Recently, Pocket Gamer Connects London 2019 (hereafter referred to as PGC 2019) was held in London. This is a grand event that spans the entire industry chain of games, covering everything from PC games to mobile games to console games to blockchain games. DOGI co-founder Shirley Lin interviewed Paul Collin, CEO of Stick Sports Ltd., to start a dialogue on the game business of Stick Sports.
Paul Collins: Hi, my name is Paul Collin, I am the CEO of the Stick Sports Ltd. We produce mobile games in sports category, and we have been just launching the new project which is based on the blockchain.
Shirley: Ok, So tell us about the Stick Sports
Paul Collins: So we originally start in 2004, as an online browser based games platform, and then we launched 2010 on mobile. In those days, it was very different space that everything was being sold as a premium games, like Angry Birds is 99 cents for the game. We are applying this as Free-To-Play movement. We did not want to charge our customers 99 cents for download. We want to give it to them for free, and then if they really like the game, they would pay 2~3~4 dollars or 10 dollars for the purchases inside the game. So we are planning this as Free-To-play movement.
Shirley: Is it subscription based ?
Paul Collins: No, it is not subscription based. It is so free to play and free to download. So we have now 70 million downloads in 3 or 4 specific titles, crickets, tennis, soccer and motor racing. We have something like around 3 millions ~ 4 millions monthly active users.
Shirley: Where is your user base? I know British people are crazy about the sports , like crickets and football.
Paul Collins: So there is a thing. The biggest sports by fan base is soccer. Everyone knows that. The second biggest sports in the world is cricket, and reason is that even though there are only 13 or 14 countries that play cricket, it is played by India. India has 1.3 billion people. Tens of thousands or millions of people away from what China’s population is. It is very big. We are the one of the biggest app on cricket.
Shirley: So what makes you think about very profitable mobile games, and what blockchain plays into this?
Paul Collins: The blockchain is about number of things. It is about decentralization, about value and it is about value transfer. What we see it, it is mostly , for instance, about digital assets. Within the game, and it is been for many years, there are constant assets in the game. Whether you buy them, whether you earn them inside the game as an achievement, you have gained these digital assets, whether they be a hat of your avatar, whether they, with our game, are a tennis racket or cricket bat you play inside the game. Those are digital assets. And traditionally, those assets are licensed to you by the game and the game publisher. The moment you delete the game, those assets are gone. What we believe, there is an absolute need for changing that mode. Instead of we, the game developer, own the assets, the consumer own the assets, and that ownership is in a format that is being able to be traded. They can exchange it, give it to the people, they can do whatever they like. The important thing is that they own it.
Shirley: So what stage is your game ?
Paul Collins: First phase was to do a technology test. We have been spent last few months building out etherum contracts, ERC721, and NFT, the non fungible tokens. We have built those around concepts of digital bats that something you use to hit the ball. There are two or three different types that you can buy. Because we the audience, we have retrofited those bats into the existing game. By just connecting your facebook id, you can then connect your digital bat and then you can play with it in one of our existing titles. There is a Cricket Super League, it is very big in India and it has 3 thousand daily active users. You can play it with your bat. The interesting thing about that bat is that even though when they are minted, they are not same as other bats. Because we are attached the playing history against each individual bat. Over time, each bat becomes unique. So how many sixes you hit, how many scores you do, how many championship you win inside the game is attached to that bat. So no two bats are the same.
Shirley: So it is unique, even if you own two bats, they are not as …..
Paul Collins: They are not going to be the same. The interesting thing becomes to trading. Because maybe that you may not want to play the game, but what you do is that buy a bat and then you rent it out to other people to play. And why you renting it out? You rent it because you want to earn money, but also you might relend it to really good players, because they would attach good history with it, and that would add value to the bat.
Shirley: A bat just has good luck!
Paul Collins: Exactly, so you build up the history for the bat and that is where the value retains.
Shirley: So what is your roadmap?
Paul Collins: So it is lived today.
Shirley: You are launching it today! Congratulation!
Paul Collins: We launched it on Monday. It is the first ever, and it is mass marketing game. We are ready selling those bats and you will play with bats in the existing game which is online.
Shirley: So let’s talk about your network earlier about the mass production at stage of market downturn. How do you adapt to that? You know we are talking about whether the technology drives mass adaption or vise versa.
Paul Collins: So this is one of the issues which we have blockchain moment, because everyone is focusing on the technology and it seems to be that the technology is driving the innovation. Actually, that really should not be the case. It’ s the product that consumes the want that drives the technology. So that is where the innovation is going to come from. The technology only enables the innovation. It is about defining new methods which consumes wants. Just because it is possible does not mean people want it. You are creating desire, you are creating real reason for doing this, and the technology enables it to happen.
Shirley: I know this conference has been talking, speaking and hearing about blockchain, and many people are holding the view that right now it is not a good time for the mass production. To even mention your blockchain game, people are saying don’t mention blockchain, just make it similar experience for the users, the real player don’t care what the underneath technology is. Would like to express your opinion on that?
Paul Collins: I also agree with that. I think the mass market really do not care. I mean, we are talking about this in terms of the adoption curve of a new technology. And you have to think about the context for smartphone adoption curves. We are really quite into that adoption curve of smartphones which started in 2008, when Apple launched the iphone. Same with blockchain, before it goes to mass market, you really need to have the sort from innovators first. Those are the people who are trying out new ideas, applying the technology and making up new products and new business models, if that is the case, because a lot of blockchains are going to change the business model. Not just features and benefits, it is the business models that they are making new. But we are at the stage of innovation, if you look at the adapt rate or any other trackers of blockchain games, the volumes of users are in total tens of thousands, maybe hundred of thousands, there maybe two hundred thousands of people actively playing these kind of games. That in the global world is nothing. These are not early adopters, these are innovators. These are just prototyping ideas, it is great and it is very important phase. But we are not in the earlier adopting phase, the adopter’s phase comes next. That is where we start to seeing a drive, and you will start to see few million users and then we go to mass market.
Shirley: What is your project on now about 2019?
Paul Collins: 2019 is about full scale innovation. At the end of 2019, we are going to have really good business models, and they would be tested and it would be exploited and search in market. And we will be much better off in terms of our understanding application of technology, because 2018 did not give us that. We know what it can do, we know what it is, but we don’t really apply it to our business yet. And 2019, it will show us that. And then quickly after that, it would be starting to drive peak numbers. I was listening to Tony Pierce. He was mentioning, he thinks gamers adopting the assets that they own would take several years to accept that. I don’t agree, I thinks it is very fast. It is the moment the first gamer has assets which he knows he owns, he would never want go back to anything else, and he would seek that out in every other game that he sees. So it would be very fast adoption.