With our research arm Rethink TV recently publishing a prosperous esports forecast (see separate story in this issue), a niche piece of recent M&A activity caught our eye as one particular potential cash cow within the wider emerging esports scene.
Esports technology start-up Cyberanking has been bought for a modest sum of $1.5 million by a company called Graph Blockchain, after contracting consulting firm Esports Capital to identify acquisition opportunities in esports and gaming verticals. Eventually settling on technology coined a gamified learning management system (LMS), Cyberanking’s platform aims to improve skills within esports with a focus on mental and physical health. Stay with us; we know the term blockchain might send some readers running for the hills but with a projected market value tacked to esports exceeding $5 billion by 2024, any emerging enabling technology is worth investigating.
Cyberanking’s core LMS technology is designed to ensure peak performance of esports players, comparing the critical nature of skills-based mental and physical health programs to actual sports. The platform works by delivering content which is dynamically tailored and organized in content with a focus on training and wellness relevant to esports. For Graph Blockchain, the acquisition provides it with an alternative revenue stream while also saying its own blockchain capabilities will enhance the Cyberanking LMS by addressing the need for data integrity, for example players’ personal data, rankings and scores.
This gamified LMS technology will benefit from Graph Blockchain’s private blockchain business intelligence and data management services, positioning itself as a pure play in the graph database technology space. The company says its proprietary integration of the AgensGraph Database engine with Hyperledger Fabric creates a transparent ledger with near real-time transactional data processing and intuitive data visualization – securing multiple prototype development contracts with multi-national conglomerates.
Central to the deal is newly appointed COO Adam Morrison, who has garnered a reputation in esports circles having been behind the construction of Las Vegas’ first purpose-built esports arena and studio, as well as producing a number of esports tournaments, and he has also designed several digital software assets.
“There are not many public company officers with the depth of esports and gaming experience that Adam brings to the role. His knowledge and contacts will no doubt prove to be invaluable as we build out this new and exciting division,” said Graph Blockchain CEO Jeff Stevens.
While generally associated more with cryptocurrency, we have seen blockchain emerging in the Faultline ecosystem within broadcast initiatives, most notably with Comcast’s Blockgraph platform.
Indeed, Comcast recently invested in a number of esports start-ups, one similar to Cyberanking called Pivan Interactive which offers an AI-based tool called Uncanny, designed to train budding esports players. Users (or athletes as the company calls them) can upload content of themselves gaming, citing global phenomenon Fortnite as the title where training commences, which Uncanny analyzes and churns out stats and analysis – claiming to not only establish why a user is playing a certain way but can identify areas for improvement compared to the best players in the game. Pivan has certainly carved itself a niche in a market of hundreds of millions of users – with Fortnite alone recently exceeding 250 million registered users.
We have also seen blockchain-based trials to identify and confirm whether online adverts have been opened and viewed. The expansion of blockchain is restricted however by the nature of networks, as non-cryptocurrency networks offer zero financial reward for sealing blocks, and therefore little motivation to provide compute resources to combat a bad actor.
Elsewhere, a couple of weeks ago, analytics vendor StreamMetrics claimed to have launched the world’s first audience measurement product dedicated to esports streaming. This integrates proprietary data from monthly market surveys with network and API data from social media platforms, incorporating metrics including age, gender, location, device type, and even income and ethnicity across massive audiences.
The underlying message here is that the esports opportunity is only just beginning.