Recent events in the competitive Dota 2 community have raised questions about the integrity of eSports gaming organizations and how they treat their players, with a popular gamer claiming his team managers cheated him and other teammates out of hard-earned money.
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This revelation is a nod to the concept of trust, and the ongoing discussion in the technology community on how best to remove the need for trusted third-parties from all aspects of sports, business and security.
One eSports startup, FirstBlood, believes the answer lies within the blockchain.
Dishonesty and Deception: How Do We Increase Transparency in eSports?
Team Secret rocked the eSports world in October when former Dota 2 team member Jacky “EternaLEnVy” Mao published a blog post accusing the organization of actions that led to team members not receiving money earned from tournaments and a live-streaming deal.
According to the post, the team’s managers did not provide players with contracts, and never followed through on promises of a US $12-15 thousand monthly salary after securing a streaming deal with PandaTV, a Chinese livestreaming website. Instead, Mao wrote that he received $8,000 for 3 months and nothing else, while the managers took 50 percent of the PandaTV money.
Mao also claimed that his Dota 2 team didn’t receive the full amount of its tournament winnings, with team managers secretly taking 10 percent of that money as well.
In total, according to Mao, Team Secret still owes him over $50,000, and owes a teammate a much larger sum of $182,000.
On top of the money, Mao claimed that Team Secret promised other items to the Dota 2 team, including new Nvidia GTX 1080 graphics cards, none of which allegedly ever came to fruition.
Thus far, Team Secret has not moved to confirm or deny the allegations. However, the organization did publish a post on October 18 that, while not explicitly mentioning the scandal, alluded to accusations of its poor treatment of players.
“We’re determined to provide our players with the care and support that they deserve,” the post stated, “whilst enabling them to share in the financial rewards from participating in some of the world’s largest tournaments.”
“There’s obviously a cost in providing that support.”
FirstBlood: Decentralize Trust, Do Away With Dishonesty
FirstBlood Technologies head of business development Marco Cuesta said his company’s new platform solves the problems caused by dishonest gaming organizations through its decentralized platform.
Based on the Ethereum blockchain, FirstBlood’s platform removes the task of distributing match winnings from centralized team administrations and hands the responsibility to automated smart contracts.
“Our Witness Node Software automatically verifies game data,” Cuesta said, adding, it can integrate into any game title or platform as long as there is an API to support transmission of game data.
Once the system verifies match results, the money is automatically distributed to the winning individual or team — team managers don’t have a chance to sneak tournament money into their own pockets.
And if teams or players disagree with the automated results, or try to lie about who won a match, FirstBlood has a decentralized method of dispute resolution, which they say rivals the efficiency of GameBattles.
“Our [dispute resolution system] is another first for the eSports industry,” Cuesta said.
Mao himself, in his blog post, expressed an industry-wide demand for such a product when he recalled discussions he had with a teammate about other eSports organizations exploiting their players.
FirstBlood’s platform will initially support League of Legends — a close cousin to Mao’s Dota 2 wheelhouse.
While the platform won’t be able to keep team managers honest when it comes to non-tournament income, players have a chance to secure a large portion of their eSports revenue on the blockchain.
The Road Ahead
FirstBlood’s sale was a success, kicking off in late September to a one-day haul of over US $5.5 million in a matter of minutes.
Following the sale, the FirstBlood team got back to work on the matchmaking system, preparing for an alpha launch this December as part of a semi-private test phase.
To participate in the alpha, individuals must sign up on FirstBlood’s Slack channel and its official site. Alpha testers will get to compete with each other on a TestNet version of the platform, on a to-be-determined PC game.
The team told EconoTimes that the platform’s MainNet is expected to launch during the beta phase, the start date for which has not yet been disclosed.
Looking to the horizon at FirstBlood’s full launch and subsequent progression, Cuesta said it may consider adding console titles to the platform, but will focus on PC games in the short-term.
“This [PC] market has been developing for a while and there’s more of a culture around it as well,” Cuesta told EconoTimes. “But the option always exists for us to put on console games.”
Can the blockchain make the eSports industry more honest? Let us know in the comments below.
Images via Shutterstock, FirstBlood.
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Note: Evan Faggart is an employee of the Vanbex Group, which provides public relations services to FirstBlood.