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Esports player engagement: Latency Vs Delay

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Esports player engagement: Latency Vs Delay
Reading Time: 5 minutes

 

How does latency impact the success of the esports market? Is the industry paying this issue enough attention?

Regardless of whether it’s esports or traditional sports betting, latency is a critical issue that must always be considered in your market offering. The current levels of latency and delay in esports means that punters are at a significant disadvantage when they place bets – to the point that it detracts from the overall experience. Improving latency and delay is essential to achieving parity with the broader sports betting sector, and the future growth of esports betting more broadly.

The most important differentiator between esports and traditional sports is not latency but delay. Latency only refers to the common and often unavoidable situation where the video stream is lagging behind the real time gameplay. Delay, however, is an intentional feature in esports, used as a tool to increase the Tournament Organiser’s control over the broadcast content.

Purposely inputting delay is an industry standard these days and has a direct impact on player engagement. TO’s are constantly trying to find the right balance for delay, as they need to manage competitive and betting integrity against risk, while maintaining broadcast quality.

Although the issue of latency is being handled well in industry, the issue of delay is not. Many industry stakeholders are not attempting to overcome this challenge at all. It’s not just a matter of a few seconds, but many video streams can have up to 10 minutes delay!

The scale of this issue is completely different to any latency related issues. The impact it’s having on player engagement is game changing and I believe it’s an aspect that needs a lot more attention from our sector.

How important is the tier of tournament as a factor when influencing the impact of latency or delay in betting markets?

In esports, latency levels are heavily influenced by the tier of tournament or match. The lower tier esports leagues with more niche gaming titles typically will not have an official data supplier. There is no mass data feed for everyone to access. For matches like these, the punters, operators, players and spectators are all receiving their information from one place; the online stream, meaning no unfair edge when comparing data speed to stream speed. In situations like this, nobody has an advantage, so issues of delay and latency are far less problematic.

The biggest risks to gaming integrity are usually observed in the highest tiers of esports. Top level games that are being broadcast all over the globe and have official data feeds are where the issues of latency and delay have the biggest impact.

The delay between video feed and odds feed is most disparate with MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) games such as League of Legends or DOTA 2.

MOBA games usually consist of continuous gameplay for 40 – 50 minutes with no pauses or rounds. Even with delays of up to 5 minutes, a lot can happen that will change the dynamic of the game and moreover, change the final result. This puts the operator at a greatly increased risk, making it unfair for punters using the stream content to make bets from irrelevant odds.

Games such as Counter-Strike and Valorant are ‘rounds based’ games, meaning their gameplay is a lot more fragmented. So, with a 5-minute delay, the viewer will only be 1 or 2 rounds behind at most which is typically not enough of a window to impact the final result of an entire match. Added to this the fact that punters are only allowed to bet on one round at a time, the opportunity to benefit from the time delay is notably minimised.

What can the key stakeholders in the top tier of esports do to decrease delay in the streams whilst still upholding the highest standards to sports integrity?

In esports there will always be an element of delay to ensure broadcast quality and the integrity of competition – particularly to prevent stream sniping and cheating during games. With this in mind there are two different approaches to this: decreasing delay or aligning data with this delay.

For broadcast and integrity reasons you can only reduce the delay to a certain level, but that still doesn’t get to the heart of the problem. Punters are still behind not by seconds, but by several minutes. And it’s the top tier esports events, particularly ones with exclusive data feeds, that have the biggest disparity of information between operator and punter. Which in turn stifles the live betting potential of the biggest events of the year.

The more equitable solution for the industry would be to align the delay of the data feed with that of the stream. It sounds very simple right?

Applying this change in a way that parallels the sports betting ecosystem not only creates a fairer environment for the end user, the punter, but unlocks so many more opportunities for live engagement.

Official rights holders should think carefully and partner with companies that will create a fair ecosystem and who give betting operators the best ability to not only maximise revenues but who can deliver the best customer betting experience. This status quo has gone on for too long with suppliers of non esports specific betting products holding rights packages for some (not all) tournaments and throttling betting turnover and user experience.

Even with no perceived delay, operators using suppliers with quality products will still be able to price markets efficiently, while giving the punters a better overall experience.

How does latency impact sports integrity and how can it be improved going forward?

The answer to this question is a double-edged sword: Latency and Delay.

For esports and its general viewing experience, latency plays a key role. Most data providers are already utilising advanced technology to optimise every part of the streaming process and keep latency levels to a minimum. I don’t believe there to be too much of an issue there.

The core challenge is associated with Delay. We’ve heard from many stakeholders in the industry who say that there is a major problem with unfair betting in esports because punters are being supplied old information.

Most esports bettors prefer to watch the live match stream while betting, enhancing their in-game experience. However, when they notice that the odds on screen are not accurately reflecting the streamed gameplay, players understandably become discouraged from further engagement as the levels of credibility are impacted.

Sports integrity and fairness are important factors but not the only side effect of delay in esports. Being able to create an exciting experience for the punter is business critical. They need to be able to interact with the gameplay in as close to real time as possible. Statistics show that matches with the biggest delays also have the lowest betting volume, further demonstrating the need for improvement in this area. Latency itself is not a problem, the current industry level is under 10 seconds which is not perfect but is not problematic as most people don’t have the means or knowledge to be able to exploit that level of latency. The key to enhanced customer experience and the highest levels of sports integrity is in being able to better manage the delay, keeping the most up to date data possible displayed on the screen.

