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Saturday, Sep 23, 2023

E-Sports App Bets on Rise In Popularity

After Erik Swanson’s first attempt at a sports wagering app didn’t work out, he spent a year transitioning it into one for e-sports, or video game competitions. His startup company eSports FTW, based in Chatsworth, is now just starting to market the free app to see if it will be more successful. “I wanted to get the app in a spot where I felt it was something I would use,” Swanson said. “It took a while.” At the San Fernando Valley office, there is one other employee in addition to Swanson. Programmers are located at another location. The company’s business model is to bring in revenue by selling ad space on the app. A visitor does not spend any money at the app’s website but instead logs in and receives a certain amount of coins for watching some ads. The visitor can then find the video game tournament he or she wants to wager the coins on. If the bet is a winner, the user receives a prize of additional coins. The visitor can also win “gems” that can be redeemed for prizes. Swanson said he prefers that visitors not give the site any money because it lessens the stigma attached to gambling sites. “Advertisers don’t like anything that is gambling-related, so we made the app as least ‘gambly’ as possible for being a wagering app on e-sports,” he added. The 30-year-old Swanson said that when he was competing in e-sports in his mid-teens, the prize pools were $500 or maybe $1,000 if you were lucky. “You were just happy to play in the tournaments,” he added. “There was not a lot of cash back then.” The popularity of e-sports has grown tremendously since then with video game companies getting actively involved in the competitions. Game publisher Blizzard Entertainment Inc., for example, will open in Burbank next month at Blizzard Arena Los Angeles, a venue just for e-sports tournaments that are played by professional and amateur video gamers. Last year, the North American e-sports market generated revenue of $275 million, according to online statistics company Statista Inc. Global revenues are expected to reach just more than $1 billion by 2019 when more than 1.5 billion people are forecast to be aware of e-sports content. To get his share of that pie, Swanson is going to ramp up marketing at eSports FTW in the coming months to see if the app will have a long-term future or not. “With a lot of apps you know right away within the first month or two after a launch if it’s going to go bonkers, if it’s fixable or if it’s not going anywhere,” Swanson said. “It’s a real crapshoot.” –Mark R. Madler

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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