A number of people who play Minecraft on video are making a decent living, and it’s an industry that is growing — especially among young people. Now, one company has hired one of these “young people” to reach out and expand its roster of content creators.
Jake Flositz is 18 years old, and he is in charge of developing the relationship between YouTube and Twitch video makers and his company, Beachfront Media. This is a firm that is trying to build what it calls an “off-YouTube” solution for people with an established audience. Beachfront has an app that it can customize for each of its partners that will serve up original videos directly to fans. Examples include Call of Duty pro EliteShot and Minecraft streamer Gizzy Gazza.
Of course, Beachfront works with non-gaming video content as well, but the growth of games as a form of entertainment on sites like YouTube and Twitch has the company actively pursuing more partners in this space. And that’s exactly why it needs Flositz.
Beachfront is using this young guy as their ambassador to these megagamers. Beachfront chief executive officer Frank Sinton repeatedly told me that Flositz knows his stuff. He’s very knowledgeable of the gaming scene but also gets streaming and YouTube as well. Potential clients respond to that, and it makes them more open to working with Beachfront.
“It’s been going very well,” Flositz told GamesBeat.
He described his process to me and said that he’s mostly focused on Minecraft players these days.
“I’m an avid Minecraft player myself,” he said.
Flositz doesn’t just play businessman and send off a few emails or make a few calls. He actually goes and plays with the people he wants to use Beachfront. It’s like a digital-era golf meeting. This kind of direct connection — where the creator is most comfortable — is vital to making deals.
“From some of the clients I’ve talked to, I’ve definitely heard that they’ve been approached by other app companies,” Flositz said. “But they feel like, with Beachfront, they’re more connected with me. I have their personal Skypes. We chat all the time and make sure everything is perfect. I’m basically just a chatbox away. You chat or call, and I’m instantly there. It’s very easy with Beachfront, compared to other app companies, from what I’ve heard.”
Because gamers have really taken the lead in shaping what video content looks like on the web, creators often want to work with other gamers. They’re more trusting if they feel like the partner they’re working with is one of them.
“They really like that,” said Flositz. “I’m also a gamer, and that seals the deal for them. They know that I know what they want and what they need to bring their community together through the app.”
One of those things that Flostiz understands is that YouTube stars and Twitch broadcasters aren’t all just looking for another revenue stream. They want an easier way of connecting directly with their community.
“Currently, YouTube comments are really spammy,” said Flositz. “It’s hard to reach your fans there. Our app, I think, is the best way to reach fans. Twitter is maybe the next best, but there are so many people using Twitter all the time and trying to ping you all the time. It’s hard to respond. In our app, we have a separate comment system. It’s really easy to connect with your fans.”
“Exactly,” Sinton added. “YouTubers don’t want to take a lot of time away from creating their own content. When they think about an app, they think it’s a lot of work. But in reality, I’m pretty much the account manager. I’ll completely create the app and be there pretty much 24/7 helping them perfect the app. If they don’t like anything about the app, I’ll change it. It’s a seamless process. I create the app, launch it, stream it, host it. They don’t have to do anything. They just connect with their fans through the app.”
Making streamers and broadcasters happy is important. It’s one of the driving forces behind the company’s business model.
“We’re not charging [creators to build their apps],” said Sinton. “We’re going to earn revenue through advertising. We’re also looking at subscription as a potential way to monetize. Our strategy really revolves around not just advertising but also additional things that gamers can do for their fans to further engage. We’re playing around with different models right now.”
Those models will only take off if big names, like EliteShot, get on board. The bigger the personality, the more money both the creator and Beachfront stand to make. It’s why Sinton works so hard to make sure they are happy with the final product. It’s why they have Flositz maintaining these one-on-one relationships with people.
And it’s starting to work.
EliteShot’s app, called EliteShot HQ, debuted in January. Several thousand people have already downloaded it, according to App Annie stats and the Google Play store. These are likely his biggest fans, and now they have more direct access to him.
For Flositz, Sinton, and the rest of Beachfront, this is just the start.
“We are starting to get a network effect,” said Sinton. “Where we’ll launch one app for someone, they’ll tell their friends, and then they say, ‘Hey, I want one, too.’ We’re trying to do it in a smart way with the advertising, where we’re not inundating the top fans of these gamers with commercials. Our end goal is to create a large network of apps that we operate that gamers enjoy.”