Online gaming is a bigger industry than music and movies combined, estimated at $300 billion a year. Israeli gaming startup Edge promises to send the already eye-popping numbers soaring by enabling gamers to monetize their most exciting gameplay moments.
“Legendary,” a Call of Duty: Warzone battle royale superstar, was tapped by Edge to try out its platform, which lets players clip their own game highlights and turn them into standalone mini-games that others can play.
“They showed me the technology and I fell in love with it,” says Legendary, 25, an Israeli superstar gamer better known to his 50,000 followers under the handle Legendary117S.
“It’s something that doesn’t exist anywhere in the world,” says Legendary, who has been a professional gamer since he was 17. “I want to give it to my followers. It’s content that’s new and special.”
There are 3.3 billion gamers worldwide, including 1.5 billion people who watch others play on social media platforms like Twitch, a company reported to be worth around $15 billion.
Edge hopes to play in this big league. The company’s plug-and-play technology uniquely offers gamers the opportunity to go beyond simply watching other people play. With Edge, gamers can actually enter and replay memorable moments from successful players’ games an infinite number of times and in endless ways, trying to break their records and challenges. Edge calls these video snippets, which can be created with just a click, “Playables.”
The company, founded in June 2021, is barely a year old but is already making waves. During a controlled release with selected gamers like Legendary, Edge has seen usage soar from an average 30 minutes a day in February to 92 minutes on July 10 – a higher average daily usage than TikTok and Instagram combined.
More significant still, a gamer plays a single playable more than 250 times on average compared to about 5.7 watches and rewatches for a TikTok clip.
“We live in a generation of people who get bored easily, who want new content all the time on demand. Short content,” says Edge’s CEO and Co-founder Asaf Gazit. “The gaming world hasn’t made that shift yet, as TikTok has.”
“Edge is basically going to change the way gamers interact with their influencers, where they’re not just watching the highlights, but also playing them,” says Jon Liebman, an investment analyst at OurCrowd, Israel’s most active venture firm and an investor in Edge. “Basically, it’s like being able to recreate a TikTok post. It’s a way to interact with influencers in an immersive way.”
Both the studios that create the original games and the well-known gamers who create these standalone clips stand to make money from the new technology. Game studios, by constantly creating new content, will benefit from continued player retention and engagement and be able to sell add-ons. And while the basic experience of entering the content and replaying it will be free, influencers will be able to monetize the followings they have built by charging gamers to participate in challenges where they can compete for prizes and ranking. More features will be added soon.
Gamers, meanwhile, will receive unlimited new content.
Tens of thousands of users like Legendary are participating in Edge’s controlled release. The company expects to take its product to market later this year and plans to launch more games before the end of 2022, but the potential is as big as the games market itself. Edge’s technology already supports two game engines, Unity and Unreal, that are used by more than 90% of games. To gain access to gaming rights, Edge has to strike deals with studios that create the games. More than 40 are in the pipeline to integrate its technology.
“Our technology allows everyone in the world to create the most interesting playables and let everybody play. It creates new content all the time. Fast, instant, created by the community, and it keeps the players engaged, because the game always changes,” Gazit says.
Edge’s sights are not confined to gaming. It sees its technology opening a door to a whole new dimension of social interactions in the virtual world of the Metaverse. Imagine a musician sharing a great moment in a concert with his online followers, who can then play along with the band.
“We believe that you can use it to acquire users on platforms like YouTube,” Gazit says. “TikTok is worth $250 billion and has a billion users. Engagement is one-fiftieth of what we see. I’d like to believe that 5 to 10 years down the line we can be there, too.”
This month, Edge closed a $30 million funding round, led by California-based Corner Ventures with participation from Jerusalem-based OurCrowd, and backed by gaming pioneer Playtika, that brought total investments to $42 million. The company aims to reach 7 million monthly active users by mid-2024, and to reach profitability early that same year, Gazit said.
Legendary, the gamer, spends eight hours a day gaming, seven days a week and says he has participated in hundreds of product beta tests, but this is something special.
“We’re all eagerly waiting for it,” Legendary says. “In terms of content creation, it’s the best product I’ve encountered.”
“You create something that hasn’t been seen anywhere else. Every person I’ve told about it in the streaming and gaming world has said they’d like such an option,” he says.