The surge in interest in esports, online fantasy leagues and the broader online financial infrastructure has made the concept of real money gaming even more popular among consumers and game developers.Today there is a start-up company called victory – It has built an engine and accompanying SDK to power real money tournaments – Announced $14.1 million in funding to continue developing its platform to operate in a wider market (currently in 37 US states and Washington D.C. SAR available), as well as to attract more customers.
So far, Triumph has been in a quiet beta phase, developing a few games of its own to test the technology and work with early customers. So far, the stats look promising, the startup says: When it was plugged in, Triumph’s real-money engine saw an average 3.6x increase in game time per month and average monthly revenue per player per game for $54. Right now its focus is on mobile games, but the bigger goal is to expand to platforms like VR.
With the strength of these early numbers, combined with the passion and work of the founders thus far, Triumph managed to convince some impressive investors to back it.
The funding was first announced today, but it actually covers a $3.9 million seed round and about $10.2 million in a series A round.The latter was led by General Catalyst with participation from Box Group, Heroic Ventures, Nostalgic Modern, RavenOne Ventures, SteelPerlot, Strike and Valhalla Ventures, while Flux led the previous round, which included Great Oaks, Heroic Ventures, Raven One, Magic Fund, Kevin Hartz and others participated.
A few years ago, Triumph’s two co-founders (and co-CEOs), Jacob Brooks and Jared Geller (pictured left and right), started is a Stanford student in the throes of Covid-19. The couple rented a house with a few other friends and created an isolation pod, spending a lot of healthy time indoors playing games and coding.
Some of those games ended up being drawn into real money tournaments, where friends would essentially use Venmo to arrange cash bets to pay them. University computer science students Brooks and Geller decided to create a game with built-in betting.
Like many startups that end up focusing on developer tools, the duo found that building money-making features was much more difficult than developing the games themselves.
This is no surprise: financial services such as payments have transformed into API-integrated “fintech” precisely because of how complex it is to bring together the different parts of the payments ecosystem.
This task is even more complicated when it comes to skill-based games for real money. While it’s not the same as online gambling and is allowed in most states, real money gaming has additional complications due to the following facts: Every state has its own set of laws Complying with KYC terms and how to categorize younger users, and the complexities of building payouts and payment system.
Brooks – who eventually dropped out of Stanford to build the system (Geller took his graduate credits and did it) – is very enthusiastic about what he calls the “brass nails” of these payment systems, but he’s also a gaming enthusiast developers, and seem to think like gamers when considering the commercial potential of the products they build.
“There are a lot of exciting use cases where real money tournaments can play a role,” he said. “Anything that has a dedicated user base is probably a good fit. Right now, when you’re playing, you’re watching ads or constant urging to make your players better.” This is to create a smoother experience and free developers from all these problems.
The product is provided as an SDK and is currently available for free integration. Triumph makes money by taking a 20% cut of tournament fees (players donate to the pool and publishers collect tournament fees).
In theory, Triumph’s customers will be game publishers who use this feature across multiple games, and they can use the dashboard to track usage:
Game publishers are always looking to grow their user base, turning to app install ads and other marketing methods to do so, and once they do have players, they’re always looking for ways to keep them engaged. Triumph believes that engines incorporating real money tournaments have the opportunity to carve out a niche in a market that doesn’t offer much in terms of innovation.
Niko Bonatsos, managing director of General Catalyst, believes another reason Triumph may catch on in the market is that it is a relatively uncontested space, at least so far. Papaya Gaming, Avia Games, MPL, and Skillz are all developing real-money services for skill-based games, but only Skillz provides tools for third-party developers, and these tools are more difficult to implement and more expensive to use.
It also helps that the founders are smart and full of ideas about how to make the game more interesting to the average player, he said.
“The bottom line is that it’s an investment in both of them, in a really interesting space and a really compelling idea.” He added that they also had ideas around user acquisition and related areas, which Might also get into the frame at some point.