GameScorekeeper is in the business of esports data. The company started as a spark of ingenuity and prescience when founder Felix Klastrup brought together two of his own passions – video gaming and data analysis – into one neat wrapping.
Back in 2016, when GameScorekeeper was starting, Felix and his team focused on creating a platform that would serve as the basis of the company’s further expansion. This process took roughly two years and still drives GameScorekeeper’s product offering today.
Today, GameScorekeeper extends well beyond its initial offering owing to a strong underpinning product, but we will focus on the esports side of things and how demand for esports betting has changed over the past four years.
Felix has been actively working on expanding his company’s product, no doubt with the backing of trusted partners who recognized GameScorekeeper’s early-day potential. Felix has kindly taken out of his day to talk to us.
Q: What has changed for GameScorekeeper since you launched in 2016? In retrospect, have you been able to fulfill your original ambitions, or has business taken an unexpected turn along the way?
When I started out in 2016 GameScorekeeper was nothing more than an abstract idea in my mind about extracting results and stats from video games. Today, it’s a real company with offices, employees, and products that delivers value to our customers every day. So now that I think about it, it seems everything has changed since then!
Like all other startups, we’ve had to adapt the initial idea to the realities of what turns out to be possible and what doesn’t as well as the needs of our customers along the way. Being dynamic and diversifying to deliver products that solve our target audience’s problems is key to not only building great products but making a start-up successful.
Q: Is esports betting a viable part of the esports ecosystem? Do esports fans actually find the product appealing?
No matter what your personal view, gambling is part of every sports ecosystem. It’s just a fact. You see it in every major sporting event from football through to tennis and even ping pong.
For esports teams they of course have the need to generate sponsorship revenues. Tournament organizers create exciting tournaments which attract bettors, which not only increases viewership but also makes the reselling of the pre-match, live, and post-match data valuable, creating an important revenue stream.
I’m not convinced esports fans find the current esports betting product appealing as it’s often found on traditional betting sites where esports is relegated to a corner position between a long range of other sports.
Q: Do you feel esports betting operators are failing to live up to what is needed to get more consumers interested and is GameScorekeeper able to assist companies that are missing this mark?
I wouldn’t say failing, but there is a lot of work to do to bring the traditional sports betting experience closer to what an esports fan wants.
Up until recently, esports was treated as a filler or add-on category to a sportsbook so until recently there hasn’t been the right level of focus to really move the opportunity forward.
[Sportsbooks have been] trying to cross-sell esports to existing customers, who are predominantly traditional sports bettors and an older demographic.
What we’re now seeing is operators taking the first step into building a minimal viable product by improving the betting markets they offer. What we expect to see next, is a greater focus on the overall visual front-end experience and engagement features that talk to these potential customers.
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 visualizations, 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 that 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.
Q: Are non-endemic bookmakers truly able to appreciate the momentum of the esports betting scene or are they still thinking from the point of view of mainstream sports betting operators?
Most bookmakers appreciate and accept that the real opportunity comes from targeting the wider esports audience, who are a very different demographic, and as such the overall experience needs to change from what it is today.
The big challenge is how to reach and appeal to the emerging esports audience while managing existing revenue growth expectations from other areas.
We discussed the need for a very different product from what’s available today but achieving this is not an easy task for the established sports betting operators, especially when the level of investment is higher than the revenues currently being generated by esports wagering. The return on investment is likely to be realized further down the line so it's a hard sell with internal stakeholders.
This isn’t helped by the lack of understanding and experience of esports in some of these organizations.
To be successful, a clear product strategy, a vision that is supported by senior management, and then of course a budget, resources, and in-house expertise such as traders who understand the nuances of the individual games are needed.
This is likely to take time unless the strategy is to enter the market through acquisition.
Q: What are GameScorekeeper’s proudest achievements in 2021 and what do you think is next for your company in 2022?
We’re proud of the growth we’ve seen in 2021, which has been achieved through both powering esports offerings of new customers and strengthening our relationships with existing partners.
As an example, we are delighted to have further developed our relationship with DraftKings by providing them with premium support and active monitoring function that helps them simplify the day-to-day operations of their esports fantasy product.