Millions of high school kids play online multiplayer games, but rarely have crosstown rivals in Fortnite or Valorant. PlayVS he wants that to happen with his platform for school-sponsored sports, and he’s growing like a madman, doubling his staff in the last year and putting thousands of schools on his platform.
PlayVS connects online games with the school’s administration and official brand, elevating sports from hobbies to school-sponsored activities.
“I think we’re building the biggest company in games,” founder and CEO Delane Parnell he said in an interview at Disrupt 2020 this week. With about 20,000 high schools currently enrolled and nearly $ 100 million in bank growth, that’s not a totally unrealistic statement.
The company collects $ 64 per player per semester season, which starts to add up very quickly when you have Counter-Strike teams of a dozen people with alternates, or League teams competing in the same school – multiplied by 20,000, of course. A bit of towel math suggests that revenue from existing customers is easily in the tens of millions.
Parnell offered the following metaphor to explain what the company aspired to.
“Imagine if there was a basketball court, and all the kids who ever wanted to play basketball, either by the name of their school, or by pick up, or by some sort of tournament, here we go the court they were going to play with, “he said.” That’s what we’re building. “
Sure, it sounds a bit like a monopoly on circles, but the problem now is that there really isn’t a common court. Esports is wildly disorganized at that level, if it’s organized at all (and let’s be honest, even at the professional level it’s a bit confusing). PlayVS wants to provide the connective tissue so that there is a place where players and administrators go when it comes to competitive inter-school games.
Parnell explained that the last year has been about learning the ropes and creating a presence in the world that is also quite confusing for the state’s school systems.
“We’ve certainly built the company’s base on collaboration with the NFHS – essentially the NCAA of high schools, governing and writing the rules for our high school sports,” he said. But then individual relationships will have to be established with districts, financial programs, heads of state, and of course the game publishers themselves, who are likely eager to connect with the younger generation of gamers.
So far schools in 23 states have been shut down, and Parnell said they are on track to get every union state on board by 2022.
“These are partnerships that take a while to form.” It takes even more time to build the technology that actually allows online sports, which most people think exists today, but doesn’t really exist, ”he said.“ So we started investing a lot in the hiring a team to build our product. We have a lot of capital in the bank and we intend to use it very wisely. ”
The creation of the product is more than the purchase of servers – it tries to create parity with the tools available in the context of sports such as football and basketball.
“There are products and services that we can cook up, things like recruitment, scouting, proven technology, highlights … these are things that normally exist from independent companies in traditional sports,” he said. “A company does one thing, a thousand companies do ancillary things that make the sports experience better for every stakeholder, a parent, a coach, a player, etc. We have to be able to do all these things in the PlayVS ecosystem, because we are the operator of the league is the sole holder of this data. We will effectively have complete control over what that experience looks like and all the revenue models associated with it. “
By comparison he suggested fantasy sports, now a huge industry but not one dominated by a single entity. “If there was a group, like CBS for example, that could have aggregated all this behavior, it would be a $ 40-50 billion a year company. But they couldn’t come in with, you know, the NFL. , the NBA, to give them the exclusive rights to be the only fantasy supplier in the market, ”explains Parnell. “Game publishers are willing to do that with us, they’re willing to integrate with our product because they know we can deliver. So I think it’s a great opportunity. And it could be worth hundreds of billions of dollars.”
PlayVS will not be expanding into pro leagues, he confirmed, saying high school and high school work is how much they can handle now. But they are overcome in the best way.
“It’s almost as if the NBA has been around for four years, and then they go back and say hey, we need to build high school basketball, college basketball, etc.,” he said. “Obviously there’s a lot of recovery to do.”