SBD/April 1, 2014/Media

App Review: DraftKings For iPhone Turns A Non-Fantasy Player Into An Addict

I am neither an avid nor a casual fantasy sports player, but after a week with the DraftKings mobile application, I might be addicted. DraftKings for iPhone is the mobile extension of the two-year old, venture-backed DraftKings daily fantasy product. It also is the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com. The app, launched in December, was developed in-house by DraftKings and is presently available only on iOS. It is a free download with no advertising. With a $5 credit in my account, I set out to test the waters of mobile daily fantasy on an iPhone 5 version 7.1, with AT&T service. At first launch, the app offers a basic registration form with age verification. Once an account has been created, a profile page shows the user's account balance, live and upcoming contests, and an action menu. A listing of available contests can be found in the Lobby. Contests are organized by sport -- NBA, MLB, NHL, PGA Tour and college basketball were available through end of day Sunday. Within each sport, there are several types of contests: qualifiers, head-to-head and 50/50, just to name a few. Entry fees for public contests range from free to as high as $1,500 for December's NFL Fantasy Football Millionaire contest. There is a $5,300 cap on entry fees for private leagues. Adding funds is a quick and easy credit card transaction, and a minimum of $20 is required to withdraw. Each individual contest includes a depth chart for all of the teams playing in the particular sport that day, an entrant list and a summary of the contest terms. Lineups can be created by choosing individual players or by importing a previously used lineup. Players can be sorted by salary, FPPG (fantasy points per game) and OPRK (opponent rank). Submitted lineups can be adjusted until a contest's live time. Notifications are sent out prior to the start of each contest.

PAYOUTS: The DraftKings app offers two standout features: Local Play and Global Player Swap. With Local Play, the app detects fellow DraftKings players in the same room and invites them to join a contest. Bluetooth or WiFi must be enabled and users must all have the app open with Local Play selected. Global Player Swap allows users to substitute a new player in up to 50 contest lineups. This conveniently saves users the time of adding new players manually in the event of an injury or a healthy scratch. In addition to these two features, filter functionality during lineup creation makes choosing a team very quick and painless. A refer-a-friend promotion can be shared to iPhone contacts, e-mail contacts, Facebook friends and Twitter followers. Push notifications -- like the one I received yesterday for MLB Opening Day contests -- keep users coming back for more.

BUSTS: Users can claim that they are of age by simply swiping the age verification button during registration. What would prevent a young person with a credit card and a cell phone from getting access to an account? There is not much of a barrier to entry here. Meanwhile, for daily fantasy beginners, it is easy to join a contest, but the app does not explain the rules of play very well. Acronyms like FPPG and OPRK are used throughout the experience, but there is no legend. Furthermore, players are awarded frequent player points for completing certain actions, but there is no way of knowing how many would be received and for what.

BOTTOM LINE: Over the course of the week, I played in six contests, spent $3.25, won $0 and earned 13 frequent player points. I am still waiting to see what I get for the frequent player points, and my performance so far has been disappointing, but I plan to keep playing. While the app comes with some ethical questions and an expert-centric approach, it delivers daily fantasy to mobile very smoothly, and invites social competition. I would not be surprised to see a significant spike in the DraftKings registered user-base as a result of this well-crafted app.

Amie Sheridan (amie.sheridan31@gmail.com) is a freelance writer in Philadelphia.

See Sheridan's previous App Review submissions for THE DAILY:
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