How to Create an App for eSports: Must-have Features and Monetization
Each year, eSports become more popular, attracting millions of new viewers around the world. Just like traditional sports fans, eSports enthusiasts need places where they can get together with others who share their passion
Why create an eSports app?
Esports happen in multiplayer video games, and they have all the features of traditional sports: teams, coaches, tournaments, prizes, and leagues. The most popular eSports games are:
- League of Legends
- PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
- Dota 2
Previously, eSports were popular only among amateurs. But when professional players started streaming games on platforms like Twitch, eSports turned into an extremely popular type of entertainment not only for gamers but for viewers.
A professional eSports player can make up to $15,000 per month apart from prize money
Esports is an extremely lucrative industry: a professional eSports player can make up to $15,000 per month apart from prize money. Gamers can make a fortune by doing what they enjoy, and this has created a whole industry with lots of additional jobs for coordinators, commentators, hosts, coaches, marketing specialists, SMM managers, and event managers. All this makes eSports app development a lucrative business.
According to Statista, by 2021, the eSports market will generate $1.65 billion from 557 million viewers. Compare this to 380 million viewers in 2018! Awareness of eSports is also growing. In 2019, over 1.57 billion people globally were aware of eSports, compared to only 809 million in 2015.
So how can you make money from these 21st-century sports? With platforms that aggregate real-time eSports information from all over the world and offer APIs you can integrate into your app, it’s easy. All you need to take care of is the mobile app and back end.
In this article, we’ll talk about the features of an eSports app, technologies, tools, SDKs, and APIs you’ll need. We’ll also talk about how to build an app for eSports, the development cost ways to get a return on your investment.
Types of eSports apps
There are several types of mobile apps for eSports. Some apps combine functionality from different types, others choose to be more specific and cover one or two tasks.
- Tournament streaming apps
- Forum apps
- Betting and gambling apps
- Team management apps
- Statistics and tracking apps
Must-have features for an eSports app
Login and signup
Allow your users to register in your app in several ways. It’s a good practice to offer registration through two or three social media accounts or by email. Make login as easy as possible to increase your conversion rate.
Introduce the main features of your app with a simple tutorial that guides users through your app and shows them where to see the event calendar, news feed, and settings, for example.
A personal profile should contain important information about the user. For example, if you offer a subscription, users should be able to save their credit card details and edit payment information in their profiles. You can also place favorites and settings in personal profiles to clear up the app’s interface.
In settings, your users should be able to change the color scheme, switch to dark mode, manage permissions and notifications, etc.
Communicate with your users through push notifications. Remind them about upcoming events, alert them about changes in the charts, and tell them about new tournaments or league updates. You can also use push notifications to remind users to update their app.
To increase the open rate of your notifications, you can implement rich push notifications that feature any kind of media in the preview, such as images or animations.
In the calendar, your users should see all upcoming and past tournaments and events and should be able to set reminders and open tournament pages.
Think about where you’ll get this information before starting to develop an app for eSports. Let your users know the status of each tournament and provide information on when tournament information will be updated.
Real-time news feed
This is one of the most important eSports app features. Your news feed should feature the most recent news circulating in the eSports media and communities so users don’t have to visit other apps or websites to get more information. To make your news feed engaging, implement artificial intelligence (AI) and to determine which news items may be the most interesting for each particular user.
It’s hard to say what people enjoy more: sports or discussing them with others. Develop an eSports app with user communication in mind. Create a place in your app where people can communicate and discuss things instead of leaving your app after they’ve seen all the news.
Implement chat rooms for each game, league, or event and allow people to upvote and reply to comments. Also, don’t forget to notify a user after someone replies to their comment to encourage further dialogue.
Develop an eSports app with user communication in mind
Statistics and leaderboards
Leaderboards show which teams are leading in real time. Statistics compare current success to previous experience, allowing users to fulfill their curiosity about eSports tournaments and do scouting.
A video player allows users to replay their favorite moments of the game. Though you don’t have to build a full-fledged streaming platform, it’s always a good idea to integrate video materials into your news feed, such as best moments and interviews with players.
Allow users to choose their favorite leagues so they can see more information on them in their news feed and get notified of updates concerning their favorite teams.
If you offer a subscription to your service, be sure to add a payment gateway to your app so users can easily pay for access.
Integrate analytics into your mobile app to find out how it’s performing both from a technical and business standpoint. Analytics can show you how many users join your service daily, monthly, and yearly, how many of them convert to paid users, and how well your app is delivering content. If your app crashes on certain smartphone models, analytics will show that as well and help your quality assurance team choose test devices.
Grow your audience faster using a referral program: encourage your users to bring their friends to your app and offer those friends benefits or discounts for subscribing.
