With offering more than 700 payment systems Xsolla is one of the biggest billing solution providers worldwide. Game companies like Ubisoft, Crytek and Twitch employ Xollas’ services to provide in-game payments. Now, the company with global operations makes its first steps into the growing eSports market by introducing the ‘Xsolla eSports Academy’.
Therefore we sat down with Ernest Chung, Project Manager at Xsolla eSports Academy, to discuss the features of the new project and the short- and long-term objectives they’re looking to achieve.
Hello Ernest, up to this point Xsolla had a very limited connection to eSports. Now that you have introduced the ‘Xsolla eSports Academy” this connection has become pretty intense. Can you please tell us what the ‘Xsolla eSports Academy’ is all about?
Ernest Chung: Xsolla eSports Academy is an intuitive video game Coaching and VOD subscription platform available worldwide for all top eSports titles. Backed by Xsolla’s leading PayStation 3.0 solution, Xsolla eSports Academy allows Students, Coaches, and Schools (Pro Organizations) to sign up, create their own profile, and start booking sessions/earning money doing what they love.
Our platform holds a few very important competitive advantages such as being truly available worldwide for everybody (Xsolla’s PayStation 3.0) with over 700+ payment methods, covering ALL eSports titles, as well as 5 supported languages. We have a robust anti-fraud system, 24/7 customer support, and not to mention that we’ve been working in the gaming industry for over 10 years now!
How did the idea come about of developing such a platform?
Ernest: Without any doubt, eSports has been quite an exciting and passionate area of interest for our team and we constantly thought to ourselves, “How can we become a part of the eSports industry and help improve the community?”
Since we already had this amazing, technologically advanced billing and payments platform currently in-place exclusively for the gaming industry (Xsolla’s PayStation 3.0), we saw that we had a great opportunity and an advantage over competitors to create an educational Coaching platform which could be available worldwide for all popular games.
Ultimately, we wanted to allow gamers, no matter where they were located around the world, to have equal opportunity to showcase their in-game abilities and potentially, earn some revenue doing what they love.
Coaching is seen as a naturally positive service which is meant to help accelerate your perception and gameplay by attaining previously unknown methodologies and knowledge from someone at a higher (or PRO) level. With this in mind, we have scoured the globe for top talent in the most popular eSports titles such as Hearthstone, Dota 2, CS:GO, Starcraft II, League of Legends and more.
Xsolla is known for focusing on the B2B market, but the ‘Xsolla eSports Academy’ definetely shows another approach …
Ernest: To answer this question I would like to quote our CEO, Aleksandr Agapitov: “Acceleration of progress in-game is a classic monetization model found in many games (especially F2P). Because of our position in the industry, we’ve added our own flavor to accelerating eSports worldwide. If you really believe in doing what you love, money and success will follow eventually and we hope avid gamers and eSports enthusiasts worldwide will be as excited about the platform as we are!
eSports is often used as a marketing tool to promote products or brands, but this sounds like you are full of ambition to create a scaling business model. How much marketing tool and how much business model is behind the Xsolla eSports Academy?
Ernest: Although we will have a spot on the Xsolla eSports Academy to showcase our partnerships and sponsorships (currently we are partnered with XSplit), the Academy will be primarily focused on providing the highest quality Coaching service and convenience for our Students and Coaches located worldwide. Already established eSports websites can use this opportunity, however, to connect with us and offer an additional Coaching service to their gamers through a simple integration.
Can you tell us a little bit more about the business model?
Ernest: Currently, Coaches and Schools who sign up at the Xsolla eSports Academy can set up their personal profiles, fill their “Sessions” calendar, and upload VOD’s for subscription. Coaches and Schools can earn revenue by offering hourly Coaching sessions available on the Coach Calendar and charge whatever they want. They can also earn revenue by uploading VODs, Tips & Tricks, and other cool videos to their VOD Subscriptions folder which is exclusively available for subscribers (Coach sets this price).
On the flipside, we also see a ton of potential partnering and working with already established eSports sites for statistics, tournament set-up, news/PR, streaming, etc. For these types of partnerships, we introduce the Partners Program.
What are the benefits of the Partners Program?
Ernest: There are many benefits to joining our Partners Program but it is essentially a method of adding an extra “Coaching” service to your platform or established website through a simple integrated widget or button. Our platform is secure, ready, and available worldwide for your users to join. Anybody referred and tracked as being sent from your website will be valid for the revenue share as a part of the Partners Program.
For every hour Coached, we take 30% broken down by: 10% for the Xsolla and Payment Fee, 10% for Xsolla eSports Academy Revenue, and 10% for the Partner Revenue Share.[metaslider id=2387]
Despite getting a share of 10 percent of the Xsolla eSports Academy revenue, do you plan any additional measures to benefit from the platform?
Ernest: We plan on operating and constantly improving our Academy platform with the 10% share we receive from Coaching sessions and Partners Program. For our next steps, enhancing the convenience of the Partners Program and developing an easy-to-use widget will be our focus.
Did you come across any difficulties?
Ernest: The main difficulty was measuring what our Coaches, Students, and Schools wanted as far as functionality on the platform. Our early Coaches really helped us out and provided the feedback necessary to shape the Academy to what it is today after using the platform themselves. It’s definitely a work in progress but we’re very excited with what’s come about so far!
Developing a platform which is mostly driven by user-generated-content always includes the risk to experience a loss of quality. How do you plan to avoid that?
Ernest: We plan on providing the highest quality Coaching experience on the Xsolla eSports Academy platform. Although because it is a user-generated-content platform, we cannot account for all Coaches, we can provide the simplest and easiest tools to use on the platform to generate high quality content. Partners established in the industry such as XSplit help us to provide that extra specialized service to our users around the world as well.
You just finished the beta phase and opened up the Xsolla eSports Academy for anyone. What are the next steps?
Ernest: Well, now the Xsolla eSports Academy is officially launched so we have to see how the reception is, which parts we need to improve on, and ask our users what they would like to see developed next! Currently, we have a ranking system, tournament style brackets, and the Partners Program Widget/Button being developed so stay tuned for updates!
Thank you for the interview and good luck for your future endeavors.
— eSportsMarketingBlog (@eSportsMBlog) March 22, 2016
- Xsolla eSports Academy: Official Website – xsolla.com
- Xsolla: Official Website – xsolla.com
- Brands in eSports – Red Bull: King of content marketing – esports-marketing-blog.com