Edge Looks to Revolutionize Esports and Gaming Payments With Smart Contracts
One of the longest-standing problems in esports is that sometimes, players simply don’t get paid or it takes entirely too long for them to get paid. Whether it’s from poor accounting, shady business practices, or simply the speed of doing businesses with independent contractors, streamers and esports players alike have felt the burn of slow payments.
That’s where Edge, a company that’s pioneering new Smart Contracts and powered by Amazon Web Services, comes in. Their new Smart Contracts should make it so this simply cannot happen as the entire process is automated and executes upon completion of a given task, like for instance, winning a Championship match.
The uses of these contracts are numerous, most notably in player and team contracts, influencer agreements, streamer contracts, image rights, and tournament winnings. The contracts would have a 100% payment guarantee with all payments made on time, according to the parameters set upon the original agreement. Additionally, Edge is boasting integrations with various publisher, social media, and league APIs allow Edge to monitor and update contractual obligations in real-time.
Esports Talk had the chance to sit down with Adam Whyte, CEO of Edge, to learn more about this exciting new innovation for the world of esports and streaming.
Edge Looks to Solve One of Esports’ Oldest Challenges
Dustin Steiner, Esports Talk: What benefits do you see smart contracts bringing for esports?
Adam Whyte, CEO, Edge: We know that using manual analog solutions for an industry powered by game and social data is costing the industry stakeholders millions of dollars and hours. Simply put, with our platform you can collect better data and analyze it
Smart contracts are powered by data directly from the games and social media platforms. This means that every player is always paid on time every single time once their obligations within a smart contract are fulfilled. For example, gamer or influencer will have an obligation to maintain a certain rank, play a certain number of hours, post content or stream for a required amount of time. Edge validates these events and processes payments.
The whole system works on an automated basis which completely cuts out the manual processes that are in place to pay players today. It’s much faster, cheaper and removes the margin of human error. Since smart contracts are powered by data there’s no end to what can be tracked. In the future we definitely see the ability to track things such as a player wearing a certain branded item of clothing during their stream as part of their contract or even a player’s performance within a custom game.
Steiner: What involvement has there been from major leagues in determining how Edge functions around things like victories in a tournament, season, or other esports event?
Whyte: We’re closely connected with major leagues and teams within the industry. We listen closely to their pain points and ask lots of questions to truly understand them and their needs. We also carefully analyze existing products in the market to see how we can improve upon current processes. The order in which new features are developed and which games to track are carefully decided with all of our users in mind. Edge is constantly evolving and developing based on feedback and user insights to create the most useful and intuitive experience we can!
Steiner: What’s the worst horror story you’ve heard about contracts not being fulfilled due to a lack of a smart contract system?
Whyte: For as long as people have been earning money as professional gamers there have been people taking advantage of them. We can’t discuss specific event details for legal reasons but we know of tournaments where professional footballers have failed to pay tournament participants because they didn’t feel like it. An Edge agreement would have linked the tournament completion to the payment of prize money to the participants. Instead, the gamers had to rely on the goodwill (or lack thereof) of individuals who didn’t respect invoices and paper contracts. We recently assisted on a matter where a professional Rocket League player was owed substantial salaries from a team that has just completed a fundraiser. You couldn’t make it up.
Understandably, the team wanted the gamer to stream and maintain his level during COVID. Like many gamer agreements, often not drafted by specialists in the field, it didn’t have implicit streaming, content creation, and gaming obligations for the talent. Even if the team agreement contained those obligations, the enforcement of said clauses is nearly impossible. However, with an Edge smart contract, we could monitor the players’ in-game and social performance and only pay them if they are delivering what the gamer or influencer has agreed to deliver. Moreover, whoever created the agreement, and payment flow will be given data reports about the performance of the Edge agreements.
Steiner: To what extent would Smart Contracts eliminate bad actors in esports from a contract perspective?
Whyte: Smart contracts are powered by data directly from the games like League of Legends, Rainbow Six: Siege or platforms such as Twitter, Twitch, or Shopify. Therefore, the data feed cannot be cheated. If a streamer doesn’t produce their stream of a specific game with the agreed logos and assets for the required amount of time – as set by the Parties within Edge, then their contract won’t be fulfilled and they won’t be paid. Smart contracts also work to ensure that tournament organisers and teams can’t get away with not paying players since payments are automatically triggered once contracts are fulfilled. There’s no need to wait for long processes that take months, no chasing anyone for missing payments, no manual checks required, no missing paperwork and no human error.
Steiner: Who are some of your founding partners, and has there been a lot of interest in using Smart Contracts from esports teams and leagues?
Whyte: We have 3 founding partners who bring a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to the team.
First, there’s me, Adam Whyte! I am a former sports lawyer who’s worked with the likes of FIFA and football (soccer) teams like Manchester City and Sevilla. I am an esports evangelist and Hearthstone fanatic, and a vegan activist. Next is David Yarnton who has been in the video games and esports industry for over 30 years first acting as a senior manager at Nintendo both in the UK and Australia for over 17 years before joining Gfinity as a founding director. Last but not least is Scott Hiett who at just 17 years old is channeling his experience of AI and high tech solutions into the dynamic world of data-driven payments. He has been hailed as “the next generation of computer science” by Forbes Magazine.
Edge believes that the future of entertainment lies in gaming and will manifest as the metaverse. People are going to earn money from their actions in video games like they do on social platforms. We believe in using data to power commerce. We are automating many old-world business processes – contracting, invoices, manual data collection, and reporting.
Steiner: Your release mentions working with influencers and the like – has there been interest from Twitch in using this system so streamers aren’t waiting forever for payments?
Whyte: We have had some early discussions with Twitch. We know that payments would be a big task for any company of their size and with the amount of talent they have to pay. When we have spoken to some of their team, they have been excited with the level of automation and additional revenue that the Edge platform would give them.
Steiner: What would you say is the biggest issue facing esports players today from a payment perspective?
Whyte: The biggest issue is getting paid, fast. You want to win or perform, get your prize and move on. Whether you are a streamer, an amateur gamer entering a tournament or an influencer posting to their YouTube channel. Gamers and influencers have to wait 90-150 days to get paid typically. This isn’t necessarily because the influencer and esports industries are wild west. They’re left having to chase their missing payments for months which is often futile and a lot of these players don’t have the means, money, support or knowledge to take the issue to court either.
Steiner: How has Amazon Web Services helped you build out your core products, and would it be possible at all to do what you’re doing without them?
Whyte: Anything is possible in today’s world of technology, it’s just a case of time. AWS has allowed us to shorten our time to market by taking advantage of some of their newer technologies. For example, their Quantum Ledger Database, which we utilise to ensure a strict versioning history of Edge contracts. Meaning contracts cannot be changed once they are “locked in”.
Edge’s smart contract execution system is backed by AWS’ Quantum Ledger Database (QLDB). Using QLDB, Edge has been able to create robust, custom-built stat integration systems that take in loads of social data and game APIs, process it with AI and machine learning, and output this data which in turn allows the smart contracts to meet action items such as payments. AWS has helped us with scalability and agility through their cloud technology, helping us to innovate faster and focus on delivering a unique service to the esports industry.