The Wharton and engineering students of Acention are developing mobile games that let users earn money while they play. The Venture Initiation Program accelerator is helping them launch.

Play Games, Win Money

What if you could play a game on your phone and earn money at the same time?

It sounds too good to be true, but it’s the premise behind Acention, founded by Colin Robinson, WG’18, Anvith Ekkati, GEN’18, and Peter Zhu, WG’18.

Acention logo

Here’s how it works. When you sign up, you get one cent. You pick a game to play, and bet your penny against your opponent’s. Whoever wins now has two cents to wager. Whoever loses watches a short commercial to earn a new penny. (Get it? “A Cent”-tion.)

Winnings can build up quickly for someone who’s good at the games: winning just ten games gets you to over $5 — the minimum required to cash out and have the money sent to your bank or PayPal account. Win 20 games and you’ve made over $5,000. And at 30 games, the winnings top $10,000,000. As Colin notes, “the thrill of winning money is very addictive.”

The beauty of this is that Acention only gives each player one cent — and after that, Acention make more than a penny from each advertisement that a player watches to earn his next cent.

A More Ethical Alternative to Pay-to-Win

And as Colin explains, Acention offers “all of the upsides of gambling with none of the downsides.” Users can’t load their own money onto the platform to wager or buy powers that help them win. Yes, there are in-app purchases, but they let players choose colorful skins for their spaceships or buy emojis to send to other player — fun cosmetic additions, but nothing that influences game play.

The team feels strongly about this. “I see it as a more ethical alternative to pay-to-win games,” Colin says. In pay-to-win games, players pay to get a boost that enables them to get past a particularly difficult level, or to win more often. This means that games are no longer won on skill alone — a player who pays more will win more often, and it turns the addictive nature of game-play against users, tempting them to keep on spending in order to keep winning. “I think a lot of gamers will embrace a business model that is more rewarding to them and less manipulative,” Colin says.

Sound Fun? Join The Beta

Colin initially came up with the idea for Acention while writing a thought leadership paper on gaming while a consultant, and thinking about how manipulative the pay-to-win model was. A dedicated gamer himself, he decided to make something better. He met Anvith in the fall of his first year at Wharton at a Founder Finder mixer that Colin went to looking for a CTO. Another gamer, Anvith loved the idea and wanted to work on it as soon as he heard about it. Colin met Peter, who worked at Riot Games for four years, at last winter’s Founders’ Club retreat, and the team was complete.

Acention has two games now, and they’re aiming to launch to the public with three games, plus a plan to release a new game every two to three months. They’ve been running beta testing with a small group of gamers, and between now and the end of January hope to scale that testing up to a couple of thousand users. Early next year they’ll be working to raise a seed round, and after graduation, hire more team members and publicly launch Acention.

Want to join the beta? Sign up on the website.

Posted: November 2, 2017

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