With thousands of players and millions of fans, eSports is big and getting bigger. In 2023, the eSports industry is estimated to reach US$3.75bn in revenue, and these numbers are only predicted to grow.
Where does all that revenue come from? Well, a good chunk of it comes from betting on eSports—US$2.13bn.
Behind the rise of eSports betting, there’s a number of technological advances that made it possible; innovations that help ensure security and enhance the experience for users. In this article, we’ll explore the technology behind eSports betting and how new developments like AI will continue to shape the eSports betting landscape in the future.
For All the Noobs Out There: What are eSports?
Let’s start with the basics: eSports are, in a nutshell, organized video game competitions. They are typically played by professional gamers in front of spectators, which can be a live audience in the arena or fans joining virtually via live stream (and later watching and re-watching afterwards). Even though competitions of this sort have long been part of video game culture, in the Western world they only attained the status of cultural phenomenon some time after 2010.
In that decade, widespread internet accessibility, the global ubiquity of smartphones, and the development of live stream technology allowed eSports to go from a niche pastime enjoyed only by a few, to a mainstream hobby enjoyed by millions of viewers. The numbers are incredibly impressive—according to eSports Charts, the 2022 League of Legends World Championship Finals reached 5.14 million concurrent viewers, totaling 141.9 million hours watched.
With those kinds of stats, eSports can rival some traditional sports in terms of reach with certain demographics—and in terms of profit.
How eSports Betting Is Winning Big
As an industry, eSports work just like the most popular of traditional sports. It incentives teams and players with serious prize money for championship titles, and encourages viewers to passionately support their favorite team. eSports also relies on the same markets to drive revenue as traditional sports: ticket sales, advertisements, sponsorships, media rights, and betting.
Part of what makes eSports betting so profitable is its demographics: eSports viewers are already familiar with the online economy, as the games themselves include intricate economic systems and even gambling mechanics like loot boxes. There’s not a giant leap from buying a bundle of special-event-only loot boxes, hoping to get the one rare item you want, to betting on your favorite eSports team and hoping to hit the jackpot that way.
eSports betting fans also tend to be quite familiar with mobile apps, which they use for, well, everything. Installing and using a mobile betting app is trivial for these users—but they still require a top-notch user experience. With all the action happening live on their other screens, viewers who are betting can’t afford a clunky experience. It’s crucial that the app they’re using to place their bets is quick, responsive and user-friendly.
At Plan A Technologies, we’ve worked on multiple eSports technologies and eSports betting platforms. Here are just a few of the things we need to incorporate to deliver a strong solution for our clients.
How to Build an eSports Betting Platform
Any eSports betting application needs to include a digital wallet that works with new and established payment and banking solutions to facilitate deposits and withdrawals. These solutions generally include payment gateways, cryptocurrencies, KYC (know-your-customer) and AML (anti-money laundering) solutions, and a whole lot of security. Some of the security measures these platforms use are advanced encryption, identify verification, two-factor authentication, and cold storage of crypto assets.
Marketing tech, also known as “martech”, plays a vital role, helping businesses create personalized marketing tools to reach new customers and to interact with existing customers. These solutions are intended to deliver highly personalized content to inspire the target audience to join in on the fun. The tools need to be able to know which games a customer likes, which incentives might be most relevant, which channels to reach out to them on, when to send the marketing message, and so on.
The betting solutions need to be easy and appealing to use, with plenty of different options to watch a match, get updates, challenge friends, view leaderboards, and more. One of the trickiest dynamics is to find the right balance of giving advanced users a wealth of options to customize their bets while not making those same options seem overwhelming and intimidating to new users.
Advanced data analytics tools are another important component. Users want the ability to quantify how they have been doing, and to analyze what’s happening in the eSports world to potentially modify their future betting behavior. They also want to be able to collect information such as tax forms at the end of the year. At the same time, the business running the eSports platform wants to be able to track user behavior across broad demographics and geographies to improve the user experience, identify new trends as early as possible, and see if their marketing and product improvement efforts are working or not. These insights help businesses make data-driven decisions and offer personalized recommendations.
eSports-betting platforms also have to be prepared for massive spikes in user activity, especially during major tournaments and high-profile matches. Reliable cloud technology, with load balancing and redundancy mechanisms, paired with scalable cloud infrastructure, is needed to ensure that these platforms can handle high concurrent user loads while maintaining a seamless and uninterrupted betting experience.
Another important piece of the puzzle: the integration of live-streaming, which allows for more fun and interesting betting dynamics. Live streaming of the matches better enables live betting, where users can make real-time wagers based on the evolving dynamics of the match. This can require significant work to get right, since as the action unfolds, the odds can often adjust to reflect the changing circumstances, offering a more engaging and dynamic form of betting.
Some platforms also offer jackpot betting, which gives users the chance to score a huge win for only a small bet on the outcome of several matches or events. There are also mystery jackpots, which can work in many different ways. One of the biggest draws of this kind of betting is that jackpots are usually progressive, meaning that the prize pool grows with each contribution.
eSports-betting platforms must prioritize clear and transparent rules for users. The technology platforms need to clearly show and explain the terms and conditions, betting rules, and payout structures—and then they need to enforce these rules. There are many features that need to be added to identify potential fraud, warn users, kick out rule-breakers, and more.
These platforms also often use geolocation services to verify the location of users accessing the platform, ensuring that users are in authorized regions and comply with the regulations that are in place in each region.
eSports-betting apps should definitely include responsible-gaming features that allow users to set deposit limits, wagering limits, and time restrictions. They can also provide links to resources for users seeking help with gambling-related issues, fostering a safe and responsible betting environment.
This is all just scratching the surface, of course. Building or enhancing these platforms is a big job, and requires continual, ongoing effort to keep the platform cutting-edge, reliable, safe, fun and compliant.
Need help with your eSports technology? At Plan A we love this stuff (quite a few of our folks are big gamers!) and we’d be excited to help. Just get in touch; we’ll get the ball rolling.