Interested in learning what's next for the gaming industry? Join gaming executives to discuss emerging parts of the industry this October at GamesBeat Summit Next. Register today.
Mobalytics has raised $11.25 million for its gaming assistant platform, which offers an automated way to coach millions of wannabe pro gamers on League of Legends and other games. Providing analytics for such games might sound like overkill, but Mobalytics says more than 7 million players use its service, which delivers advice and information in real time.
“I’ve always wanted a companion application when I’m playing, and I think of it as similar to Google Assistant or Siri, but much more narrow in its focus for your gaming needs and wants,” Mobalytics co-CEO Amine Issa said in an interview with GamesBeat. “That’s our goal. That’s how we’re a little different from the rest of the competition.”
Issa aims to deliver intelligence and analytics both amateur and professional players can use in Riot Games’ League of Legends, one of the most popular games in the world, as well as Riot’s newer titles: Valorant, Teamfight Tactics, and Legends of Runeterra.
The Santa Monica, California-based Mobalytics provides info in an easy-to-understand dashboard, or an overlay on the game. The system uses in-game data available through publisher Riot Games’ applications programming interface (API) for its titles.
An obsession with performance
Issa was a competitive gamer when he was young. He got a doctorate in biomedical engineering, with a focus on human performance. That work focused on players in World of Warcraft, which Issa played as a pro gamer with the esports organization Fnatic. But the work also took him to study a range of high-performing individuals, such as Navy Seals, Mount Everest climbers, fighter pilots, elite athletes, long-distance runners, and deep sea divers.
“I was exposed to a lot of fascinating experiences,” Issa said. “I stayed at the basecamp at Everest, and I went out to Air Force bases and studied populations in the lab.”
Issa would track 60 distinct vital signs using what was once an expensive technology: eye tracking (which cost around $60,000 at the time). By following these experts’ gaze, Issa could figure out what they were thinking about and concentrating on. He was also able to track their cognitive decline, or when fatigue caused them to lose focus.
“The leading indicator was their gaze,” he said.
That has turned out to be useful for tracking gaming performance. Mobalytics teamed up with eye-tracking firm Tobii. That tech costs dramatically less now (around $200) and is being built into a number of gaming PCs.
When Issa tried to find work in the game industry, he had trouble landing a job. Then League of Legends took off, and Riot made the API for its game data publicly available. Issa cofounded Mobalytics with Bogdan Suchyk and Nikolay Lobanov in 2016 to build the “Moneyball of esports.” They participated in that year’s TechCrunch Disrupt event and won the Startup Battlefield contest.
“We automatically take inputs from your eye movements, and we correlate them with in-game data and we tell you things like ‘You weren’t looking at your minimap enough,'” Issa said. “‘In this fight, you were completely unaware of your surroundings.’ That’s a digestible metric.”
After getting attention, the cofounders raised $2.6 million in funding from Almaz Capital, Founders Fund, General Catalyst, and GGV Capital. Now the company has raised a new round, which Almaz Capital and Cabra VC led. Other investors include HP Tech Ventures, General Catalyst, GGV Capital, RRE Ventures, Axiomatic, and T1 Esports.
“The biggest thing is growing up playing games and looking at how the times have changed,” Issa said. “When we were young, we started in the days of Nintendo Power magazine, where you knew that if you had the issue of Nintendo Power, you knew how to pass a certain part of a game. We had Prima guide books. Then the internet came about, and it got really noisy and crowded. And the goal of Mobalytics is to give everyone, regardless of their skill or time investment, the information they need, when they need it, with whatever game they’re playing.”
Mobalytics has already established relationships with professional esports organizations such as Team Liquid, Golden Guardians, and T1. It’s also helped professional teams as a scouting resource. The company makes money through ads that run on the platform and subscriptions for those willing to pay for extra guidance.
With the influx of fresh capital, Mobalytics will further develop its gaming assistant through better analytics and personalization. The company will also continue to add new games. Mobalytics has 31 employees and plans to hire more engineers and additional product experts in the next six months.
In 2019, Mobalytics became the official data partner for Riot Games at the Honda Scouting Grounds (formerly LCS Scouting Grounds) player recruiting tournament and launched an eye-tracking data analysis for esports in partnership with Tobii. There were a lot of rivals for a while, but some of them have gone by the wayside, Issa said.
“We set out to do the ultimate gaming companion,” Issa said. “Obviously, we’re not there yet. We’re only in four games. But that’s where we’d like to be. If you look at the next five to 10 years, that’s the ultimate mission. And that’s why we raised money this time around, so that we can expand the team, hire more engineers, get more product people, and get to that goal.”
GamesBeat's creed when covering the game industry is "where passion meets business." What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you -- not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it. Learn more about membership.