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The slow rise of Skillz | Pocket Gamer.biz

Most CEOs are focused on growing their business.

But that’s easy. For the past decade, Andrew Paradise, CEO of Skillz, has pondered the creation of an entirely new business model for mobile game developers.

It was a slow build-up.

Despite Glu Mobile’s early pull, Skillz struggled to convince developers to sign up for the integration of its competitive rewards and real-money esports platform.

This was partly due to the novelty of the concept at a time when F2P and IAP were also becoming the standard and very successful business model.

For many studios, it wasn’t clear that the additional revenue generated with Skillz was worth the cognitive dissonance.

The platform works by allowing players to pay to enter tournaments with either real money and / or other real-world rewards, with Skillz and the game’s developer taking a small wiggle room of the prize pool.

Note that this is not a game of chance as winning the prize requires skill and is not based on chance, hence the term skill based real money play.

However, Skillz had to overcome many legal problems; in the US, like most countries, every state has its own specific set of rules. This makes it much more difficult to scale the platform globally and also adds to developer inertia.

In the big leagues

However, since Skillz had $ 282 million in sales in 2020 and is now a Nasdaq-listed company with a market cap of $ 3 billion, the situation has changed significantly.

“The move to a publicly traded company has encouraged higher quality developers for the platform,” says Paradise.

The recent fruits of this elevated status were seen with a partnership with Play Mechanix and the release of Big Buck Hunter: Marksman, a specialty Skillz-enabled version of the classic US hunting game.

The Skillz platform really makes sense when developers go out of their way and base their games on it instead of treating them as an additional incremental source of income.

Etermax has also announced a new game in the Trivia Crack universe that will be the first trivia game to offer real rewards.

And this approach has been a turning point for the company and the business model in recent years. The Skillz platform really makes sense when developers go out of their way and base their games on it instead of treating them as an additional incremental source of income.

Big Run Studios are a great example of this. Founded in 2019 with investments from Skillz, all of its mobile games to date, including Blackout Bingo and Big Cooking, have been built on the Skillz platform.

Perhaps even more important in the future, however, was the way in which Skillz used the capital it was able to raise from its listing.

In the past few months, it has signed an exclusive partnership with multiplayer technology company Exit Games, which is also spending $ 50 million on a minority stake. It also spent $ 150 million buying the adtech company Aarki.

Synergies from these deals will allow Skillz to better optimize its platform in terms of the technical aspects of the games it can support and to better monetize the players.

“These deals help us take our business to the next level,” explains Paradise.

Likewise, Skillz’s long-term deal with the NFL, which also resulted in a mobile game developer competition advertised during the 2022 season, is a sign of how far the company has come in recent years.

“Our vision has always been for everyone to enjoy competing, and we have provided that opportunity in a fair, fun, and deceptive way,” explains Paradise.

“Now we’re expanding with the growth of mobile gaming, both geographically and in terms of the game developer category that the developers are committed to.”

In this context, Skillz – currently a US-centric company – will launch its first products in the fast growing Indian market in the coming months.

So ten years later there is still everything to play.


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