Trevor Doerksen is CEO of ePlay Digital.
What is ePlay Digital and what does it do?
Doerksen: ePlay is one of Calgary’s growing number of game publishers. We have created a celebrity-filled, Pokemon Go style game platform for sports, e-sports, and entertainment.
We will soon launch the first location-based title from the augmented reality mobile game platform based on the NBA. In Pokemon Go, users are competing for monsters. In Big Shot Basketball, users are competing for NBA players and when LeBron scores … you score!
Pokemon Go style games are ranked number five in China and number four in the U.S. for mobile game revenue in 2019 – they’re even bigger than Fortnite mobile.
The leading games make between $50 million and $80 million per month on in-app purchases, e-sports and advertising.
We’ve partnered with one of China’s largest media conglomerates to distribute and market Big Shot Basketball in the NBA-hungry nation. In North America, we’re building celebrities and the brands that endorse them directly into the game – they are characters and special features that will help users’ advance in the game and make their avatars look great.
When did the company start? Why and how was it created?
Doerksen: ePlay was created in 2017 to build on the team’s experience in building and releasing games for Fortune 500 clients such as ESPN, Intel, Sony, Time Warner and others. The team decided it was time to leverage the experience in creating games for TV, FIFA World Cup, and the L.A. Lakers to create and publish games for fans. We got to know what sports, e-sports and entertainment fans were looking for and wanted to deliver cutting-edge experiences for and with audiences.
Augmented Reality was maturing quickly and what we could do, just a couple years after our first augmented reality project for musicians, was advancing. We knew we could take advantage of the huge opportunity in mobile games for sports, e-sports and entertainment.
How has your business and your reach been since inception?
Doerksen: We’ve released a beta version of Big Shot and attracted supporters like seven-time NBA champion Robert Horry, sports broadcaster Lindsay McCormick and other celebrities we’re building directly into the game. The beta has been a great success and now we’re gearing up for launch and marketing the game with our partners.
The celebrities we’re building into the game reach over 100 million people on social media and TV. Our partner in China is the NBA broadcast rights holder for China and has over 100 million people on their platform.
ePlay’s job is to leverage our partners’ audiences to obtain downloads, entertain users and expand direct-to-consumer revenue for the company.
What have been your greatest challenges as an entrepreneur in this business?
Doerksen: Working with celebrities can be exciting and fun. Making sure they’re happy and supportive is a challenge. Weeks can turn to months to get everything right with look, feel and user experience. These are the type of people who talk to their fans and audiences every day. They’re in tune to what works, what impresses and newest trends.
Taking advantage of this relationship with audiences is a great opportunity, getting it right is demanding.
What are your growth plans for the company?
Doerksen: ePlay is starting with Big Shot for NBA. We will launch with a tour we’re calling the Big Shot Bash in multiple countries starting in 2019
Adding other Big Shot sports titles is an obvious area for growth – soccer, NFL, NHL, etc.
Big Shot users play Home Court Battle, Swish AR or Big Shot Battle Royale challenges. These location-based, augmented reality, and exciting challenges make great e-sports streaming and tournament content for viewers and gamers alike. The chance to play against your friends or with an NBA legend in head-to-head, multiplayer, and bracket e-sports tournaments has been exciting for our beta users and will be for viewing audiences, too.
Creating a league around competitive team play in over 10 planned sports and entertainment titles is part of our 2019 growth plan. Launching titles in markets outside of the North American and China is also key to growth with several key markets identified.
League sponsors and in-game brands will reach lucrative audiences through product placement, advertising and seeing their actual products on Big Shot avatars, 3D scenes, and in their physical and online stores through the Big Shot location-based augmented reality mobile game.
Sports and e-sports teams, leagues and brands can drive retail footfall behaviour and create deep engagement with new and existing customers and fans.
– Mario Toneguzzi for Calgary’s Business