In just one month (January 2019), Amazon-owned streaming platform Twitch generated 1.9 million hours of live video content; they saw an average of 12,982 streamers per day.
Meanwhile, esports content creators are becoming stars, as the industry is predicted to hit $1 billion for the first time in 2019. For these digital players, maintaining close relationships with their fans is top of mind.
Growing up, Gordon Li spent a lot of time playing video games. With the rise of YouTube and Twitch content creators, that passion turned him into a video game spectator.
“I was a huge fan of watching content creators play on Twitch. That’s where the idea came from: we love watching them play and we like them as people,” Li tells Hypepotamus.
“What if we had the chance to play with them?”
Esports content creators sometimes offer sub-games — a side game, separate from their main public stream — for fans, but they’re difficult to coordinate and book.
There was no way to easily schedule a time that works for both the player and the fan. If a popular players simply puts the request out there to the public, they get bombarded with requests.
“A lot of the gaming community just wants to be part of something new. We offer them a chance to monetize their content without all the red tape and hoops to jump through with a platform like Twitch and Youtube,” says Li, now CTO.
A player onboards to Shotcall is fairly quickly, creating a profile and setting up a session. The UX is similar to creating a Facebook event.
They can add details to the session such as type of console, the chosen game, time blocks, and a description.
Then they select a type of session — a standard session where fans request to play, a raffle session to host a giveaway, or a queue session based on first come-first serve. Players price the session as they see fit and announce it during their public streaming sessions.
All payments and scheduling are completed through the Shotcall app. There’s also a built-in chat for communication prior to the session.
The app gives fans the opportunity to be in the drivers’s seat as well.
“On the flip side, content creators won’t be the only ones creating sessions, since there’s such a high demand to play with them. As a fan, you can go to their profile, click request a one-on-one session, and put in an offer or donation,” says Li. The player can accept or decline depending on his schedule.
This can lead to significant revenue collection for the streamer. Twitch streamer Ninja, for example, has more than 14 million followers and makes thousands of dollars on donations from his fans.
In an era of shifting algorithms, Li believes that Shotcall can add further engagement and revenue to a streamer’s personal brand.
For its services, Shotcall charges a small commission fee per session. They will also soon offer merchandising as an option for streamers to create custom products.
“The great thing about the gaming community is that it’s so connected. It works mainly through word of mouth and social media,” says Li.
The Atlanta-based startup is currently in Beta phase, with more than 35 streamers and around 800 users on the platform. They will publicly launch at the end of the summer.
The team plans on closing an almost fully-committed seed round in the next few weeks. The funds will be earmarked for hiring more engineers to scale the platform and a marketing team to onboard more streamers.