- Skillz players have now won more than $100 million in prizes.
- Skillz is partnered with over 3,000 mobile game developers.
- Skillz has more than 12 million players from over 180 countries, 53% of which are female.
Mobile Esports: Should We Believe the Hype?
If there’s one thing gamers have scoffed at for years, it’s the idea that mobile gaming is a serious industry for serious gamers. The preferred platform of receptionists and mallrats hasn’t yielded the deep, complex experiences that hardcore gamers expect when it comes to their gaming content. That doesn’t mean the mobile industry isn’t growing, however. Newzoo reported in April that 42% of the current gaming market belongs to the mobile industry, with mobile devices projected to claim more than half the market by 2020. Surely it ends with passing time at lunch, right? Well, get ready, esports fans. You might be hearing about more than just Vainglory in the near future. When it comes to mobile esports, most discussions do, in fact, start and end with Vainglory. The mobile MOBA by Super Evil Megacorp has generated the interest of big esports organisations, and it might be moving to a larger, 5-on-5 format in the near future. In line with recent developments from Riot and Blizzard, SEMC is trying to migrate toward a localised system, with Fnatic claiming the London spot earlier this year. Though it still might seem like Vainglory is enjoying its success in a vacuum, Fnatic Chief Gaming Officer, Patrick Sättermon, says, “We believe there’s a bright future for mobile based esports which signals a shift from the PC-dominated titles until now.” That’s where Skillz, a San Francisco-based mobile esports company, comes in. Skillz is a pretty big deal when it comes to competitive mobile gaming. They recently received $28 million from investors, including $15 million from The Kraft Group, owners of the Boston Overwatch League team. Skillz also hired Kent Wakeford, former COO for mobile gaming developer, Kabam, to their board of directors. Wakeford is co-owner of the Seoul Overwatch League team. Skillz’ biggest project to date is their partnership with Beeline, a Capcom-owned subsidiary, to bring Street Fighter to a mobile audience with all the bells and whistles for match-making and tournament play. But what exactly is Skillz, you ask? Skillz CEO, Andrew Paradise, answered that question for me in a recent interview. “Skillz gives developers the technology stack and the opportunity to transform their mobile game into the next great electronic sport – one that is accessible to anyone, regardless of skill level,” Paradise says. “Developers can build better games through our free, ready-to-integrate, back-end technology that would otherwise cost millions of dollars and years to build. The Skillz platform programmatically organizes competitions...while preventing cheating, ensuring fairness, facilitating the distribution of prizes, and enabling spectatorship. We’re currently the esports provider for over 3,000 game studios, hosting an average of 500,000 tournaments every day.” It’s been a lucrative system thus far for Skillz. A spokesperson for the mobile esports platform provided me with some impressive stats: