Soft-launched on Android and iOS in the summer and due for a full roll-out in January, RewardMob is billed as a speedy way - just one SDK installation - to turn a mobile game into a free casual eSport.
It's a platform that partners with developers to give players rewards for playing. Developers pick moments when players can win rewards outside of the game itself: gift vouchers, perhaps, or merchandise.
RewardMob also manages leaderboards and league tables, giving any game that uses the SDK an instant competitive feel.
Todd Koch is CEO of the Canadian outfit. He and co-founder Colin Bracey possess tons of gaming and tech experience.
"This is my first mobile game company but I've always been around games," explains Koch. "I actually used to program games on a Commodore 64 a very long time ago."
Their team includes marketing expert Travis Kraft, and Mark Walker, who has over 20 years of experience in financial services.
"There are really no other free-to-play eSport based tournament games like ours," says Koch. A bold claim, so we quizzed him about how it works.
PG.biz: So what's RewardMob's mission and vision? What challenges in the mobile gaming space does your platform overcome?
Todd Koch: RewardMob was built to solve the top three problems all game developers face while creating a more rewarding experience for the players. All game developers struggle with game discovery, player retention and monetisation.
We approached this in two ways. Creating a reward system where game developers could reward their players for playing their games longer and more often; and creating a platform to manage tournaments where users could compete against each other for real cash and prizes.
The RewardMob platform makes it easy for users to discover the games that are connected to our platform. The more games that join up, the more users that sign up to become members and the more new players each game will receive by virtue of the community.
We have proven that when tournaments are running, game developers have seen an increase of up to four times the number of player sessions and an increase of up to three times the session times.
We increase monetisation for the developers in two ways. Because players are playing more frequently and for a longer duration they are more likely to make more in-app purchases or consume more ads.
We also share a portion of our ad revenue back with the game developers. This is a real win for us and the game developers.
How do gamers earn rewards, what's the experience like for them? Is it completely free to enter a tournament or the reward programme?
Yes, it’s totally free. We are building a pay-to-play skills-based version for release in 2018 but this version is completely free.
A user will install a game that's listed on our app and compete in the tournament. Each game is a little different in terms of how they give out rewards but the concept is still the same: earn rewards in the game then open the reward to see what you've won.
When the user opens the reward two things can happen. They will either win a real-life prize like gift cards, movie passes and merchandise; or they earn points that help move them up the tournament leaderboard.
Before a user claims the points we show them an offer from our advertising partners and give them the option to earn bonus points. These offers give us the revenue to support the model and pay out the prizes and tournament cash.
Developers have seen an increase of up to four times the number of player sessions and up to three times the session times.Todd Koch
The more people that play the bigger the tournament prizes grow. We launched in August of 2017 and have given out over $17,000 in cash and prizes so far to date.
Why should developers partner with you? What is the process like for a developer?
We wanted to make this process as easy as possible so we created an SDK for Unity that they can drag and drop into the game. The developer decides when and where to give the players rewards and that’s it. We work out a tournament schedule with the developers and start the tournaments.
We have completed over 100 tournaments so far with our developer partners and the results have been incredibly consistent. We are achieving a reward open rate of 96% and developers are earning on average $0.08 per active user per day. To put that into perspective, a game with 50,000 active users could earn an additional $4,000 per day over and above their in-game ad revenue and in-app purchases.
Does a particular kind of game work best?
Action, adventure, arcade, match-3, word and trivia games all work very well. Simple games that are already fun and challenging are enhanced by the competitive tournaments.
What's your business model – how do you and your developers make money?
Our revenue model is ad-supported on our end in our app. When a player opens a reward we give them the chance to earn bonus points in the tournament by engaging with an offer from our advertisers.
By doing this we make the advertising a fun part of the process and therefore have higher than standard engagement rates. Our highest being females between 25 and 35 years old, which comprise 54% of our user base. They are completing offers at a rate of 1.5 per user.
Each completed offer generates revenue. We put a portion of that back into prizing and then we split the remaining revenue with the game developers. We are the first app that I know of that shares ad revenue with a game developer where the ads appear outside of the developers game.
What are some of the games you're currently working with?
We bought the source code for three simple games to test the system. Jackpot Jelly which is a match-3, Payliens, which is like space invaders, and MayDay PayDay is an endless flyer.
We are also working with Marios Karagiannis from Karios Games on Ben Bones and Nathan Blair from Uforia on World Soccer2D. We have three more games from new developers that will be launching very soon. Winding Island, Rad Racer, Cindy Bubble, Tumblestone and Tropical Blast.
How will you avoid or limit cheating by gamers?
We have tools running all of the time to tackle cheating. Things like monitoring IP address and how quickly rewards are being earned can trigger a security alert which we investigate right away.
Are their gambling implications, maybe local rules in different territories, that you have to observe when it comes to cash prizes? How do you deal with that?
Our competitions fall under sweepstakes laws in most jurisdictions and because it is free to enter we are not considered gambling.
Users will be able to create their own tournaments, governed by smart contracts and fully decentralized on the blockchain.Todd Koch
Our rules currently permit play from Canada, excluding Quebec, the United States and the UK. We plan on expanding this to other countries but since we are dealing with sweepstakes laws each country needs to be onboarded one at a time.
When will you launch fully?
We are working hard on the updated version of the app and SDK that will improve the look and feel of the app as well as some improvements in speed and function for the SDK.
During this time we are using events like Pocket Gamer Connects, MGF and GDC to show developers what we are doing and how we can benefit them. Our goal is to have 10 games running daily tournaments by the end of November for our full launch in January of 2018.
Once game developers understand how powerful this can be, I see them creating games specifically geared towards our platform, creating competitive games that will leverage our reward and tournament system.
What else are you developing at this stage?
We are currently working on integrating blockchain technology into the platform for upcoming Pay to Play tournaments. This should be released into beta in early 2018.
Users will be able to create their own tournaments and play against friends or the general public. The tournaments would be governed by smart contracts and be fully decentralised on the blockchain. This adds an extra layer of security and functionality to the system.
We will have a full release on this very soon when we launch our token sale.