micro betting
Flavien Guillocheau (Source: PandaScore)

A ‘playground for innovation’: Why esports must move past the technical issues to embrace new betting experiences

Micro betting can be a great way to fill the downtime, both in the absence of events to bet on and if the gameplay itself is just ‘boring’.

That was a view expressed by PandaScore CEO Flavien Guillocheau in the final part of an exclusive series on the power of data in esports.

Click in to read the first two parts on latency in esports and the live data disconnect.

Those familiar with the first two parts will know that we have explored the data disconnect in real detail. Put simply, you can’t watch the stream to effectively guide your next bet as the data feed is too far ahead. On the flip side, your viewing experience might be impacted if you can work out what happens next in the stream based off how the odds have moved.

Given the issues with speed of data, and what we’ve discussed about Guillocheau’s own preference to hold back data so the live odds align better with the live stream, you might conclude that micro betting – otherwise known as prop betting – is not the way to go, at least at this stage of the esports journey.

But for the PandaScore CEO, the demand for these markets only heightens the need for esports to move past the technical issues. He also told us that esports should be more of a ‘playground for innovation’ – explaining that its fans are tech-savvy, demand high-quality products and aren’t afraid of diving into new things.

He said: “When you’re talking to esports fans, you’re talking to a different demographic and different types of people. So you have to speak to them and build something for them. An esports fan wants higher engagement and interaction in real-time.” 

It was also really interesting to hear him use the word ‘boring’. We’ve heard so much over the last year about cross-selling new products, but mostly in the context of when your preferred betting pastime – whether it be sports, casino or esports – is not available because of scheduling, rather than it is there but with a lack of excitement.

This is what he said: “I was discussing the League of Legends World Championship with a few esports fans I know. And they were basically saying that some matches were extremely boring. And so they were doing something else at the same time. 

“This might be on the Discord channel talking to their friends or even playing another game. In every type of entertainment, esports included, there is downtime. And I think micro betting is a great way to fill that downtime.”

He acknowledged that the data disconnect makes it extremely difficult to build new betting experiences, such as advances to micro betting markets, but it is certainly ‘doable’.

One of the concerns associated with ‘slowing’ the release of data to chime with the live stream is that it becomes more corruptible – i.e someone with access to the data server, or even a referee, somehow getting this information to the wider betting public.

Yet, for Guillocheau, the complexity (from a betting perspective) associated with distributing the data immediately is “basically screwing the vast majority of punters to protect against the rare threat of corrupted members”.

He added: “So long as the tournament organiser and the data provider are working hand in hand to protect the integrity of the data, a delay to improve the whole betting experience is doable. I’m not necessarily worried about this.

“It’s just a bottleneck that you have to work on. If that relationship between organiser and data provider is right, you can even start by having one tournament doing it and the others not doing it – it’s not a problem. You can build it up progressively.”

To conclude, we returned to this idea that esports – given its relative infancy and the tech-savvy nature of its fan base – should become much more of a playground for innovation.

Guillocheau cited the example of NFTs, adding: “It seems to me that it should be super natural for gamers to embrace the concept,” he said. “Yet, there are far fewer examples of NFTs, crypto or blockchain-based games in esports compared with sports or fantasy sports.

He also touched on skin betting, and its connection to NFTs: “We saw CS:GO skin gambling explode several years ago and this could be a way to onboard esports fans interested in betting. CS:GO skins are completely cosmetic – they’re basically NFTs before NFTs. 

“Some skins could be worth 10 other weapons, or several thousand dollars. CS:GO publisher Valve had the very interesting idea to allow those items to be traded between accounts – essentially creating a marketplace in the same way with NFTs you have liquidity. 

“People then started using this for betting and created an industry at the time that had problems, lacked regulation and created a bubble of sorts. Regulation has been progressively implemented and there is still a lot to do, but you now have licensed operators who incorporate skin betting.

“What’s really interesting about this is the path from gamers using in-game assets in new ways that they weren’t aware of and used to, to a medium where the bet volume is huge today.

“It’s one way to engage differently because it’s not coins or money you’re betting with, it’s skins and I think for esports fans this is something that really makes sense.”

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