GameScorekeeper: Why betting on esports should be “subtle and secondary” to entertainment
Felix Klastrup, founder and CEO at GameScorekeeper, explains how it has developed into a specialist esports data provider, helping its customers grow and adapt to the ever evolving esports industry.
He talks about building the data platform that remains the foundation for its products today, starting out with the ‘perfect customer’ in Pinnacle, creating an ‘entertainment-first’ environment and why the future of esports betting will be a very different experience from the traditional format you see today.
SBC: Can you start off by telling us a bit about GameScorekeeper’s background? What were the key objectives driving the launch in 2016?
FK: I started GameScorekeeper as a fusion of my two main interests: video games and data analysis. Esports was not yet mainstream back in 2016, but it seemed clear to me that the market would eventually be huge, so I took a chance and quit my corporate career to found the company.
It was a classic startup story of trying to find investors without more than an idea and hiring software developers without funding, but eventually I managed to convince enough people about the potential and get the project underway. After that, we spent the first two years of the company’s lifetime just building the data platform that is still the foundation for all our products and services today.
SBC: And fast forward to the present day, who do you work with now? And how have your services developed over the last five years?
FK: Although we have customers across the media and fantasy sports industries, the betting industry is where we started, and along with fantasy sports, is where we feel the biggest opportunity exists.
After the initial phase of perfecting our technology, we started working with Pinnacle to supply our raw data services to help them build and compile their betting markets. This was the perfect customer for us as they required high quality data and a supplier who could offer a bespoke solution which they could rely on.
We differentiate ourselves by working closely with each of our customers to understand their business objectives and product needs and then tailoring our services to meet them.
An example of this is how we work with DraftKings. Historically they have manually monitored and settled the matches they offer as part of their fantasy sports business.
This takes up a huge amount of resources which could be focused on other areas. They also had a unique way of calculating CS:GO clutches for example, so we adapted our product to take this into consideration and now offer a monitoring service so they can fully automate and outsource this requirement.
So to summarise, over the years we have developed into a specialist esports data provider delivering bespoke solutions to help our customers grow and adapt to the ever evolving esports industry.
SBC: Did Covid-19 have much of a bearing on your product roadmap over the last 18 months? If so, what changed about your approach?
FK: Covid-19 did not significantly change our roadmap but it definitely influenced it in a positive way. During the early stages of the pandemic there was an increased interest in esports and that led to increased awareness internally within betting operators and they also gained a better understanding of what they need to build a successful esports offering.
So we’re now seeing a greater interest in other esports game titles, scoreboards to create a better experience and the need to offer a stronger front-end better suited to the esports fan.
SBC: What are some of the challenges you hear operators have when addressing this market? And how are you helping them?
FK: I think most betting operators know and understand they will only have marginal success within esports by simply adding a generic selection of esports betting markets into a traditional sports betting environment.
Yes there is some crossover with their existing customer base, especially with more recognisable titles like CS:GO, but that’s not where the real opportunity lies.
The big challenge is how to reach and appeal to the emerging demographic and not to get left behind while still managing expectations within your existing business and revenue streams.
I believe you need a very different product to be really successful in this space. The offering needs to be much more sophisticated, every game title should be treated as a separate “sport” for example, each with a unique offering.
And achieving this is not an easy task for the established sports betting operators. It requires a clear product strategy, a vision which is supported by internal stakeholders and then of course a budget, resources and in-house expertise such as traders who understand the nuances of the individual games.
Operators will likely take a phased approach to develop their esports product, or they may acquire esports first brands at a later stage once they’ve adapted and innovated their offering to appeal to this new generation of fans who can then be converted to bettors.
SBC: Who are the key people now leading the company to success?
FK: Everyone on the GameScorekeeper team is part of leading the company to success. Our customers may only meet and hear about our experienced CCO Marc Burroughes and myself, but we couldn’t deliver value to our customers without our great software developers, visual designers, customer supporters and wider commercial team.
We’re extremely lucky to be based in a wonderful city where there is a high population of university students who are also enthusiastic esports fans. This is an enormous help as we can quickly recruit bright and talented young people that are well-versed in esports.
SBC: And finally, what’s next for the esports industry? What can you learn from talking to operators about what they want to see next from the supply side? And how can you continue to stand out from other like-minded companies?
FK: At GameScorekeeper we believe that the future of esports betting will be a very different experience from the traditional format you see today. Esports fans are different, they have grown up with and are used to having social and entertaining technology available at the click of a button.
Creating a truly entertaining experience first, where fans can immerse themselves in a dedicated esports space with like minded people will draw in the numbers.
In our opinion betting will be a subtle and secondary option in this environment but it will also be better tailored to the esports fans, such as providing specialist player proposition and micro markets.
This product will have editorial content, great statistical visualisations, predictions to make more informed betting decisions, live video streams and community aspects such as chat rooms and streamers.
Of course this won’t be easy and will come with its challenges. For now, the obvious place to start is to build a base offering which has better markets and a more suitably designed front-end which resonates with the esports fan and generates a higher level of engagement.
This is where we see our expertise coming into play, we consider ourselves as not only a data specialist, but also a front-end supplier who can help our clients take the steps needed to build the entertaining esports betting experience of the future.