More Games, More Swag: Skillz Enters The Real-Money Fray

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
| The video game industry has gone from a mole hill to a mountain in no time flat, Chris DiMarco is your Sherpa as you endeavor to scale Mount “Everquest”

More Games, More Swag: Skillz Enters The Real-Money Fray

It's been something of an increasing development lately that games are allowing users to compete in real tournaments for real money. We've seen several examples of this already, and now, we're about to get one more with the release of Skillz, a platform that allows gamers with the aforementioned skills to put same to the test on a platform where users compete for the real-money prizes.

Gaming for money is not specifically new. We've already seen the rise of the e-sports phenomenon, but this is different; a much more accessible overall platform that essentially allows players to put wagers on their own skill, though in 37 states in the United States, it's not really considered a wager. The rest either consider skill-based gaming a form of gambling, or just haven't set up legislation allowing such games to go on. Users fund an account using a variety of methods, and then pay a tournament fee to play. The tournament fees then go to pay Skillz as well as the game developer, while the competitors go after the cash prize.

So far the reaction has been brisk to say the least. The community, according to Skillz's co-founder and chief operating officer Casey Chafkin, is growing by around 10,000 users per day, with a total of 1.5 million accounts total on hand, a number that's rapidly growing. What's more, users are actually happy about the monetization scheme, specifically referring to it in reviews of the games themselves as a high point.

Skillz likely won't be alone in this industry long, as a report from Frank N. Magid Associates pegs the skill-based gaming sector as set to reach nearly $9 billion just by 2017, and just in the U.S alone. By the time the world is factored in, this could be a very big market indeed. With good reason, in all honesty; this is just a start of what's likely to be a movement in the future.

Stop and consider, for a moment, the cost of a sports stadium. Whether to private concerns or to taxpayers, the cost to keep the Staples Center or even your local minor-league ballpark is pretty substantial when the cost of facilities, maintenance and everything else goes in. Factor in players' salaries and the costs get downright amazing. Now, take the same model applied to retail operations that went online and apply it to sports. Suddenly, the costs fall through the floor. Maintenance, facilities, mostly gone. Players' salaries, plummeted; you can find plenty of 18 year olds willing to game for one day for $100-$200 pretty easily. Now, suddenly, you have a sports league that has explosions, violence, bloodshed, and mayhem...for a fraction of the cost of the much tamer “real-world” version. All you have to do is convince viewers to show up and watch the proceedings, online, from their own home, and boom; it's the perfect replacement for sports. Vastly cheaper, more entertaining, and with facilities so good it's like no one ever left home. Because they didn't.

Things like Skillz and Lootsie, meanwhile, represent something of the minor-league in this particular analogy. Or at least the start of it; we've got people getting together to play games for a cash prize; consider what would happen if that were live-streamed. What would be the functional difference between watching four people play “Strike! Real Money Bowling” on Skillz and watching four guys on the pro bowling tour? Virtually none that I can see.

This could be the start of something very big indeed, but the question is, can it go on? It's the kind of thing that only time will tell in the end, but it may well be the perfect answer to at least some people's questions.

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