Rivalry.gg co-founder and CEO, Steven Salz, on company’s growth, media strategy and mobile gaming
Rivalry.gg recently listed on the TSX Venture Exchange and is applying for a betting license in Ontario. It has also launched a new category in gaming – MMOGG. We spoke to Rivalry’s CEO Steven Salz on the company’s growth, the potential of mobile gaming as well as Rushlane.
It’s been a great year for Rivalry.gg, a sports betting and media company based out of Toronto. And things are looking up for the company in the upcoming year, says Co-Founder & CEO Steven Salz told Esports.gg.
The company recently announced its blockbuster Q3 2021 results featuring triple-digit growth over the last year. With a 679% YoY revenue growth and zero debt, Rivalry is making waves in the industry. A unique focus on its social media approach has also helped the company with significant increases in its social media engagement numbers.
Rivalry.gg goes Public - Eye on expansion and new markets
Rivalry.gg is now listed on TSX Venture Exchange.
Steven Salz co-founded Rivalry.gg in 2018 and the company has seen phenomenal growth since. Focused primarily on esports betting, Rivalry.gg recently went public by listing on the TSX Ventures Exchange.
Going public after just about three years since inception is a much shorter time period compared to other tech companies. Several tech companies take 8-9 years to go public, while some stay betting operators just stay private for a very long time.
Going public offers several benefits to the company. The due diligence required by third party investors can take a while if you are a private company. But their listing on the reputable TSX Venture Exchange allows Rivalry.gg to secure more investments and move faster through the processes.
Rivalry is a Toronto-based company and it made sense to enlist in the TSX Venture Exchange.
“It's better to be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in a very big pond” - Steven Salz.
The decision to list on the TSX Venture Exchange is partly because Rivalry wants to consolidate its position as the premier betting company in Canada.
Ontario is one of the biggest betting markets in not only Canada but also the world. The Canadian province opened applications for licensed betting operators a few weeks ago. Rivalry.gg has already applied with the AGCO (Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario) to become a fully registered operator of internet gaming and sports betting in the province of Ontario.
The current state of Ontario’s betting industry features several gray market operators. With these new licenses, Ontario will see an influx of regulated and licensed operators. Despite expecting competition from both ends of the spectrum, Steven Salz is pleased with a formal framework for betting operators.
Ontario’s Ontario’s Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk released a report that would allow regulators to adjust their plans. We asked Salz if a possible delay in obtaining the AGCO license would adversely affect Rivalry’s plans for 2022.
“Our fundamentals are strong. A delay would not have any impact on our operators for next year.”
The company has over $40 million in cash and zero debt. With most of its revenue covering fixed costs the company is in a very good place. However, it will need more money to expand and grow into other markets. The AGCO license is just the first step.
Rivalry.gg holds an Isle of Man license that allows it to accept bets from anywhere in the world. It does not operate in the US, but is looking to expand into other regions. The company recently obtained a license to operate in Australia as one of the first steps in its plans to expand to other countries.
The Red Bull Approach to Marketing
The Red Bull approach to marketing leaves a long-lasting imprint on your mind.
But expanding to other regions is often easier said than done. Each region offers a unique perspective when it comes to cultural differences. Rivalry operates at a much deeper level and often looks to carve a niche for itself. In most of the markets it operates, Rivalry does not compete with other betting operators. Instead it focuses on getting users used to its platform and increasing brand awareness via various social media campaigns and sponsorships.
“Our approach is somewhat similar to Red Bull. I’ve never seen a Red Bull advertisement that encourages you to buy their product.”
Red Bull does not directly sell its product via advertisements. It's marketing approach promotes a different way of life to its customers. You will see Red Bull branding in several extreme sports such as dirt biking, F1 racing and more. Red Bull sells its brand and not the product.
And that is exactly what Rivalry aims to do. Keeping open further growth avenues than just betting, Rivalry wants to sell its brand. It has been very successful in doing so, as seen by its growth and engagement numbers across its social media handles.
Rivalry’s approach to marketing is definitely not unique, but has proven to be extremely effective in some cases. The company wants to be present in the subconscious and not just market itself as a betting destination. It leaves open the opportunity to diversify in the future.
Opportunity in Mobile gaming
Mobile gaming is one of the fastest growing markets globally.
Mobile Gaming is already a significantly bigger market than PC Gaming. With easy availability of mobile phones and cheaper internet, the mobile gaming market is growing at a phenomenal pace. But it is also a market where many established operators do not have much of a presence. And this is something Rivalry wants to target in the next few months.
Rivalry.gg sponsors an Indian BGMI team that recently competed in the Red Bull M.E.O. Season 4.The global Mobile game revenue is expected to reach $90.7 B in 2021 and forecast to grow to $116.4B in 2024. This represents a +11.2% CAGR during the 2019-24 period.
Several operators offer bets on mobile esports, however, their bets are limited and often do not have a lot of variety. Steven Salz sees this as a massive opportunity for Rivalry.gg to tap an untapped but already proven market.
Currently, the big games such as Dota 2, League of Legends and CS: GO feature the most traffic at Rivalry.gg. However, Riot’s latest FPS offering, Valorant, is gaining rapid popularity. The VCT Champions Berlin was one of the most popular events in Valorant
“Valorant is one of the fastest growing titles at Rivalry.gg and we expect it to grow even further in 2022” - Steven Salz.
What is Rushlane? What’s an MMOGG?
Rushlane is a Online Gambling Game that aims to increase social interaction in online casinos.
Rushlane is a unique offering by the company. It is a MMOGG - Massively Multiplayer Online Gambling Game, a new category by the company. One of the reasons for creating this game, says Steven, was to offer players an opportunity to socialize with each other. The online casino game takes the concept of a casino game and has added several features to enhance the experience for the average user.
A game in Rushlane does not start unless the lobby is full. Players pay an entry fee to the pool and then the race begins. But it's what’s being added apart from the transactions that makes Rushlane unique. The developers are always adding new features to the game, allowing players to spend time in the virtual world. It is an attempt to create a social experience and a place to hang out for users, a far cry from the current transactional nature of online casinos.
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Editor | Twitter @rohan_esports
Started esports with Dota, moved to CS, then OW, back to Dota 2, and now a bit of Valorant. I love city-building games, and have spent hours in Cities: Skylines only to have the traffic defeat me. Currently on a reading spree - the aim is to read 150 books in 2023. Can I do it? Would you?