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E-sports is one of the fastest-growing aspects of gaming, and several companies are looking to it for new marketing and revenue opportunities. That led Beyond Gaming to develop a website for amateur and casual players to participate in game competitions.
Beyond Gaming currently works with certain PC and console games, although it plans to move into social and mobile titles this fall. The website enables players to create an account and begin competing against other people of a similar skill level in games like TrackMania, ShootMania, and StarCraft II.
“We work with major publishers to run online competitions,” Beyond Gaming chief executive Blaine Graboyes told GamesBeat. “We definitely try to run what we consider ‘casual competitions.’ Our closest partner is Ubisoft for whom we run The Next Level — its global, casual competition endeavor.”
The company has an application-programming interface (API) that provides to its publishing partners that lets it fully integrate with a game. An API is a program that enables programs to communicate with one another. In this case, it lets certain games send data back to Beyond Gaming.
“What that lets us do is create better matchmaking and make it easier for players to get into competitions,” said Graboyes. “Most importantly, it lets us automatically report the results of competitions.”
Graboyes says this is one of the key ways Beyond Gaming is different — and better — than other tournament websites.
“Most of the other competitive-gaming websites use one form or another of the honor system,” he said. “Where the different competitors are voting to say who won. Sometimes their uploading screenshots, but obviously that leaves a lot of room for disputes and cheating.”
Beyond Gaming skips all that. Its API automatically matches players up with others of a similar skill level, and then it will automatically know who won without having to rely on player input.
Competitions include the month-long Rayman Legends Showdown that is happening right now. Players can join Beyond Gaming for free, hook up their gaming account to the website, and start competing in daily challenges for prizes from companies like Astro Gaming, Gunnar Optiks, and ElGato Gaming Gear. It doesn’t matter what platform you’re on; they are all compatible.
“The core competition pattern on our site is something called ‘Play For It.’ That’s where two or more competitors compete in a single match and the winner gets an instant prize,” said Graboyes. “The instant prize we’ve found to be most successful is a $10 gift certificate to [restaurants like] Subway, Chipolte, Burger King, and Papa Johns — stuff like that.”
Even while Beyond Gaming is offering up substantial prizes to the best players, it is still trying to keep the service friendly to more casual gamers.
“There’s a ton of things we do to keep it really friendly. One is just the games we support,” said Graboyes. “While we do support e-sports titles, our current big event is for Rayman Legends, which is a mainstream platformer that never really had a competitive aspect. We also have an event format that is based around our standings. We match players of similar skill levels, but we’re also all about rewarding participation.”
In certain competitions, you might get three points for winning, but you could also get one point just for finishing.
“It’s not uncommon where we have a player near the top that doesn’t have the highest win-loss ratio but is the most active,” said Graboyes.
And while the top players might get the best prizes, Beyond isn’t afraid to hand out rewards to a huge number of the participants. In most events, the service actually pays out rewards to more than 50 percent of the players.
“We’re actually trying to bring that up,” said Graboyes. “We’ll have some events soon where over 100 percent of the gamers win prizes for competing in an event.”
Of course, players can’t just join any event they want for free. Competitions often require a minimum buy in of so many “tokens,” which is the service’s proprietary currency. A hundred tokens is equivalent to $1, but the more you buy the better the deal. You can get 10,000 for $80.
That’s not the only way Beyond Gaming is generating revenue. The aforementioned Rayman Legends event that is running this month doesn’t have a buy in. The company is hoping to create lucrative partnerships with publishers such as its deal with Ubisoft, where they promote their games with e-sports events to a massive audience of players.
Ubisoft is a publisher that is always trying to make e-sports work with its games. It previously attempted to draw that crowd into its ShootMania game that it developed specifically for competitions. E-sports gamers did not adopt ShootMania. It’s unclear if Beyond Gaming will find a way to connect with gamers or if it will suffer a similar fate.