Game Centered features roundups and in-depth reviews of the best in iOS games and related gaming news. This week's Game Centered takes a look at a new company in the video game industry, one with truly great potential. Skillz brings the first, for-profit gaming arena to the mobile platform. With video gaming (otherwise known as eSports) bringing in massive international audiences, and equally large profits, the competition to be a top gamer is fierce, and with millions of dollars in prizes and sponsorships on the line, eSports have become a bonafide professional-level sport.
While mobile devices are only just starting to gain recognition as a legitimate eSports platform, they still have a long way to go until they have the superstar teams and recognizable champion players that are common in the console and PC eSport circuits. The fact that companies like Skillz, SteelSeries and Oculus are embracing the mobile gaming platform as they move forward is a sure sign that we've only just begun to see the paradigm shifting effect of devices like Apple's iPad and iPhone on video game culture.
Recently I had a chance to chat with Andrew Paradise, CEO and founder of Skillz, a refreshing new startup company that has created a way for gamers to train and then compete in video game competitions for real-world cash awards.
iPL: Thank you, Andrew, for taking the time to talk with iPhone Life. I have a feeling what your company has to offer will be of great interest to our readers in the not too distant future. Is there a Skillz app in the works?
Paradise: We have an HTML 5 app available at skillz.com/play. Through the app, players can view and manage their account across all Skillz-enabled games and can discover and download new Skillz games.
iPL: The iOS games available to compete in via Skillz are very few. What plans, if any, does Skillz have to change this? Are any major titles expected to become available to compete in through Skillz in the near future? It would be great to see Modern Combat 5 or Infinity Blade 3 or Real Racing 3 as gaming options.
Paradise: As of today, we have more than 150 games live in the App Store. We already work with large, publicly traded studios, like Glu Mobile, and we’re always looking for great new content. In the coming months, we will be announcing Skillz multiplayer competitions in numerous well-known titles, and we’re excited to bring eSports to the games that players already know and love as well as those that have yet to be discovered.
iPL: Where do you see the future of iOS gaming headed? Do you think the console manufactures should be nervous? Do you envision console and iOS games becoming more integrated, or do you see iOS gaming surpassing consoles in popularity, or play rates any time soon?
Paradise: While consoles are incredibly powerful gaming systems, mobile devices have several advantages including broader adoption, omnipresence in the consumer pocket, and the ability to integrate games into everyday life through location awareness and augmented reality. As a result of these features, mobile devices will play an increasingly important role in the gaming experience. While console manufacturers don’t necessarily need to be nervous about this trend, they do need to be adaptive because mobile gaming is undoubtedly here to stay.
iPL: Recently The International 2014 game competition received considerable media attention for being broadcast on ESPN and for the 10 million dollar purse it offered the winners. Do you ever see iOS games being played at this level? What are some of the biggest cash prize awards given out by Skillz?
Paradise: It’s really great to see multi-million dollar prize pools and mainstream media coverage for eSports competitions in games like Dota 2. Both the consumer interest and size of the prize pool speak to the incredibly bright future of the sport. Today, mobile is the most popular gaming medium. Mobile has truly democratized gaming, making gamers out of more than a billion people worldwide. Looking at just a single game, there are more than 200 million monthly active users (MAU) playing Angry Birds. That makes Angry Birds roughly 22 times larger than Dota 2. With audiences of this scale, mobile eSports will eventually pay larger prizes and have greater consumer interest and media coverage than console or PC-based eSports.
iPL: Very interesting! Can you give us an idea as to how much money some Skillz players are able to make?
Paradise: On the Skillz platform, we have some players that are already winning over a thousand dollars a week. However, this is just the beginning of eSports on mobile. We paid over one million dollars in prizes in just six months, and will pay out tens of millions of dollars in prizes in 2015. As our company, our player base, and our platform continue to grow, so will the size and scope of the tournaments we operate.