There are eSports fans all over the world, so make sure you select three or more audiences speaking various languages to target. These are the countries where eSports are the most popular among gamers and viewers:
- South Korea
Social media integration
Another way to attract more users to your app is to integrate it with social media so users can share news through their Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts.
If you want a top-notch killer feature that will let you stand out from the crowd, augmented reality is what you need. Though it’s not easy to implement, it can pay off. With augmented reality, you can gamify your app to increase engagement, promote events, and allow your users to participate in tournaments virtually by replicating famous stadiums right in their smartphones.
The eSports app development cost will depend on the feature set of your app, so I advise you to choose the most important features for your MVP first, and then implement more complex functionality in the future.
Development tools for an eSports app
There are many ways to build an eSports app for fans. One option is to go for an off-the-shelf solution or use a white-label mobile app builder. This will allow you to start your eSports business fast and customize some parts of your app; however, there are downsides to this approach.
First, your app won’t be as customizable as you probably want it to be. Usually, app builders have a limited set of features you can’t really change, and integrating additional features is a pain, if not impossible.
I recommend custom development for your eSports app, as sooner or later you’ll want to improve and scale it, and it’s easier and more effective to do that with tools your development team has chosen.
APIs and SDKs
With lots of eSports platforms that aggregate data on tournaments, it’s easy to get your app going: just integrate an API and SDK and your content will be there.
Here are some platforms that offer APIs and SDKs for eSports.
1. Wowza GoCoder SDK and Wowza Streaming Cloud
You can build your eSports app based on the Wowza SDK. This is the best option if you plan to offer video streaming in your application. Wowza supports both Android and iOS and offers playback, 4K streaming, and timed metadata. It’s rather easy to integrate Wowza thanks to their thorough documentation with tutorials and references.
Also, if you want to set up your back end infrastructure fast, you can use Wowza Streaming Cloud.
2. Abios eSports API
Abios is great for getting your eSports statistics, data, and news. The Abios eSports data API suite provides you with:
- Relevant data on eSports
- Event data
- Live streams
- Tournament results
- Data categorization by levels (match, series, player, team levels)
- Coverage of all popular games
3. PandaScore API
PandaScore is similar to Abios, as it also provides information on all popular games. The company uses AI to collect and categorize their data and has clear and detailed documentation.
PandaScore offers different plans, free and paid, so you can choose one that’s perfect for your app. For example, the Live plan provides access to live data, whereas the Basic paid plan only offers historical data. If you want to create an app for eSports, Live plan is definitely more competitive.
I advise using cloud servers, as you’ll be able to scale them in a matter of minutes if your user flow rapidly increases. You can also use servers of eSports cloud platforms, as they’re made specifically for eSports apps. Some examples are Wowza Streaming Cloud and Amazon GameOn.
Still, even if you use these solutions, you’ll need to develop and manage your own infrastructure. This includes:
- User management
- Storage management
- Cross-platform compatibility
- Database management
To make this easier, you can choose a MBaaS (mobile backend as a service) solution, such as Google Firebase or Kinvey. This will allow you to focus on your UI/UX.
The user interface and user experience is the second most important part of your app, right after the content. Your goal is to build the best possible place where fans can keep up with their favorite teams and discuss the latest news.
To do this and keep your users in the app, you need to make their experience full and cohesive. Use best practices of UX development, and avoid mediocre designs. Make sure your app has something that can exceed user expectations. Add small touches like animations and beautiful transitions between screens.
How to monetize an eSports app
There are several ways you can monetize your application for eSports fans. Let’s discuss your options and their pros and cons.
In-app ads are the most popular way to monetize nearly any application. They work great and don’t require any effort from you, except for choosing your type of ad monetization. You can read more about in-app advertising below.
However, ads can be intrusive and lower the engagement and retention rate of your app, so be careful.
This is the best monetization option for apps that regularly feature new content — and that’s exactly what an eSports app is designed for. Offer several subscription options to get a stable and predictable flow of revenue from your paid users.
However, subscriptions will require more from you in terms of fresh content, constant updates, and new features.
3. In-app purchases
With in-app purchases, you can offer your users unique content such as interviews with top players. You can also build a freemium monetization model and offer more features and content in a paid version of your app.
To build an eSports app for fans, look at traditional sports applications like ESPN and see how they deliver content. But add a unique twist to your app to make it special. Focus on your content, design, and the ease of communication between fans so they don’t leave your app to discuss things.
Take example from popular eSports or traditional sports apps, but don’t forget to add a unique twist to your app
Make sure you deliver the most recent and interesting news and invest in personalization. The cost to build an eSports app depends heavily on your feature set and also the third-party tools you’ll be using to provide your users with the information on tournaments.
To save money on development, you can choose to develop your app with Flutter – the most promising cross-platform technology that will allow you to publish a single app in both application stores.
If you want to find out more on how to make an app for esports, and learn about tools that will let you save money to spend on marketing and design, be sure to contact us.