Image credit: GRID
In-game data, which was largely underutilised in the industry a few years back, is now an indispensable part of it.
Its applications range from providing an additional revenue stream for tournament organisers to empowering game publishers and esports ecosystems with data-driven solutions for communities, professional players, and commercial use cases.
However, this revolution did not happen overnight.
For the last five years, gaming and esports data platform GRID has been one of the trailblazers paving the way to help companies — in and out of the industry — unlock the potential of in-game data.
To celebrate the company’s fifth anniversary, Moritz Maurer, Founder and CEO at GRID, published an article that reflected on the company’s journey, current trends, and how data shapes the esports world. In this piece, Esports Insider sat down with the Founder to ask more questions about the role that GRID has played so far in that and aims to play in the future of competitive gaming.
This interview has been slightly edited for clarity.
Esports Insider: Five years is a long time in esports. Can you tell us what the data landscape was like when GRID launched?
Moritz Maurer: There was no official data period. A need for data, especially in industries like betting emerged, and companies worked with what they could find across different fragmented sources which were based on scraped or manually collected stats.
Real live data that was extracted directly from the game was not a thing at all basically. Scraping business spawned in many places trying to capitalise on the public availability of esports broadcasts. In conclusion, the status of esports data was not great: Either no or qualitatively deficient data was available. Rights holders were not included in the value chain. In short — a massive untapped potential.
ESI: How did you bridge that gap to unlock this potential?
Maurer: The answer is technology.
In a digital sport there is a source of truth of incomparable quality — within the game or the game server. So how do you get there? Being granted access requires an official relationship and ideally aligned partnership with the tournament organiser or game developer. But that’s only the first step. Having access requires tapping into an existing data system or building that very system in the first place. Furthermore, the data collection process has to be as non-invasive as possible, and cannot introduce latency/lag on the server.
This is why we created software that would exclusively cater to the need of in-game data — the GRID Data Platform. Our approach focused on integrity, data security and scalability to deliver a standardised quality of the feed across all relevant esports competitions in each game title.
ESI: How has the data economy in esports developed since then?
Maurer: Today rights holders recognise in-game data as part of a game IP and use it as a lever for growth of any competitive ecosystem: it matters for players, coaches and analysts to improve performance, it engages fans, it enriches the broadcast experience and makes esports more accessible to a broader audience.
We did many of the first data rights partnerships in esports and scaled that model to over 90 partnered rights holders, such as. tournament organisers and game developers, establishing a scalable framework for them to capitalise on the value of their data — both for revenues and for fan engagement.
The demands of data consumers changed too. Following the initial availability of data, more businesses invested into data-reliant solutions that leverage the unique quality of official esports data. Ultimately, if you are building a data-driven product in esports, you need real, official quality data to deliver a compelling and competitive user experience. Using data sourced from the game became a competitive advantage over others that relied on scraped data that is significantly inferior.
Ultimately the introduction of officially sanctioned and reliable data solutions resulted in a wide variety of use cases in the ecosystem. This spans across fan engagement, betting and fantasy, coaching, talent scouting, integrity and broadcast innovation, with new ideas coming up almost every day.
ESI: In your article you state GRID’s mission — “to unlock the potential of game data for everyone”, what does that actually mean?
Maurer: It starts with the democratisation of access to official data.
“Everyone” in this context refers to all stakeholders in the value chain. We aim to ensure that the incentives between data producers and consumers are aligned. We want to enable a sustainable ecosystem that is powered by official data where innovation thrives — from large, commercial use cases to independent passion projects.
ESI: How do you execute that mission? Can you break down how the GRID Data Platform actually serves rights holders, data consumers and the wider ecosystem.
Maurer: GRID works with different groups of stakeholders in the esports ecosystem. Over the past five years the technology and the portfolio of services have evolved to constitute three different sets of solutions which are designed to solve the data challenge respective to each group. These are GRID’s Game Developer Solutions (GDS), Data Consumer Solutions (DCS) and The Esports Solutions (ES).
Image credit: GRID
Our Game Developer Solutions vertical focuses on game data infrastructure. This includes the “data piping” of a game and different portals that are designed to make the data available for the esports community or to power different commercial verticals. The goal is that any game developer can plug into the GRID and equip their game with scalable data infrastructure. Whether they want to have an API to work with game data for balancing purposes, empower their community by making stats available or tap into monetisation of esports match data, it starts with the data being “unearthed”.
Data Consumer Solutions centres around supporting over 350 commercial integrations on the platform and ensures that GRID data assets in different product configurations support a wide variety of data use cases across the most relevant competitive game titles. DCS is the starting point for anybody looking for access to official, high-quality, granular in-game data and video feeds. Thanks to the game title agnostic approach, GRID data feeds are designed for a simple integration that scales for even the most complex use cases.
The Esports Solutions (ES) vertical caters to established and emerging competitive titles. The value proposition is essentially “esports as a service” and leverages GRID’s network of partners that specialise in tournament organisation, production or other esports-related activities. We partner with game developers that wish to expand their competitive scene or brands who want to run a tournament. The Esports Solutions team works with rights holders to facilitate the commercialisation of official data assets and provides integrity services across all covered events on the platform.
Finally, alongside our existing services we launched the GRID Open Platform initiative, a unique program focused on improving accessibility of in-game data and educating about the importance of using official sources.
This is our strategy to continue to solve data challenges in esports and gaming at scale.
ESI: What would you say has played the biggest part in GRID’s success up to date?
Maurer: I could not possibly single out one factor here. I have spoken about the GRID mission here and I would argue that the ability to be consistent over multiple years is a clear indicator for a company’s success.
We have not broken the core principles that make GRID what it is in the five years since launch. This means both the alignment with the rights holders in our business model and the scalable, game title agnostic approach in the technology we are building.
To execute an ambitious vision, you need the right people around you and the right partners that share your values and are dedicated to reaching big goals together. Our team is just on it. The ability to work with the games that we play or watch and to contribute to the esports ecosystems we are fans of is amazing. Pushing the boundaries to deliver for our partners comes naturally if your team intrinsically cares about the goal.
This piece is written in collaboration with GRID.