If you are a marketer, technologist and a savvy fan with an eye for competitive fervor, then this is something to start paying close attention to. eSports is not some new technology or fad, it is a full blown shift in entertainment and pop culture that is quickly capturing a massive amount of time and attention from consumers and traditional superstars. First, some facts:
What is eSports? — eSports puts the competitive video gaming experience center-stage for the world to take notice. While live events and tournaments have long been a part of video game culture, broadband live-streaming has radically widened the audience.
How big is it? — The size and growth of the industry is staggering:
- Twitch.tv, the leading eSports streaming site, accounts for more peak internet traffic than Facebook and Amazon.
- Users of the site watch an average of 421.6 minutes per month, about 44% more than those who watch YouTube.
- More people watched the Season 3 finals for League of Legends (eSports game) than watched the MLB World Series or the NBA Finals, roughly 32M in total.
- The industry is expected to generate roughly $5 billion in 2020.
Why is it so popular? — There are a number of reasons eSports is only beginning to scratch the surface of its market ceiling:
- Millennials love watching video games.
- Viewer retention is fantastic.
- Competition makes players more engaged.
- Professional sports owners are getting on board.
- There is money to be made via eSports-related gambling.
Despite its budding potential, there are gaps that can be improved upon. For one, game makers are closing off their eco-systems which prevent other services from feeding off of real-time data.
Take data services for example. In traditional sports, the collecting and feeding of real-time data is already one o f the main drivers fue ling businesses like Sports Radar and Opta Sports in aiding sports betting and fantasy leagues worth nearly $7B. To date, the groundworks for such a service in eSports is not yet in place, meaning that the industry is losing out on a potential $1B opportunity with eSports fantasy leagues.
Now fundamentally, Sports Radar, Opta Sports or any other data service provider could easily deploy their resources to address this emerging need. However, even with policy changes addressing regulatory and industry governance on partnerships, these types of services still have limitations across the entire sports betting plex.
- Lack of Custom Data — Based on how much one pays, data packages limit the type of information that can be accessed on an API. Oftentimes, the APIs are not flexible enough nor do they provide the level of granularity even for the most premium of packages.
- High Fees — In order to operate a real-time fantasy sports league across multiple domains, an API is needed to pull statistics to fuel the exchange of money between league participants. Yearly rates for such APIs can range from a few thousand dollars to almost a million dollars.
- Centralization — These services allocate one or only a handful of resources to cover data extraction for any one event. This method of collection increases the probability of a single point of failure when it comes to reporting.
- Unreliability — While the data feed might provide real-time information about a live sports event, there are instances when information may be incomplete. For example, if a player gets traded to a new team their jersey number or team information won’t be updated instantaneously.
Enter Eventum, a blockchain-based startup with a mission dedicated to improving the collection and validation of real-time data by decentralized means. Eventum’s ‘wisdom of the crowd’ logic aims to harness community-driven inputs in order to reduce single points of failure in data reporting. Users are incentivized to quickly and accurately report on event details through a tokenized rewards system that distributes Eventum tokens (EVT) to those whose inputs are validated in real-time and in line with the generated consensus. The Eventum platform targets multiple use cases like fake news identification, content moderation and image analysis, but Eventum was primarily founded on closing the gaps in today’s fantasy sports.
Though Eventum’s solution is not yet complete, the team has released a working prototype — the Eventum Alpha — to showcase its proof of concept. The Alpha has been made available for public demonstration through a series of live events mimicking real-world applications, one of which featured the use case of reporting statistics from an eSports tournament in real-time.
Overview of the Live Event
The event required participants to watch the championship round of an online gaming tournament and report on which team was able to strike first blood. Participants recorded their inputs in the portal of the live event in order to fully test out the Alpha’s architecture of smart contracts and validation nodes.
What Went Right
- Proof of Concept — The Alpha established a thorough proof of concept. From start to finish, the Alpha’s smart contracts accepted more than 250 participants to the live event and recorded everyone’s voting history. The validation nodes helped generate the correct consensus results allowing the smart contract to apportion EVT to those participants who successfully contributed to the consensus. The Alpha was even able to showcase new features like detecting “false-positive” votes — votes that were cast with the correct answers but eliminated from the consensus as a result of early-guessing before first blood took place in real time.
- User Experience — The Alpha too delivered on providing a robust UX. As a participant, navigation of the portal was seamless and the reporting mechanisms to vote were easy to use. The underlying nodes validating every participant interaction and their subsequent storage on the smart contract were tracked and made available here.
What Needs Improvement
As with all MVPs, many are a work in progress and the Alpha is no exception. One hiccup took place right at the start of the event as Eventum’s servers crashed due to overcapacity of participants in the live event (which by the way is not a bad thing!). The issue caused portal features to time out which resulted in a delay of important event information and a crash of the notifications system. This unfortunately led some participants to unknowingly vote after the event had ended meaning their votes were not included during consensus gathering.
Despite the lapse, the Alpha is a one-of-a-kind prototype that truly articulates the concept of decentralization and showcases its technical foundation with working validation nodes and smart contracts. The team is highly proactive and has already patched up solutions to address issues of overcapacity in time for their next event. I will continue to follow Eventum’s progress and look forward to seeing the implementation of the new updates.
For more details on my experience using the Alpha for the eSports live event, please read my post here.