In July, we spoke with Masato Kakamu, Founder and CEO of eSportStars, to find out more about his company’s intentions to boost fan engagement and player revenue. We learnt that eSportStars will offer a platform where casual fans and aspiring pros can buy ‘tickets’ to compete against their idols and existing pros across several games in a one on one format. Masato hoped that pros would be able to engage with their fans in a whole new way, whilst getting paid to play the game they love.
Now, one month on, we have caught up with Masato again for the first instalment in a two-part series to learn more about the steps eSportStars is taking ahead of its launch in October. Read on to find out more about the progress the company has made over the past month, and how Masato and his team are pivoting to try and facilitate success.
The first thing that Masato made clear when we had our latest conversation was eSportStars’ change in strategy. “We have changed our priorities,” Masato explained. “Initially we thought that – because of the Time Ticket technology – the one on one competition would work well, but we realised that we would have to spend a lot on advertisements. Since then, we have learnt that organising tournaments ourselves and building a tournament management function into eSportStars is the first functionality we need to focus on. That will allow us to build a community for the one on one competition without extensive advertisement.”
“So, we decided to prioritise the tournament management function of our business first before anything else,” Masato clarified. “Unless we have many users, the professional teams and players won’t organise tournaments using our platform, so we’re organising tournaments ourselves to try and attract as many users as possible.”
Not only did Masato reveal that the tournaments would be more than just a simple marketing tool as he originally believed, he went further and identified that the tournaments would be one of core functions of eSportStars moving forward. “We will have three major functionalities built into eSportStars: one will be tournaments, the second will be the one on one service and the third functionality will be video streaming, because once we have an audience watching our content we can get sponsors.”
Whilst Masato put emphasis on the aforementioned video streaming functionality – even going as far as to explain that establishing an alternative to YouTube or Twitch will be an objective for the company later down the line – it was clear that eSportStars’ main focus is on tournaments.
Since the beginning of August, eSportStars has hosted two additional tournaments in PUBG, but Masato hopes that this will scale considerably with technological solutions. “We have been building a Discord bot to automate much of the tournament management process,” said Masato. “So, alongside the development of eSportStars’ website functionality, that is something we have been working on.”
“We can do more tournaments – one every hour in fact, but we haven’t because our bot isn’t fully automated. Once it is ready, we’re going to be hosting tournaments in new markets such as Russia, India and Brazil.”
When speaking more about eSportStars’ plans to expand in the coming weeks and months, Masato explained, “We are planning to target and expand into developing countries such as India, Indonesia, Mexico, Brazil and South Africa. We have identified these five nations as being important for our development because of their respective GDPs and gaming populations. India and Indonesia have a special focus because they’re growing so fast and their population is huge. Other areas we’re keeping in mind are Germany, the UK and Russia, Japan, China and Australia – for us, these are all strategic regions that we plan on targeting.”
As well as expanding geographically, the team behind eSportStars wants to increase the company’s offering to the participants that compete in its tournaments. Masato discussed how his esports platform intends to start distributing Time Coin – a cryptocurrency token that is owned by Time Ticket, another company that Masato manages – ahead of the currency’s planned floatation on coin exchanges.
“Through eSportStars, the more one participates in tournaments the more Time Coin they can receive – I have called this esports mining. We intend to reward users that make the most of our service with Time Coin,” said Masato. “We intend to share millions of dollars worth of our Time Coins before the IEO (Initial exchange offering) and then later down the line it’ll be able to be sold.”
Although the number of pre-registered users signed up to eSportStars’ platform has increased by 50 percent to an approximate total of 1,500 users, Masato and his team are still distant from their ambitious targets of 100,000 registered users per supported language – of which there are initially three – within the first few months of the website’s launch.
“After doing some test marketing we have 1,500 users, which is very small when compared to our goal of 100,000, but that user base has been established through tournaments in one game in Japan-alone,” Masato acknowledged.
“We suspect that when we automate the tournament management process and expand our operations into different regions and different games, the number of pre-registered users should scale quite quickly. We are confident we can reach our targets by October, especially once we expand into countries such as India that have huge populations.”
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored piece by eSportStars