Stakester: An Interview with Andy Nolan
You can be forgiven if you’ve never heard of Stakester, I’d not heard of it until one of their NFTs appeared on my LinkedIn page. After I did some digging I discovered an app for iOS and Android which allows users to register and compete against other users across particular videogames to win small pots of money of gems which can be redeemed against goods from one month of Spotify Premium, right up to a Peloton Bike.
For each game played through the app, you’re rewarded with gems which are used in the prize catalogue. However, real money is up for grabs too – $1, $10 or $25, all you need to do is ready up and the app finds you an opponent. At this point, the app gives you the user’s details in order to play the game. After the game concludes, each user takes a photo of the results screen and submits it to the app for the winner to be rewarded.
The NFTs are a new thing, something fancy which adds extra value to using the app. In fact, while the NFTs have been minted and sold, the team is still working on implementing the utility they will deliver. The NFTs themselves act like a membership to better utility within the app, in fact, they look like a backstage pass, except these have a cheat code scribbled and attached, reminding users of how we traded cheat codes back in the 1990s.
I sat down with Stakester’s head of marketing, Andy Nolan to discuss aspirations for the app, the future of Web3 inclusion and gaming competition.
GMW3 – Can you tell us a little about how Stakester originated?
Nolan – Our founder, and CEO, Tom Fairey had set up a jujitsu match with this big Russian guy, they put money down because Tom was the smaller guy. Tom won, the Russian never paid up. It made Tom wonder if there was an app that could cover these kinds of competitions and gambles. He was working in financial security at the time, he was bored, so he roped in a few friends from work to set up Stakester, but for videogames, as jujitsu was probably too niche.
GMW3 – Stakester allows players to set up competition across mobile games, but also console and PC. Where do you see the most activity?
Nolan – It’s interesting, we thought there would be people flitting between the two, but there’s not as much of that as we expected. At the moment, there are two disparate audiences, but historically the ‘arenas’ side, which is console play, has always been bigger. Having said that, the mobile side is starting to pick up and we’ve got some really interesting stuff coming down the pipeline.
GMW3 – It seems as if Stakester is attempting to create a community of gamers to play together, after all, once you’ve played a game against someone, there’s no stopping you staying friends.
Nolan – I like the analogy that this is like playing five-a-side football in the evenings after work. We’re all playing, we’re a bit older, the football dream is over for me, but I love playing because of the experience you have; there’s competition, but it’s minor and you can make new friends.
Stakester scratches that competitive itch, but with people rather than some unnamed person behind a screen. With our upcoming app update, we’ll be adding in direct challenges, plus a much better chat function to really stimulate the growth of the community.
GMW3 – Can you let us in on when the app update will be with us?
Nolan – I’m not exactly sure – I don’t want to give you a date and it be incorrect – but I’ve seen it up and running, with all the new features and it looks great. There’s a huge facelift on the console side, plus we’ve got some great new games coming to the mobile section; the ones we have right now are all from small developers, but we’ve got some recognisable signing on. Everything is moving a mile and minute!
GMW3 – That’s understandable, particularly with the inclusion of Web3 functionality. How has the app been fairing to this point?
Nolan – We’ve had over 100k signups on the app to this point, which is really encouraging. Our most popular games are FIFA on the console side and Quick Dunk for mobile. It seems most players like to play for around $5-10 per game.
GMW3 – With the recent launch of NFTs, you’re aiming to give utility to players through VIP access. How did the community react to the announcement and inclusion of the rather divisive Web3 concept?
Nolan – I think, there are stumbling blocks for gamers, with NFTs, right? I think, with our project, we didn’t want to create anything which could upset people, where some would just steal IP from a beloved franchise or something like that. Ours are built on giving you something which translates into value. We used cheat codes because nobody owns them, they’re in the public domain. It’s clear that this isn’t a cash grab.
We had a little bit of a mixed response, but there wasn’t really a backlash. I think people understood what we were trying to do and that the NFTs would open up new experiences within the app.
There’s a lot of negative press, plus barriers for people to overcome before that would even buy one. Our only unfortunate situation was launching them right as LUNA, and the market, crashed. But, we’re looking long-term and we aim to deliver all of the benefits by this summer (2022).
GMW3 – Will the sale of the NFTs help fund bigger cash prizes for players?
Nolan – Absolutely. You’ll be able to play for more money. I can’t wait until we have our first $1,000 competition, that’s going to be amazing. However, it’s not just the prize pools, we’ll be able to offer more varied prizes for players to trade their gems through an exclusive prize store for NFT holders.
Those who own a high tier NFT will also benefit from royalties from secondary sales, as each month that money goes into a pot and then NFT holders can collect their share.
GMW3 – Are there plans to offer crypto payments for winners of competitions?
Nolan – I believe so. I think the plan, as they stand right now, is to have a crypto version of the app where you can deposit crypto, play with it and take your winnings as crypto. The Web3 space moves so quickly, it might be subject to change, but I think it would be a cool direction for Stakester.
GMW3 – it would definitely offer the product to two separate audiences, while still focusing on friendly competition.
Nolan – Yeah, and I think the app speaks to two different audiences in the sense that a lot of people in the crypto world want to play games to earn a living, while there are others – typically in Europe and the United States – who want to heighten the tension of the game while still enjoying a game of FIFA.
Right now, our biggest audiences are Europe and the US, mostly because a lot of our marketing centres on FIFA, as it’s our biggest game, it has the most cohesive audience and we’ve got a really engaged Twitter following of FIFA fans.
GMW3 – You must have seen a large jump in users recently, particularly while the pandemic kept everyone indoors?
Nolan – Absolutely! During the pandemic, the app traffic just exploded. It was unbelievable. It was funny how we could track data points; when everyone was working from home we’d often see a spike of activity around 2 pm as if they’ve just had lunch and have time for a quick game before getting back to work.
A lot of people were sat at home playing games anyway and Stakester added an extra dimension to their playing.
Stakester is available on both Android and iOS, through the relevant storefronts.