Are Leaderboards Bad? Part 4

Alex Scott Head of Poker 200x300 jpg

This is Part 4 of what’s turning into a serial of posts on leaderboards. Catch up on what you missed in Part 1, Part 2 or Part 3.

In this segment, we look at two other Microgaming employees’ thoughts on leaderboards.

Fourth perspective: other people’s experiences

Since leaderboards are such popular promotions despite the evidence against them, I asked for the opinion of a couple people in the Microgaming office who have a lot of experience with them. Here’s what they think.

Alex Scott, Head of Poker

"The ultimate example of an ill-thought-out leaderboard in poker is the rake race. In rake races, players compete to generate the largest amount of revenue for the business by playing for as long as possible. Sounds great for the business right? Not really. Almost every operator on the MPN wants to ban rake races, and it’s telling that the world’s most successful poker sites have never run such promotions.

Rake races raise awareness of pricing, making customers more sensitive to what they are being charged for the service. As customers become more sensitive to price, bad things start to happen. You have to charge them less to get them to stay your customer. As soon as you stop running your rake race, the customer jumps to another site. You have not created any long-term loyalty.

Besides that, rake races are questionable from an ethical perspective, as they encourage gaming habits which are just plain irresponsible. It’s not healthy for a player to be playing at 20 tables, 18 hours a day to generate as much rake as possible to win the race.

The best promotions in poker are not ones where players feel compelled to play gruelling hours or compete against the elite few, but where players are challenging themselves to raise their game a notch. That type of promotion appeals to everyone and not just a small minority, and the effects are far more positive in the long term."

To read more from Alex, check out his blog on Microgaming’s poker website.

James Ford, Product Manager – Multi-player Casino

"For Multi-player Casino, leaderboards are a component of our tournament product and, for the purposes that we use them, we’ve actually found that they tend to work very well for us.


Slot tournaments have increased in popularity over the years owing to their fast pace and valuable prizes for the winners. The tournaments are usually played in short bursts or over a number of days. They offer the fun associated with normal slot games, but have an added appeal to players who like to compete against each other for prizes.

With the way our tournaments are structured, players pay only the entry fee to take part. The entry fee buys a player credits to use in the tournament. Once these credits are used up, the player cannot continue to play in that tournament unless the tournament allows add-ons or rebuys. Add-ons enable a player to buy a certain number of extra credits and to continue playing in a tournament. A rebuy allows a player to restore his/her starting position in the tournament.

Tournaments require no more skill than normal slot games. This makes them accessible to players of all skill levels. Additionally, the easy-to-understand entry fee makes them very popular with beginning players or players who wish to control their spending.


For slot tournaments, a leaderboard is utilised for each event – this keeps track of the players’ scores as they play the slot game. So instead of winning cash on a payline, a player is awarded points which contributes to his/her overall score and placement on the leaderboard. When a tournament completes, players in winning positions on the leaderboard are allocated prizes.

Casino tournaments with leaderboards occur on a regular basis, and we offer a wide range of formats to allow operators to use them for multiple purposes. This, in turn, allows operators to market and target different player types and demographics. We’ve seen very successful results for acquisition, re-activation, retention and cross-sell to single-player casino.

Terminator2 Game 1024x576 jpg

The leaderboards are designed to add a competitive element to our casino games. These allow players to see where they are at any time within the tournament they’re playing, and to compete against their fellow players to reach the top.

Finally, the leaderboard format enables us to use points rather than cash, allowing us to provide greater time on device in a cost-efficient manner. And, as we all know, more engagement means a happier customer, which means better returns and a happier experience for all."

So there you have it. One person who dislikes leaderboards (or just a particular type) and another who considers them an essential ingredient in his product marketing mix. This is the end of Part 4. Stay tuned for Part 5, where we look at some research on leaderboards specifically in the gaming area.

About the author

Lydia Barbara is the head of Pegasus Gaming Solutions, Microgaming's consulting division. Lydia has been in the gaming industry for 13 years and is considered one of the online gaming industry's top thinkers on poker and other forms of gaming. Connect with Lydia on LinkedIn.