which the forecast relates to competitors situated far away from the favorites, the higher the risk factor and thus the greater the hope of winning—in exponential manner, insofar as the parameter R acts like a second exponent.