As the esports industry expands and evolves, it is gradually becoming more and more professional — but it still lives up to the disparaging “Wild West” moniker at times. Every so often, an organisation seemingly disappears into thin air with a trail of players claiming unpaid winnings or salaries, or players visibly run afoul of contract stipulations.
That’s where Edge aims to fill a void. The esports startup employs automated smart contracts to ensure that all parties meet their obligations and receive their stakes, and that the whole process is as transparent and effortless as possible.
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“Edge is a data-driven payments platform,” explained co-founder and CEO Adam Whyte. “What we do is we make sure that every single gamer gets paid the prize money, salaries, and sponsorship fees they’re promised by tournament organizers and teams, and we help tournament organisers, publishers, and teams manage their contracts, payments, and data in one platform.”
Whyte worked as a sports lawyer between 2009 and 2015, with football clubs such as AS Roma, Manchester City and Sevilla FC, on matters such as contract negotiations, transfer agreements, and sponsorship agreements. He also argued about 25 total cases before the Court of Arbitration for Sport, FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Chamber, and the UEFA Disciplinary Committee.
He then moved to London and completed a Master’s degree in business and got deep into Blizzard Entertainment’s Hearthstone, logging some 30,000 matches and entering pro tournaments. However, he quickly realised that competing wasn’t his true calling in esports.
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“I got tired of losing to people half my age and twice as good as me,” Whyte recalled, so he started helping professional players instead. “I assisted a UK Hearthstone player in his contract negotiations. I realised that the contract he was going to sign was not a great one. As I onboarded more clients and more customers, I saw that across the entire industry, contractual stability and commercial certainty were nice-to-haves, not par for the course.”
Whyte’s initial efforts ultimately gave way to Edge, which he co-founded with chairman David Yarnton. As prize pools swell and more major brands sponsor events and teams, there will be less and less room for esports organisations to be lax about payments and contracts. That’s why Whyte believes that a platform like Edge is essential for esports going forward.
“When you have new industries, you always have volatility. Volatility results in commercial uncertainty and instability, and dilution of brand equity,” he said. “Brands right now want to know that the tournaments that they back and the players that they sponsor are ones that observe their contracts.”
“I think that the industry is not going to stop growing, especially in a post-COVID-19 era,” Whyte continued. “Relying on analogue processes is no longer a viable option because everyone is going digital. Even sending things via post in the mail is more difficult, so we believe that having a digital, data-driven solution for a digital, data-driven industry is the future of it, and there’s no reason that Edge can’t be applied to more industries in the future.”
That’s one side of what the Edge platform offers. The other is data. Edge works with publisher and social media APIs to present key, actionable insights, including aggregate statistics about tournament participants, as well as broadcast data directly from platforms like Twitch and TikTok. It can also monitor such platforms to ensure that contract obligations are being fulfilled.
Edge’s data storage platform uses immutable technology akin to blockchain, which means that all contract data is logged and permanent. That’s ideal for transparency’s sake, so when a prospective new partner comes calling for contract data, performance metrics, income and expenses, and more, a company on the Edge platform doesn’t have to scramble to pull all of that together.
“It’s an opportunity for a team to say: I’ve got all my shit together. I’ve got my documents in order,” Whyte said bluntly.
Read the full version of this article in Edition 5 of The Esports Journal.