We speak to the creator of the mobile trading title to find out how he simplified complex aspects of the financial market into a casual game
Last year, a veteran of the financial sector decided to take all he knew about training and distill it into a mobile game that would enable everyday users to trade in real-life markets.
The resulting title, Flick A Trade, is now available worldwide and enables players to buy and sell just as they would in the financial sector, identifying trends and learning how these markets work. In the UK, users are even able to play with real money, and there are plans to bring this functionality to other regions around the world.
But trading on the financial market is a difficult and extremely risky business, so how can you simplify that into a casual and accessible title? We spoke to the game's creator Kerem Ozelli (pictured) about this unusual title.
Why develop Flick a Trade? What do you hope to accomplish?
After spending 27 years in the creatively hollow financial industry, I became fascinated with the vast number of people playing mobile and online games such as FarmVille, Clash of Clans and Candy Crush, as well as simulation and strategy apps. I realised that trading is the world’s biggest game and thought: wouldn’t it be amazing to get the kinds of engagement you see in gaming, but in finance?
Our main aim is to get people involved and interacting with the financial markets. Despite the finance sector being the world’s No.1 digital business, it has long been behind other industries in terms of technological innovation.
That’s now changing with the huge surge in Fintech startups, particularly in the UK, that are trying to disrupt and transform the financial world. However, no Fintech has managed to make finance fun and accessible until Flick a Trade.
How did you go about ‘gamifying’ trading? Where did you start?
We have simplified and reduced trading down to its core elements, presenting this typically tricky and untrusted industry in a way that everyone can learn to play and enjoy.
We started by asking: what makes a game?
We tried to make the markets exciting by placing limits on both time and money. Forget complicated trading analysis and theories – in this short timeframe, do you think the markets are going up or down?
It was also important to present the markets in a visually interesting way, providing an audiovisual, kinesthetic experience that requires players to physically interact with them: zoom in and out to spot trends, flick up to buy and down to sell.
We tried to make trading social and competitive with our head-to-head and multiplayer games. Players can invite friends to compete with via various social media channels. With these game types we are posing a different question: You may not be able to beat the markets, but do you think you could beat your opponent or the crowd? Even if you both make a loss, as long as you are better than them, then you are still a winner.
Trading is the world’s biggest game. Wouldn’t it be amazing to get the kinds of engagement you see in gaming, but in finance?
What elements of trading and the financial markets translated well to gaming?
The volatility of the live markets translated particularly well, furthered by our short game durations, as players try and beat the clock to make the most profit.
Everyone has heard of the stereotype of traders shouting: ‘Buy, buy, sell, sell!’ We have harnessed this and made it interactive – giving everyone the power to ‘buy, buy, sell, sell’ with just a flick.
Trying to simplify the complex world of financial trading down to these few core elements was initially a daunting task. So we chose elements that translate well to a fast-paced game, including currencies, commodities and indices rather than stocks and shares as they are more volatile and liquid.
Why introduce the fantasy markets? Was this to make the game more appealing to trading newcomers?
Players began asking why the live financial markets were closed during weekends, and we didn’t want to limit our players to only being able to play during the week. Therefore, we developed a set of fictional commodities with computer generated prices, such as Kryptonite, Explodium and Acoustium. Powered by a completely randomised engine, these markets act just like real markets with respective rallies, crashes and peaks. We wanted to make trading 24/7 for our players.
Why was it important to incorporate real, live market data? How did you accomplish this?
I would say this is hugely important. We didn’t want Flick a Trade to be just another simulation game. It’s the next level of reality gaming: because it’s real-time, live-market data that they can access and play on anytime, anywhere, players learn trading skills that are readily transferable to the real world.
We created our cloud-based trading system/platform that streams real, live market prices – to the second – to player’s mobile devices.
We didn’t want Flick a Trade to be just another simulation game. Because it’s real-time, live-market data, anywhere, players learn trading skills that are readily transferable to the real world.
What tools and technology did you use to programme the game?
We have a great team of developers based in Vienna that have huge experience in creating trading platforms, including the first mission critical, cloud-based trading and gaming engine, as well as social trading games and pioneering web-based financial information systems.
Our sophisticated cloud-based architecture makes millions of price calculations a second and streams them straight to players’ mobile devices. We use Java services and have created separate native iOS and Android apps.
Trading is a daunting proposition for many people, confused by the complexities of the financial market. How have you made that accessible for all types of consumers?
We really want to get across that with Flick a Trade anyone, anywhere can play and trade on the financial markets. By gamifying the markets and reducing them to the core elements we are democratising trading, so everyone can play.
Our free ‘Funny Money’ version is accessible worldwide to anyone of any age, and so provides a completely risk-free and fun way to learn about and engage with trading. Players are given $5,000 free ‘Funny Money’ dollars, giving them a chance to develop and practice skills before upgrading to trade for real. Compared with usual trading amounts of more than £50,0000, Flick a Trade uses micro amounts of money, making trading more accessible to a wider population and lowering real-life entry barriers.
By limiting the dangers of real-life trading such as leverage and trade-sizing, we have provided a fair and risk-free platform to learn. With Flick a Trade, you can only lose what you put in but you can win up to 200 per cent of your stake. This is a far cry from ‘mobile trading platforms’ that promise huge returns, yet you could end up owing hundreds times more than what you had originally put in. Having these limits on time, stake and deposits means that no-one dies. It’s actually hard to completely wipe yourself out.
With Flick a Trade, you can only lose what you put in but you can win up to 200 per cent of your stake. It’s actually hard to completely wipe yourself out.
What else did you do to make the more traditional elements of trading engaging and enjoyable for people?
Flick a Trade allows players to really engage with the markets on their own terms and gives them the power to choose how they interact with the markets – they can set their own game duration, stake, play different game types, and personalise games with friends. By removing real life risks and gamifying trading we have created a fast-paced and social game that has democratised the markets, so anyone can play.