Battlefy, a Vancouver-based eSports startup that builds a scalable eSports management platform, received $1.3 million in seed funding from a cadre of tech venture capitalists including Jarl Mohn, the former chairman of Riot Games.
Battlefy hopes to establish itself as the premiere management tool as more publishers and companies invest in eSports competition in the coming years. Eventually, it wants to be the “end-to-end technology solution for eSports,” a goal that is increasingly lucrative.
Battlefy’s website currently allows easy (if basic) tournament administration that has already powered more than 600 tournaments during a closed beta. An open beta with expanded features launches in two weeks. According to CEO Jason Xu, that’s only the beginning.
“We’ve built the foundation,” he told the Daily Dot, “it’s time to build the skyscraper.”
Xu says his team has engineered partnerships with studios, publishers, and various brands for the coming year that he hopes will drive the website toward popularity.
Battlefy, which has generated no revenue since it launched in Jan. 2012, has received $2.8 million in total investments over the last two years. The company plans to expand from its current group of seven full-time employees to 12 in the next three months.
“It was hard to keep investors from laughing the first time they hear that there are competitive leagues for video games and spectators watch the players compete,” Xu told the Daily Dot in a recent interview. Many of the potential investors he’s spoken to have never played video games, let alone heard of eSports.
“Then you show them the numbers in viewership and prize money and they sit back and think about how much time their kids spend watching game content on YouTube.”
Suddenly, he said, the tone changed.
Battlefy’s team of “advisors and investors” is packed with industry heavyweights that Xu says helped turn the tide in their favor.
When asked about specific revenue plans, Xu said everything is tied to Battlefy’s “future roadmap.”
“Our users have voiced to pay for add-on features,” he said, “so part of our revenue stream will be premium features/services.”
“I believe that eSports is the next big entertainment and marketing investment thesis,” said Jarl Mohn, former Chairman of Riot Games. “When Riot Games can sell out Staples Center in 20 minutes so people can watch video gamers compete something massive is happening. Battlefy is one of the few companies perfectly positioned to help make this happen and be a huge part of the success.”
One of Battlefy’s great challenges is to build a management tool that caters to the needs of a high school hobbyist in their basement and a global championship involving thousands of teams across three continents. The variety of organizers, games, and communities “create significant challenges in user experience design, scalability, and genre specific functionality support,” Xu said.
The company says it’s been working with “influencers across the [eSports] spectrum” to build a widely-useable tool.
But there is no illusion that revenue is right around the corner.
“Our investors recognize eSports as a long term play,” Xu said. Over the next year, we’ll get a much better idea of just how long it might take.