Esports, Blockchain and Betting — A New Paradigm
The esports industry is growing at an exponential rate in terms of viewership and revenue generated. Reuters ran an article in February stating that revenue is likely to reach $1.1billion in 2019 based on advertising, sponsorship and media rights to these live competitive gaming events. Additionally, Newzoo reported that 427 million people will be watching some form of esports by the end of 2019.
For the uninitiated, esports are a form of competition focusing around video games. Although esports have been around since the late 80s, it’s only recently that the popularity has exploded. Games such as League of Legends, Fortnite and DOTA are at the forefront of this movement having moved on from the early excitement and popularity of Starcraft and Counter Strike.
The increase in popularity over the last few years has been accelerated by platforms such as Twitch where users can stream themselves playing games and interact with their own community in real time. The incentive for the streamer to keep playing is the potential to gain subscribers who will pay a fee to the stream to have access to a variety of features a normal user doesn’t. Twitch will also stream live esports competitions where users can cheer on their favourite team and interact with each other as they watch the events unfold.
Due to this explosive growth in popularity and capital flowing into the industry, the top streamers are also being paid in accordance with this growth. Much like their ‘real life’ sports counterparts, the top performers are being paid impressive sums of money such as Ninja who is reported to have made $10 million from subscriptions, tips and endorsements in 2018.
Die hard fans are flocking in droves to go and watch esports competitions live and some events, such as the ESL ONE DOTA 2 finals in 2015, have seen an attendance of over 50,000. Betoclock detail a number of high profile events in this article demonstrating the amount of fans and prize money at stake with the top prize pool being $2.13 million.
Much like the everyday sports that most people will be familiar with, where this is competition and two sides facing off, there will be an interest in being able to bet on the winning team. Betting in esports is also growing in alignment with the popularity of these competitions and companies like Unikrn allow a user to bet on the outcome of match.
Unikrn is a project built on a blockchain that allow the user to bet on live matches or even themselves in order to earn UKG — their native cryptocurrency. In October last year, Unikrn announced that they have been granted a gambling license that allows them to bet with crypto in 20 different regions.
To find out more about Unikrn and to debunk some esports myths I spoke with Rahul Sood, CEO.
Can you explain why you decided to use Blockchain for your project and the advantages it provides?
Blockchain-based technologies fit perfectly in a highly-regulated industry such as online gambling.
For Unikrn, the major sources of friction are in dealing with banks around the world, which are usually slow to process. By allowing crypto betting, we can let any user anywhere in the world instantly start playing, and they can more easily cash out. With a blockchain-based backend, we’ve created a smoother auditing, bet history, KYC and AML system that regulators love. Our risk management systems also benefit significantly from blockchain technologies.
That’s a sampling of ways, but many ways blockchain tech streamlines our process to make our platform as easy, safe and fast as possible.
Esports has largely a younger skewing audience who are tech savvy. Do you believe this is the perfect environment and audience for blockchain technology to thrive?
We wouldn’t have launched Unikrn with blockchain-based technology, or invested so substantially into the ecosystem by developing brand new methods and tools, if we didn’t know there was an overlap between esports audiences and the blockchain community.
Before launching our ERC20 token UnikoinGold in 2017, our users were already loving our token we called the Unikoin. When we began planning an ERC-20 version of the Unikoin, we polled our users and found the majority them already owned major crypto (mostly Bitcoin and Ether) and were familiar with blockchain technology.
Our fans were eager to see a blockchain revolution into our esports platform, which you can see from the enthusiasm we saw during UnikoinGold’s token sale.
It’s been widely reported that esports will become a $1 billion dollar industry. What are your views for the near future of the industry?
Esports and gaming are the fastest-growing form of entertainment in the world, and they’ll continue to evolve. Expect to see upward trending growth cycles for decades, especially as innovators find increasingly better ways to bring value into the space, just like the history of traditional sports. Esports is already well beyond a 1 billion dollar industry, give it a couple more years and we’ll see major growth in the betting space.
Asia has historically been seen as a key region in the industry — are you beginning to see more activity outside of this region?
The idea that Asia is esports’ “key region” is a little misleading: Asia, Europe, the CIS and North America all have long-established, enormous fan bases invested in watching, playing and engaging with esports.
According to Forbes,only one of the top 12 most valuable esports franchises are Asian (South Korea’s Gen.G). The publishers of all of the top esports in the world are American companies. The first million-dollar tournament, Dota 2’s The International, was held in Germany, a country with highly valued and storied esports fans. Only 35% of the top 100 earning players in esports tournament history are from China and South Korea, with more than 50% of such players hailing from Europe, North and South America (and even 2% from Australia).
According to SuperData, North American fans alone generated the most revenue per person, and represented over 30% of global esports revenue in 2017.
So to answer your question, non-Asian fans aren’t beginning to see more activity, they’ve been a core demographic in esports for well over a decade, and we’re seeing growth outside of Asia because we’re seeing growth all around the globe.
Do you believe that the acceptance of your betting license is a sign that blockchain is here to stay?
Absolutely, we’re bringing a ton of credibility to the crypto space by using blockchain technology in a highly-regulated space to make the overall experience better. As you know, technology is only as good as what you can do with it, and that Unikrn has been able to build something unprecedented with blockchain-based tech demonstrates there will be innovators which push this technology and its advantages to consumers. The next step in blockchain’s evolution is ending speculation and refocusing on utility and real investing in digital securities.
Are there any exciting updates you can provide for the future of Unikrn?
We recently become the first and only licensed operator allowing users to bet on their own skill with Unikrn UMode, and we’re charting an exciting future for that experience so any gamer can make their games more interesting. We’ll also be launching expansions to our esports book very soon, which will include more technology innovation, but we’re not ready to announce them yet.
How do you plan to expand in the future?
Unikrn will continue to change the fundamentals in how gamers play, pay and watch gaming content across the board.
I thank Rahul for his time. You can find Unikrn on their website.
Founder of The Daily Chain — Visit the site to read more crypto related content