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React Gaming to Offer LOOT.BET Esports Wagering Skin via HHRP in the Philippines

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Generationz Gaming Entertainment, a subsidiary of the React Gaming Group, has signed a white label revenue sharing agreement with HHRP Inc to operate LOOT.BET’s esports wagering platform in the Philippines, pending successful certification of the LOOT.BET platform by Gaming Laboratories International.

“We are thrilled to have HHRP as a partner for the Philippines market, HHRP being one of only four companies holding online gaming licences in a country of more than 109 million people,” Laurent Benezra, President and CEO of React Gaming, said.

“This agreement is part of our two-pronged growth strategy to expand LOOT.BET’s reach into the B2C and B2B markets. The advantage of the B2B market is that LOOT.BET’s platform will be offered to established customer bases, thus involving no customer acquisition cost on our part. Our partner will offer our white-label platform as its own to its customers and we will receive a portion of the revenue generated when those customers use the platform. The more popular our platform, the more revenue it will generate. The great thing about this model is that we can replicate it in multiple markets and with multiple online gaming providers at minimal cost,” Laurent Benezra added.

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Subway and Guild Esports Celebrate First Year of Game-changing Partnership

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Subway and global esports company Guild Esports are celebrating their first year of a successful brand partnership. The EMEA-wide partnership engages Gen Z consumers with esports and gaming activations. So far, the collaboration has generated nearly 9000 posts and streams, and over 1800 hours of exposure time, and more coming from Subway and Guild, soon.

Just over a year ago, Subway launched a two-year EMEA-wide brand partnership with Guild Esports, the global esports business co-founded by football star, David Beckham.

As esports continues to grow across the world, with an audience of over 450 million in 2021, expected to rise to 570 million by 2024 (according to market research firm Newzoo), this market is a way for Subway to connect with Gen Z consumers.

But there’s more to Subway’s partnership with Guild than esports alone. It also helps Subway to promote its belief in nutritious food, choice, and variety, to an audience that doesn’t always eat as healthily as they could.

David Beckham set up Guild Esports to take a holistic view of its players’ wellbeing – not only advancing skills in gaming, but also taking care of good nutrition, physical and mental wellbeing. With over 80% of gamers eating or drinking while playing (Newzoo), Guild hopes to promote a healthy relationship between gamers and food. And this aligns with Subway’s values of helping consumers make better and healthier choices.

“It’s great to have Subway on board to help us educate gamers and esports players. We are currently working closely with Subway’s nutritionist to further develop our Health and Nutrition section on our Academy platform, aiming to equip young players with the tools and knowledge needed to improve their relationship with food. The lessons will cover everything from healthy habits around nutrition, improving relationships with food and the benefits and dangers of common nutrition supplements in esports. Keep an eye out on our Academy and Guild social channels for more game-changing content,” Luke Hall, Nutritionist at Guild Esports, said.

“One year on, our partnership with Guild has become a powerful asset across EMEA. We’ve turned it into a far-reaching and multi-dimensional asset with many opportunities for our franchisees to engage local consumers. Esports is a new area for Subway, and we are enjoying the journey. And as Guild is an esports organisation which talks so passionately about nutrition, they offer us a unique and well-rounded partnership,” Louise Wardle, the EMEA VP of marketing for Subway, said.

“It has been great to work with Subway as our brand has grown and we’ve built the range and reach of our activities. We are also excited about the future direction of Guild Academy which has a huge focus on the holistic wellbeing of gamers and are pleased to be working so closely with Subway on the development of our Health and Nutrition section. One year on, it’s been quite a journey and we are now set for our next burst of growth. So, look out for more exciting activity with Subway in EMEA in 2022 and beyond,” Michelle Tierney, CCO at Guild Esports, said.

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Challengermode signs deal with KRAFTON, Inc. to host new grassroots PUBG Esports initiative

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Challengermode signs deal with KRAFTON, Inc. to host new grassroots PUBG Esports initiative
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

Challengermode, a leading global esports platform, today announced its partnership with KRAFTON, Inc. to be the official platform partner for the PUBG NextPro series – a tournament series giving grassroots esports players the chance to experience pro play in a professional esports setting.

For the remainder of 2022, the best amateur PUBG: BATTLEGROUNDS (PUBG) PC gamers in Western Europe, the Middle East and North Africa will be able to prove themselves in weekly tournaments that will feed into monthly leaderboards with prizes. These week-by-week competitions give esports hopefuls the chance to play like the pros in a continuous competitive experience all on one centralized platform.

This initiative will see KRAFTON, Inc. use Challengermode’s automated esports platform for the PUBG NextPro esports events – ensuring that competition at the grassroots level keeps up with the development seen across Western Europe, Middle East and North Africa for pro-level leagues and events. It will also bolster KRAFTON, Inc.’s efforts to expand the amateur playerbase of PUBG Esports after the transition of the title to free-to-play.

Robin Svensson, Esports Partnerships Manager at Challengermode, said: “We’re delighted to bring KRAFTON, Inc’s grassroots PUBG initiative to life on Challengermode.Together with one of the most popular IPs in the world we are creating a bedrock ground for players looking to ascend to higher tiers of PUBG-endorsed tournaments, which aligns perfectly with Challengermode’s goal of making esports truly accessible for all. We look forward to working closely with KRAFTON, Inc. on this series of competitions and other collaborations in future”

Erin Hughes, EMEA Esports Manager at KRAFTON, Inc. added: “Our main goal for this initiative is to inspire those who have recently taken up PUBG to take the plunge and embark on a new journey through the PUBG Esports ecosystem. Partnering with Challengermode has allowed us to create this grassroots competitive experience, and we look forward to working closely together over the coming months to make this tournament a success, attract new PUBG Esports fans and deliver something that players look forward to returning to again and again.”

 

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