There is a generational tidal wave out there that Rivalry co-founder and CEO Steven Salz says will heavily influence how we enjoy sports and esports betting. Tapping into this new generation of fans is a matter of understanding them and creating products that go beyond entrenched concepts.
This is precisely what Rivalry is doing in delivering exciting solutions such as its Rushlane MMOGG and setting up the basis of future success in both sports and esports. The esports betting vertical is already the fastest-growing one and Salz expects it to catch up to soccer and football in some markets in due time.
As Rivalry gears up for another exciting and action-filled year ahead, we elaborate on some of the important things about the company this year and beyond.
Can you define the next generation of bettors in sports and esports? Is Rivalry responsible for “cultivating it” or appealing to it?
Next-generation refers to those under the age of 30 years old. These are young Millennials and Gen Z, and together make up the largest generational cohort in history at approximately 40% of the world’s population. At Rivalry, we believe we are setting the tone and culture for sports betting among this demographic, with a specific focus on esports, or competitive gaming, which in many jurisdictions can be more popular than traditional sports among that age group.
From our perspective, this generation is looking for a more holistic entertainment experience wrapped around sports betting that feels less transactional. Just as they are reinventing how people view investing (ex. Robinhood phenomenon), they are also coming into the fold of sports betting and adopting the product in a different manner. The shift is from something transactional to more casual and entertaining.
Rivalry's esports platform is a perfect insight into how successful this sector can be. Do you reckon esports has an honest chance of “catching up” to sports in terms of betting volumes or it's hardly just about the size of the total handle?
In 5+ years we think in some markets it will catch up to some of the most popular sports such as soccer and football. Not just given the raw organic growth of esports, but the inevitable generational tidal wave whose sheer size will result in the volume getting there. Although we anticipate average deposit and bet sizes to remain smaller, we expect volume to more than makeup for this difference.
We expect more MMOGGs by Rivalry in 2022. Can you tease some of these projects? Will they continue to change how esports fans think of gaming? What's the goal with these games?
Certainly. A lot of our new concepts are around creating more of an open-world feel to Rushlane, and truly living up to this MMOGG concept. It goes back to the first question, and my answer around wrapping entertainment around the experience and reducing the sense of something transactional. If you compare the first Rushlane game, which is a multiplayer cyberpunk Mario Kart style game, to say a traditional slot, they are night and day. Rushlane is a social, casual, multiplayer experience, with live chat between players, and the ability to play at most one game every three minutes or so. A slot machine is a siloed solitary experience where every few seconds you can spin the wheel. The goal is to change the view of casinos to something that can be more about community building and creating a positive social experience with low stakes.
How far do you think esports betting will make it this year?
It is already the fastest-growing betting vertical as measured by annual betting handle growth. We expect this only to continue. We also think a number of new game titles are going to surface as popular betting titles and grow the mix. At the moment the top three esports titles being bet on are League of Legends, CS:GO, and Dota 2. These three have dominated since the first esports bet was ever struck, but times are changing. Valorant, a new first-person shooter game by video game publisher Riot Games, who make League of Legends, is surging in popularity, as are several mobile esports titles. We expect this year to see that shift in the game mix alongside the continued overall growth.
What is the biggest priority for Rivalry this year?
Our anticipated launch in two new regulated markets, Australia and Ontario; innovative product releases, demonstrating the power and scalability of our proprietary technology; new originally developed games to complement Rushlane and our MMOGG category; new content and media to continue positioning Rivalry as a market-leading brand at the forefront of internet culture; and launch in new geographies under our existing Isle of Man license to provide continuous user growth and brand reach across the globe.