Interview with Gavin Weeks CEO of eSportsify
eSportisfy is a new platform for eSports organizations to build their websites around. The idea behind eSportsify is to create a package that allows eSports organizations access to the features they need to build a better eSports centric website. I got the chance to talk with CEO of eSportsify, Gavin Weeks, and asked him about what exactly his product offeres.
I was watching The Late Game last night and I was surprised to see that you guys were their first sponsor, can you tell me how that came about, who initiated it etc?
Lycan reached out to me on Twitter initially and I was curious as to what he was up to, I watched a couple past episodes of The Late Game and they wanted a bit of help getting their web presence up and running and they offered to help us get noticed in the SC2 world, how could we say no? Excited to see them grow.
I would guess that Esportsify competes primarily with WordPress, can you tell me how it differs from the various gaming WordPress templates that are available?
We try not to compare it to Wordpress because it’s technically a very different beast, also the core basis for their software is in no way tailored or even suitable to esports, thus developers/designers tend to ignore very important features required by teams and organisations.
Esportsify is built on a CMS I have been building and improving for 4 years, with esports specific features that are part of the CMS and not just strapped on to the side as an after thought, everything is connected.
If someone is currently set up with WordPress how difficult is the migration to eSportisfy, does it come with tools to ease migration?
I will state now that we have only been live for a month so we are still very early stage and have a roadmap as long as Route 66 of features we are currently working on and planing to launch over the next few months and beyond. We are currently working on a feature that will allow users to import their content from Wordpress, it’s not an easy thing to build as the WP db structure is quite simplistic in how data is organised which makes it difficult to make sure we assign content to the correct areas of our own database.
Many WordPress sites have a similar look to them due to everyone working off the same handful of templates. What are the customization options for eSportisfy like? How many templates does a typical customer have access to and what kind of tools do you provide to help customers make their websites stand out from the sea of typical eSports websites.
Our customisation options are an area we are working hard to get up and running, we have a few already live that just cover the basics like changing theme, customising the colour scheme of that theme and creating custom navigations. We have recently pushed some passive customisation tools that simply hide/show blocks if no content exists, so users can just ignore sections instead of having to go out of their way to hide them. We are also currently testing our layout manager which allows users to move objects around the page and order things like the sidebar and main content areas however they like. We hope these as well as a few other tools in development right now will allow a truly unique experience.
What kind of monetization tools does Esportsify offer? Options like site skins are often seen as premium advertising space for partners. Does Esportsify bring anything unique to the table in this area?
We have a few areas in which we want users to be able to monetise their sites, however we don’t want to simply limit them to the usual route of adding banners and page takeovers, especially when a great deal of gamers run Ad Blocker or similar tools to try and smooth their experience. I am also personally very anti ‘in your face’ advertising, I accept subtle ads and custom background ads, but anything that interrupts the user experience is a massive no no. We are opening up an affiliate scheme in the next month or so that will allow users to displays ads and earn revenue from them, or they can take control of the slots themselves and put their own ads in there should they choose (say they are a big team they may already have publishing partnerships to honour which is ok by us!).
We will be launching our shop features really soon which offer a very interesting array of monetisation, everything from being able to add their own products to setting up sub shops on behalf of our partners where they don’t need to act on the orders (they go straight to us to deal with) but still earn a commission for listing them.
A 3rd area of interest which has been suggested by a lot of teams is to allow a subscription service for users, similar to how Twitch manage subscriptions but giving these users access to special content, offers, giveaways etc. We are currently building out a prototype for this so some of our larger teams can test this out.
I’ve actually used a website powered by Esportsify and something I was really impressed with was the ability to have a user hierarchy within the admin. Can you tell us about some other features unique to your CMS?
It’s important to us (and to teams) that a hierarchy is in place, so many cheaply (custom) made CMS’s generally don’t have very good permission structures, these can lead to some serious issues should conflicts occur within the team, which - let’s be honest - is common place. Our main strength is the fact our features are consistent and linked where required, not just bolted on like you find on other CMS’ available. Matches are linked directly to the squads you create, and the users within that squad aren’t just text they are linked to the user database so we can pull in lots of information on team pages that the user has entered when editing their profile.
We have also built a very robust article system, which at the moment is slightly restricted due to requiring features still in development to be released, such as custom sections (eg. News, Features, Blogs) so you can simply create a new article section which doesn’t trip other any other.
Our customisation tools as mentioned above are very exciting! We are attempting things that no other platform has done, especially within the theme building process.
As far as social media APIs what functionality does eSportisfy offer its users? In addition to the standard array of “Share” buttons are users able to browse and comment on eSportisfy content using their existing social media accounts?
Our social media integration is currently limited, there are various restrictions on both the Twitter and Facebook API that don’t allow us to simply create new apps (and thus the required app id’s) automatically so we are working on a solution for that right now so we can allow social sign in on those 2 platforms. Steam is also one we are looking at as there is a wealth of data we can use (with the users permission of course) to improve their experience, not to throw ads at!
We are also working on our own single sign on that will apply through all team sites hosted on our platform, you will still have unique info per site and the site will still have access to only that particular user account, we want this just to make it easier for users to sign up to multiple team sites without going through the process of create, activate, login each time.
We’ve recently seen a trend towards popular streamers establishing their own websites with integrated chat functionality ala Steven “Destiny” Bonnell. Does eSportisfy offer similar options for streamers wishing to bring viewers to their website instead of having them watch on Twitch?
This is a massive area for us, we have a number of prominent streamers on board to assist us to make sure we create a package with features they need, and to not include the features they don’t. The themes will differ greatly from regular team sites so it’s not just a case of passing over the existing themes for them to use, they need something very personal that promotes the right content at the right time. We also have the issue of needing to make sure users are given all they need without having to visit 100 different pages on the site as - in a streamers case - the user will want to stay focused on the stream itself and not be taken away from it.
Expect some exciting stuff on this very soon!
Many competitive games offer APIs that allow external developers to plug in and harvest data. Does Esportsify offer any functionality in terms of integrating data from the Battle.net API or other game APIs? If not is that a feature you’d be looking to bring in the future?
Our current API options are with stream services (Twitch is live and MLG, Hitbox and Azubu going live soon). We are also working closely with Xfire to bring in information relating to the teams activities within tournaments. We are also working on allowing teams to create and host tournaments on their team sites.We have a developer working specifically with various game API's, we think it is mighty important to get stats from various games. It also helps massively to populate their site in real time by bringing in results, live matches and profile data.
For content updates, breaking news and more be sure to follow Joe on Twitter @ploguidic3