- Design Systems
Bringing a new type of live sports gaming to life
When2020 - Present
What is Circl?
Imagine betting on sport… but you can only do it when your mates contribute to the jackpot. Circl is a social game that sees a pot of money change hands as events happen in-game.
We jumped at the opportunity to work with Circl. Their disruptive central ethos is about social inclusion rather than addictive exclusion and their product could even offer people a way out of destructive gambling habits.
It's something we could totally get behind and we’ve been involved from the early prototype stages to where they are now.
- Created a prototype of the Circl app, capturing investor’s interest instantly.
- Built the design system for their increasingly popular app.
- Designed a playful, engaging brand that puts friendship and gaming at the heart of the experience.
- Now partnering with the team at Circl to design more great features for this game changing product.
You can download Circl from the Apple app store where it now has a 4.9 star rating. They also recently invited people to invest in the product on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube where they exceeded their target of £400,000.
Circl is a ‘live-action sports game’ involving groups of up to 10 people staking money on a match or game. The jackpot moves around the ‘circle’ as events happen in-game. This could be goals, cards, corners, or anything. It’s up to you to determine the rules. Whoever has the pot at the end of the game wins the cash.
It “provides a new way for sports fans and non-sports fans alike, to watch and engage with live sport, together.” Whilst it could be applied to any sport, for now it’s mainly aimed at those watching football.
The start of Circl
According to an interview with founder Will Hawkins, the idea came whilst watching a boring football match. Wanting to engage his mates, many of whom weren’t even football fans in the first place, he got people to put money into a hat. This was passed around every time the ball went out of play. Suddenly everyone was engrossed.
There was a product idea here that could engage people regardless of whether they’re into sport or gambling.
Along with startup co-founders Mark Quinn and Eddie Ross they created a mock-up of the app but weren’t getting anywhere. That’s where we came in.
Why prototyping works
They knew we could bring their idea to life as we’d worked with a few of them before.
We built a prototype that would allow them to show off what the app could look and feel like. Within 10 minutes of showing this to an investor they had the money they needed.
A prototype is for showing off. It’s not the finished product. But it shows how a typical user would interact with the app – the golden path. How the game works, the chat function and more.
We’ve talked about the benefits of prototyping before. It might seem like common sense but having something that an investor can physically touch, is far more likely to win them over than a pitch deck.
Design can be expensive, but it pays dividends to do it right early in the process. We’ve seen it happen numerous times with different clients.
Circl’s brand and design
With investment in hand, Circl asked us to do the rest, knowing what we could do.
We worked on a brand which was distinct from traditional bookies and the gambling industry.
Yes, Circl involves betting, but its ethos is very different. They’re not focused on an addictive solo experience but rather a socially inclusive and accountable one. This is clear in the app's design system. Users are playing with their friends, not against the house.
There’s also none of the dense statistical analysis and control room feel that you get with other gambling apps. This is first and foremost a game and the design needed to reflect that, so that informed the colours and shapes we used.
The UI is simple, engaging, and animated. The chat feature is also key, combining live sport updates with social interaction. You could play this in a pub with mates or remotely from home. Either way, you’re never doing it alone.
Skin in the game
We’re now Circl’s exclusive design partners and are fully on board with this project. It fits in with our ‘Do Good’ values as a design agency.
We love the accountability of it. In theory the stake shouldn’t go beyond what any one member of the group is willing to lose. And because it’s your friend that’s winning, they’ll probably just get the next round of drinks. It may even be a stepping stone for people to get out of compulsive gambling.
And it’s not just the game itself where they are aiming to have a positive impact. Some of the money that Circl take as a company, is reinvested in grassroots football.
What’s in store for Circl and The Bang
Circl are planning to expand into the US and other sports long term. They see a lot of potential in things like the NBA and esports.
Using the customisation feature, different games could have different rules. In Call of Duty for example, different events would cause the pot to jump around the circle.
They can also add different game mechanics such as shrinking pots and cash out points. The possibilities are endless and we’re always iterating and improving as we go.
We’re huge fans of the product and love working with the team at Circl. Apparently, they also love working with us as you can see from this video!