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World Cup Cricket fever: The 'Predictopus' of cricket world cup

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DQW Bureau
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As cricket has become the religion of

younger generation, who are also connected by the world wide web, an

amalgam of both offers a greener pasture to the tech players. If

online game is a passion for people, prediction is simply an

addiction, as we have seen in the World Cup Football, where Paul the

octopus, now dead, became a super star with his predictions.

In an effort to make hay while the

cricket sun shines, Yahoo has introduced a new online betting game

called Predictopus. According to Rajeev Rastogi, Head, Yahoo Labs,

Bengaluru, Predictopus is a product where science meets consumers. In

a brief interaction with CIOL, he sheds light on the game.

Predictopus, the name itself is self

explanatory. Can you please explain the concept behind the game?



This is a product where science meets

consumers. It is one-of-its-kind of betting game, actually the most

complex algorithm of its kind, which has been created by Yahoo! Labs

to drive consumer engagement. So on-field action is now matched by

online action among cricket aficionados!

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Predictopus takes the wisdom of crowds

to the extreme by allowing users to predict almost anything about the

ICC Cricket World Cup, like whether India will advance further than

both Sri Lanka and Pakistan, or whether a team will win that has

never won before. You can compose any of millions of predictions and

sell them any time for virtual points, even in the middle of a match,

just like the stock market. Predictopus then computes what all these

different predictions, taken together, say about the likelihood of

each of the billions of possible ways the tournament could unfold.

It is an example of what is technically

called a combinatorial prediction market, a new kind of market made

possible only now because computing power has increased so massively.

Computing prices exactly in a combinatorial market is infeasible (it

could take more time than the age of the universe even on the

speediest processor), so we employ importance sampling to approximate

the prices. We built the first version during an internal Yahoo! Hack

Day. Finally, we leveraged the Yahoo! Application Platform to quickly

build a public version of the game.

How is the game played online?


Each user starts with a set of 'virtual

points' that they can use to play with. Users are presented with

choices of various kinds of predictions they can make. Once they

choose a prediction, e.g. 'India will finish first in their group' or

'Pakistan will advance further than Australia' or simply 'India will

win cup', the system then calculates the odds of that bet coming

true. They can then use some of their points to make a bet on that

prediction.

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The odds of their bet will keep on

changing until the actual outcome is known. The user can at any time

'sell' their bet to redeem points to use on other bets. The system

maintains a Leaderboard of users who have the maximum balance of

points. Users can also invite their friends to form a group and hence

compete against each other.

What was the role of Yahoo India in

this venture?



Bringing Predictopus to life has been a

truly interdisciplinary and global effort led by Yahoo! India with

the help from Yahoo! Labs scientists and engineers in India and the

US.

What is the revenue model for the

game?



There is no direct revenue generated

from the game. However, games like this lead to deeper

user-engagement, which in turn has an impact on overall economics.

How will it help Yahoo in the

financial front?



The game is very engaging and we have

found that a lot of users are hooked and like to make a lot of bets.

They also like to compete with their friends. This increase in user

engagement leads to increase in advertisement revenue for Yahoo.

Do you think such betting games will

affect the moral fabric of the society?



No, we don't think so. There is no

actual financial transaction involved with users. Users play to win

'virtual points.' The real goal of the game is to create user

involvement and excitement around Cricket World Cup.

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