Game tech startup Skillz today launched a service that allows brands to easily sponsor and host mobile e-sports tournaments for any game titles that they like, as long as they are already part of the Skillz platform.
As we’ve previously reported, Skillz enables developers to turn mobile games into tournament-playable titles without writing a ton of new code. Its technology operates as a kind of digital referee, making sure competitors of like skill are matched in competition, and that players face equal challenges.
Skillz also enables games to be played in compliance with all local and federal regulations for cash, prizes or points.
The company operates something of an online catalog of tournament-playable games, in which brand managers could easily discover titles they may like for potential sponsorships.
Skillz executives say that making mobile games into competitive ones will help developers generate more revenue, but also generate excitement and longer-term engagement in use of their entertaining products.
The company will split sponsorship revenues between brands and games on its platform. Specific terms of each sponsorship will depend on the popularity of a given game.
Besides launching their brand sponsorships feature today, Skillz was recently granted two new patents, bringing the company’s patent wins to four total.
Skillz CEO and founder Andrew Paradise said the patents cover two core elements of his company’s technology. “One is for the algorithm that enables Skillz to evaluate how much an outcome in a game is based on skill versus chance. It is based on Peter Winkler’s research at Dartmouth and solves a big problem for the e-sports industry,” he explained.
There has been significant debate and scrutiny paid by regulators around what constitutes a game of chance versus a game of skill online. Cash prizes are available for tournaments where games of skill are involved, but cash prizes for games of chance would be defined as gambling online, which is not legal throughout the U.S. today.
“The second patent we won,” Paradise said, “has to do with our integration technology. We have a portal for developers allowing them to integrate, self-service and implement e-sports into their games. We call it a tournament management system, or TMS, which is analogous to a content management system that you’d use to run a company website or other publication online.”
Skillz news comes as publicly traded companies like Activision, Electronic Arts, Amazon and even Facebook and Google are all making a push into e-sports.
More than 3,000 game studios are using Skillz’s platform to enable e-sports, or tournament plays, of their games today, the company reports.