Esports integrity is a particularly sensitive issue. With esports appealing to young audiences, many professional players in the making are underage. This opens competitive video gaming to some vulnerability.
Match-fixers are proliferating across the esports ecosystem, giving games and competitions a bad name, a problem that is now being addressed by the Esports Integrity Coalition, law enforcement, and not least data and technology companies such as Abios.
With the demand for fairness in esports growing, Abios' player age compliance solution is just one of the many steps that will make competitive video gaming safer. Abios is providing valuable information about player age, birthdays, expected rosters, and the number of underage participants in each team.
Abios states its ambitions out loud – to combat match-fixing and cheating in esports and effectively nip the issue in the bud amid escalating demand for competitive gaming and even esports betting.
Here with us, we have Niclas Sundell, Head of Sales at Abios, who will walk us through the process of keeping our favorite competitions safe.
Q: Of all the potential aspects of esports, why did you decide to invest time and effort in esports integrity?
Abios was founded eight years ago, in the dawn of esports. Our mission is to facilitate and enrich the esports experience, which stems from a deep knowledge and passion for the industry.
We have identified match-fixing, doping, cheating, and illegally placed bets as threats to the esports industry as a whole. These activities cast a shadow on the entire ecosystem and may affect its rate of growth, legitimacy, and public acceptance. The industry at large stands to lose credibility with these threats.
Hence, we want to be proactive in preserving the integrity of the matches. Not only by providing information and educating the market but also by creating products that help companies stay compliant and detect harmful activities efficiently.
Q: How is Abios able to provide esports stakeholders, be that players or tournament hosts, with the necessary tools to combat match-fixing and fraud?
We monitor all matches that we cover and provide customers with alerts when or if we see, find, or hear about any suspicious behavior. When we have access to server data from our rights partners, we are also able to analyze the gameplay, such as monitoring the reaction times of players to make sure that they are in line with what one would expect from humans.
We are also working on further solutions for allowing our customers to opt into sharing punter data in order to detect suspicious behavior.
Q: It's interesting that you focus on player age. In our experience, it's sometimes hard to find information about individual esports players. What was your motivation here?
We have seen a great demand for player age compliance products as several countries have put legislation in place to mitigate the offering of bets on games where players are under 18.
Since the sportsbooks want to be able to keep as many markets open as possible while being compliant with local regulations, we wanted to help by providing the necessary tools.
Q: How do you (plan to) address match-fixing and fraud, two buzz words we have mentioned several times now?
We are looking to continue exploring opportunities, in addition to those mentioned previously, for developing further products to detect match-fixing and fraud.
Q: What are the biggest challenges for companies and esports teams to stay compliant? It's one of your stated goals to assist esports organizations. Do you mean esports teams?
First and foremost, we want to educate the industry as a whole. That includes, but is not limited to, players, game publishers, teams, and other stakeholders. There are several cases where young players are lured into match-fixing incidents without knowing the legal consequences of their actions.
Moreover, the financial disparity between the major and minor leagues' prize pools is substantial, naturally making the smaller leagues more susceptible to the aforementioned incidents.
When it comes to compliance, sportsbooks must adhere to regulations in different markets but also make sure to monitor suspicious behavior from end-users.
Q: What is your biggest challenge in 2021, and how do you think you will expand your current offer in future months?
We are expanding the Abios offering on all fronts. In particular, we are this year allocating and significantly expanding our Widget and Odds teams. You can expect some groundbreaking new products coming from Abios.
The biggest challenge we are currently trying to solve is the lack of differentiation possibilities and the quality of esports odds offerings currently available. [That is one] of the difficulties in providing good user experiences while mitigating risk due to inherent delays in online tournaments. But this is a whole other discussion.