The Skillz esports disruption goal is to bring competitive play and prizes to popular mobile games. Instead of the player versus player battle titles you might expect, Skillz games can be puzzle, card and bubble popping genres.
The platform offers mobile game developers the opportunity to turn their titles in competitive games where players pay entry fees in return for the chance to win tournament prizes. Skillz CEO and founder Andrew Paradise, as per Forbes, says:
“Any game can be an esport, and any player can be a champion.”
Skillz focuses on delivering games to amateur players and demographics more underrepresented in esports today. Skillz User Acquisition Manager Justin Sampson says, “Skillz invests a lot of time creating experiences that resonate with all kinds of players and skill levels.” CEO Paradise said in a statement after making the CNBC Disrupter 50 List for the second time in 2019, that:
“We’re leading the next wave of entertainment by empowering mobile game developers and players with democratized access to fun, fair competition for real prizes.”
The mobile esports site became the first esports company to make the list in 2017.
CNBC ran the headline, “Esports gaming platform Skillz hooks users even more than Netflix and Facebook,” in May 2019, after Netflix warned shareholders that it competes with, “Fortnite more than HBO.”
At the time mobile gaming had reached an annual revenue figure of $63 billion for 2018. Newzoo predicts mobile gaming will overtake console and PC play in 2020 and grow to an annual worth of $90 billion.
Skillz isn’t missing out on the mobile gaming market. When CNBC ran the story, it declared that collectively Skills gamers were earning $675,000 on average in daily prizes.
Forbes, in the past week, puts the Skillz gaming community at over 30 billion players and says these gamers competed in over a billion tournaments on the platform in 2018. The total prize money paid out by Skillz to its top 10 players was $8 million. Notably seven winners out of the top 10 were women. One of them, Jennifer Park, earned $627,191 which supported the engineering student through college.
The Skillz platform now has over 20,000 game developers using it to add a “layer of competition,” as per Paradise, into their games. It partnered with the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) in September 2019 in order to offer the Skillz platform to its members to help them make their games more successful.
Gaming monetization is changing alongside player demographics. Decades ago, games were brought in store and taken home, there were no add-ons, updates, and there was no connectivity with other players.
Today’s gaming monetization model is often “free-to-play.” There are models like the Skillz games platform where developers and the platform itself can take a cut from players entering tournaments and players can win prizes. Other games are free-to-play, but players can purchase extra game features and items. Now too, blockchain is emerging as tool in the gaming and esports space. It allows gamers to really own and even trade their skins and game accessories and developers to create complete in-game economies for their titles.
Skillz CEO Paradise told Fast Company some of its creators “have built multimillion dollar businesses,” on the platform, and that many are smaller companies. The publication asks whether Skillz games can be classed as esports, when the industry’s top tournaments are about the audience watching the live action, as well as the prizes and play. Paradise says Skillz is still “early on the viewer.” He adds: “it took a long time for the competitive gaming industry to be built out on PC, to having competitive tournaments, to getting spectators. You’re going to see the same thing in competitive mobile gaming.”
Not only is the popularity of mobile gaming and mobile esports games growing, but mobile is set for a further boost as 5G networks go live across the globe.
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