Betting on AI

Industry Gaming
Phone showing the gaming lobby on the PLLAY app
Phone showing the welcome screen on the PLLAY app


The challenge

For generations, video gamers have been battling it out with friends and strangers on the virtual playing field and adding cash wagers to make each victory a little bit sweeter.

But in the heat of the game, players can lose their cool when it comes to naming one player a winner and the rest a few dollars shorter. Without a referee watching gameplay, resolving these disputes on current video game wagering platforms can be slow, leaving the winner waiting weeks to claim their victory — and payout.

Enter PLLAY. PLLAY came to us with the world’s first AI-driven Computer Vision technology smart enough to watch gameplay in action, determine a winner right away, and process payouts in seconds. Never one to shy away from industry-shaking technology, we couldn’t wait to get into the game.

Stylized image of a football player running superimposed with a phone and gaming controller


The strategy

A new company, PLLAY was in search of a business model that would shape their growth into a successful digital company. We quickly realized that PLLAY is perfectly designed to give casual players from every background a competitive, adrenaline-filled gaming experience — without any of the 24/7 dedication required to be a professional esports player.

We launched PLLAY as a subscription-based service. Players purchase match tokens or match packs up front — one token unlocks each match. That way, players get to keep 100% of any cash they win during a head-to-head match. This two-channel approach feels better for the player, but also keeps the app up and running.

On the product front, we defined a robust product feature set supported by AI technology that included tools to set up and find matches, make wagers, chat with others, and start and end games. Hugely scalable, PLLAY is more than an app — it’s proof of the potential at the intersection of emerging technologies and video gameplay.

A hand holding and XBox controller Visual representation of the digital PLLAY coins A phone showing the My Matches screen on the PLLAY app

Future-focused design

PLLAY AI arrived with a list of product features, but no set specific design requirements — music to our creative ears.

We began our work by putting ourselves in the shoes of the user, imagining the experience from the initial onboarding experience, and building wireframe designs one user journey stage at a time. This approach gave us an unusual amount of freedom to measure which features worked best with a community of internal and community testers — a truly agile approach.


Transforming complex technologies into one incredible gaming experience

PLLAY is built on top of a layered microserver architecture, with multiple complex services integrating into the platform.

Computer vision and AI

An AI technology, Computer Vision gives PLLAY the ability to ‘watch’ users’ gameplay in action, and make split-second determinations about the rightful victor of each match. PLLAY AI observes players’ Twitch streams, decodes gameplay into usable data, and then uses this to determine the winner.

Two people each holding a different controller

Game play as a transaction

With two distinct payment systems within one app, PLLAY presented some unique challenges — and opportunities.

An in-app wallet gave players a way to transfer funds in order to place wagers on their head-to-head gameplay. Amazon Quantum Ledger was the system of choice, paired with Skrill as a payment method. This ensures a secure and transparent wallet that reacts quickly enough to award winners their payout instantly.

Players also need to purchase either subscriptions or tokens within the app in order to be able to start or participate in a match. This required the approval of the Apple App Store review team, easily received due to the quality of info we provided proving our compliance.

PLLAY UI shots

App technology

PLLAY was developed using React Native. Integrating AI elements into the PLLAY app required the development of a complex and customized API communications protocol. We also needed to keep the app active and connected to PLLAY AI even during long periods when the user was away from their device and occupied by gameplay. This was accomplished with automated call and response protocols and by requiring players to confirm when their match was completed, which offered the additional benefit of training the AI to recognize the end of gameplay. Finally, we used UX copy to ensure a high-energy on-brand user experience across the app.

QA testing was an important component throughout the development process, but especially when it came to ensuring that the PLLAY app served both the user and the needs of the AI.

PLLAY's technical architecture diagram

As a head-to-head wagering experience, PLLAY needed to play according to specific government and state regulations. We drew on IP lookup tools and Trulioo to screen and approve users based on location and age in order.

Launch and marketing

PLLAY’s exceptional AI technology deserved a marketing push to match. Working within a previously established brand, we launched a go-to-market strategy featuring refreshed copy and visual content and a targeted email campaign, to rave reviews from the PLLAY team.

The most important part of this launch was bringing PLLAY to the AppStore. Drawing on our expertise in this field, we were able to understand requirements, respond to reviewers, and get the PLLAY app live in the App Store over a very short period of time.

Behind the scenes, we ensured that infrastructure was in place to provide the PLLAY team with analysis and feedback on each customer touchpoint, from ad clicks to free play credits spent all the way to long-term subscriptions.

Sports players


Within two months of launching, the new website saw a significant increase in traffic and performance:



App downloads



App impressions



Session logged



Average wager size

“We’ve created a great solution that rivals any we’ve seen in the space today, and we couldn’t have done it without the expertise and imagination of Apply Digital’s team.”

— Sean Gunn | CEO