The pandemic has resulted in a growth spurt for gaming, an industry that was already growing on the backs of esports and Twitch streaming. So it makes sense that startups big and small are flocking to the industry to find their own place in the ecosystem.
One such company is Shotcall, founded by Thomas Gentle, Gordon Li and Riley Auten, which aims to increase engagement for streamers by giving their fans what they really want: a chance to play alongside their favorite content creator.
The company today announced the close of a $2.2 million seed round led by Initial Capital, New Stack and Lerer Hippeau.
As it stands now, viewers who tune in to a Twitch stream only have so many ways of interacting with their favorite streamer, whether it’s gifting subscriptions to the channel or cheering with bits, Twitch’s virtual currency. Streamers with a smaller audience are often pretty engaged with their chat, but as they grow their audiences, it’s harder for viewers to stand out in the crowd.
And even if you do manage to stand out and get a shout-out, that’s all it is. The streamer says thanks and reads your message and that’s that. Some streamers host games with their subscribers, but organizing them can be tedious at best, and monetizing them is nearly impossible.
With Shotcall, streamers can engage with their fans in a way that not only gives that fan a chance to really connect with them, but that also creates more high-quality, shareable content.
The platform allows streamers to set up a tournament, coaching session, Q&A, charity event or whatever type of event they’d like, and fans can pay to get in on the action. Shotcall organizes these community events, giving the streamer control over the length of each gaming session, how much they’d like to charge to participate and the rules of engagement (whether fans can use mics, curse on stream, etc.).
“Fans are at the center of the entire global value chain in the gaming world,” said Gentle. “They dictate what games are bought and which content creators rise and fall out of favor. They pay the bills for everything. And yet their interactions are weak. And if you take a look at the data, they have a high desire and a high willingness to pay more if you were to give them what they truly want. And that is engagement.”
The revenue split between hosts and Shotcall depends on the type of event, whether that streamer is a partner, etc., but the most Shotcall will ever take is 25%.
The company is in the process of integrating directly with Twitch and Discord (with bots) to make the process even more seamless.
Thus far, Shotcall has amassed around 350 active hosts and more than 4,500 fans have been active on the platform in the past two months.