Taunt seeks to cash in on a new trend, Daily Fantasy eSports (DFeS).
In the last few years, the gambling industry has been compressed by acquisitions and mergers. In a business once saturated by operators, major companies are consolidating into a few distinct pack leaders. Now, it seems the events themselves are merging, with the latest mutation coming in the way of ‘DFeS‘.
What is DFeS, you ask? Well, it’s not quite DFS (daily fantasy sports). And it’s not eSports (video gaming competitions). It’s an amalgamation of the two, inevitably taking on the nickname Daily Fantasy eSports.
One company responsible for the newest way to watch others play is Taunt. Created by 2015 Seattle startup Pioneer Square Labs (PSL), Taunt is being billed as an “eSports fan competition platform”. It’s intended to be used by fans while they watch eSports on Twitch and other live streaming services.
The Taunt mobile app is not yet available on Google Play (Android) or iTunes (iOS). However, users can get in on the ground floor, gaining lifetime ‘Founder Status‘ for requesting an invite to play Taunt Alpha before it launches at Worlds 2017.
Daily Fantasy eSports vs Traditional Fantasy Sports
How does DFeS differ from traditional fantasy and daily fantasy sports? In two very distinct ways. For one, Taunt has no intention of turning its services into a gambling forum. There are no cash wagers on the line. Players compete for reputation, prestige and badges, not money.
Secondly, participants won’t need to draft a roster of supreme video gaming masters. Instead of building a team, players try to guess what will happen next during a live eSports match.
The premise is simple. Users will join a virtual room within the platform. Everyone in that room is watching the same live eSports broadcast. Every few minutes, participants will get to answer a question relating to the current affairs of the match.
In warfare games like League of Legends and Call of Duty, for example, users might face questions like, “Which team will get the next kill?” or, “Will a tower go down in the next two minutes?” Those who are able to predict the answer correctly are rewarded with reputation points, earning badges for their adept intuition.
DFeS: The Game Outside The Game
Ben Gilbert, co-founders of PSL and CEO of Taunt, spoke with GeekWire last week. While betting on sports is oft described as a ‘game inside a game’, he believes their product will achieve greatness by providing a “game outside the game experience”.
Taunt does not compete with broadcasting businesses within the eSports industry, like Twitch. It’s more of an add-on feature to enhance the overall experience. Users can download the mobile app or launch it in a separate window on their desktop, enjoying the service alongside an eSports broadcast.
Gilbert doesn’t view the lack of monetary wagering as a hindrance, either. “The incentives are aligned with both the broadcast platform and the publisher, because it provides a deeper level of engagement between a fan and the game they’re watching.”
There are two distinct motivations to play, he said. One is “to have more fun while you’re watching matches”. The other is “to challenge your friends to see who knows the game better”.
The relative daily fantasy eSports platform has no intention of transitioning to a gambling operation. They are content to produce an experience akin to that of Zynga Poker, presenting a free experience with non-cash rewards.