How to Build an App For eSports?

It’s likely that human beings played sports for most of our history. After all, life has its’ ups and downs. Sports provide that unique blend of temporary excitement along with the intense physical and mental effort. Hence, sports remain a constructive avenue of handling life’s stress.

While most of the time our imagination is captured by intensely physical sports like Soccer, Tennis, swimming, mountaineering, etc., we have played other sports too. Board games such as Chess or the Chinese board game ’Go’ have also captured our imagination since they allow us to compete using our thinking ability.

However, it‘s modern communication technologies that have expanded the horizon of non-physical sports. Before the intervention of modern communication technologies, many players around the world competing in video games would be inconceivable. Technology has changed the game. The eSports market is expected to generate US $ 1.65 billion in 2021, as this Statista report states. In 2018, an estimated 380 million people worldwide view or participate in eSports, a number that‘s expected to reach 557 million in 2021. Read this Statista report for more details.

It‘s clearly a growing market. You can make a mark here with you eSports app hence, I will describe how to build an app for eSports in this article.

Contents

What are eSports and who play these?
Key features of an eSports app
Popular eSports apps: a few examples
eSports app development approach:
SDKs and APIs to develop an app for eSports:
Mobile backend for the eSports app
Project management approach

What are eSports and who play these?

 

eSports are organized video game events where multiple players participate. Most participants are professional players of these game, additionally, there are several tournaments. The tournaments lead to championships both local and global. “League of Legends” is the most popular eSports.

Most eSports enthusiasts are male. Women constituted 19% of total eSports viewers in the US in 2016. Most eSports viewers or players belong to the 18-24 years age group, whereas the next prominent age group if 25-34. View more details about this statistics in this Statista report.

Key features of an eSports app

With right features in your app, you can grab a share of this growing eSports pie. Consider including the following features:

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  • The simplicity of the ’User Interface’ (UI): Best eSports apps are easy-to-use and feature a simple UI.
  • Calendar: Each calendar day should list all events while the time-based listing is highly preferable.
  • Tournament status: The app should clearly lay out which tournament is in which stage, additionally, which stages are still pending.
  • Newsfeed: The app should include important eSports news in the users’ news feed. It should include news circulating on social media since these are important outlets for eSports news.
  • Chat rooms: This enables users to communicate with other eSports enthusiasts so that exchange notes about favorite games, tournaments, etc.

Read more about these important features in “The best eSports apps: pro gaming news on your smartphone”.

Popular eSports apps: a few examples

Following are a few well-known eSports apps for you to get great design ideas:

Strafe eSports: One of the top eSports apps, Strafe is available on both Android and iOS. They provide eSports schedule and live results. This app covers a wide range of eSports and tournaments. Detailed statistics about games, teams, and tournaments drive wider user engagement. Popular eSports like ’League of Legends‘, ’Starcraft 2‘ are included in this app, furthermore, they plan to cover more in future. Users can join others and predict winners, additionally, they can get the latest news and full-match ’Video on demand‘ (VOD).

Toornament eSports: This is available for both Android and iOS. They cover all popular eSports like ’League of Legends‘, ’Dota 2‘, ’Call of Duty‘, etc. The app features hundreds of tournaments every week, with detailed reporting. Users can follow live results, additionally, they can get VODs in case they miss the live streaming of a match.

theScore eSports: It‘s one of the most popular eSports apps. They have an Android app, additionally, it‘s available on iOS too. The app covers popular eSports. Score, live streaming, schedule, trending news, features contents, and VOD are some of the key features. ’League of Legends‘, ’Dota 2‘, ’Counter-Strike: GO‘, ’Hearthstone‘ are some of the key eSports covered in this app.

eSports app development approach:

I recommend a custom development approach to build an eSports app. This enables you to add differentiated features. I will describe a few ’Software development kits’ (SDK) and ’Application programming interfaces’ (APIs) to make the development a bit easier since they address several common functions. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

I also recommend that you use a ’Mobile Backend as a Service‘ (MBaaS) provider. This saves you the mobile backend development and management effort so that you can focus on designing and developing a good mobile front-end. More on MBaaS later. From the project management perspective, I recommend you use the ’Agile‘ methodology. Read our guide “How to build an Agile development team?” on this subject for more details.

SDKs and APIs to develop an app for eSports:

In this section, I will go over a few SDK/API options to develop an eSports app.

SDK/API option #1: Wowza GoCoder SDK, and Wowza Streaming Cloud

Wowza offers their SDK and cloud platform to build an eSports app. Wowza is a popular provider of streaming media solutions hence, with their SDK you can cover that aspect of your eSports app.

Get the Wowza GoCoder SDK here. You can build Android and iOS apps with it. It supports mobile playback, timed metadata, and 4K UHD streaming. Their configurable network Bitrate improves the user experience with streaming.

Wowza offers extensive documentation for their SDK, as follows:

  1. Overall GoCoder SDK documentation.
  2. GoCoder Android API reference.
  3. GoCoder iOS API reference.
  4. SDK tutorials.
  5. iOS sample projects on GitHub.
  6. Android sample projects on GitHub.

The SDK is free however, it comes bundled with ’Wowza Streaming Cloud’ or ’Wowza Streaming Engine’. If you want to manage your own infrastructure, then the streaming engine could be the appropriate solution for you. In this article, I assume that you will not invest in your own infrastructure hence, I recommend ’Wowza Streaming Cloud‘.

You don‘t need to arrange a separate MBaaS account if you use their streaming cloud. Check out their pricing page for ’Wowza Streaming Cloud‘ pricing plans. The company also has a blog post to guide developers working on the eSports app use case. You can read it in “Video game streaming and eSports: building a live platform”.

API option #2: Abios eSports API

Abios, a Stockholm, Sweden-based company specializes in gathering, enriching, and distributing eSports data and statistics. They offer an eSports data API suite. When you create an app for eSports using their APIs, you get the following advantages:

  • All relevant eSports data will be available in one place, additionally, the data is in one uniform format.
  • Event data, eSports-related content, statistics, metadata, live streams, and results: Abios APIs provide you with all of these.
  • Highly granular data: They offer match-level, series-level, play-by-play, player-level, team-level, and detailed match summaries. You get both detailed and aggregate data.
  • Your app can get to most minute events within the eSports game and gather comprehensive data around that using these APIs.
  • Powerful statistics are available with these APIs.
  • They cover all popular games, for e.g., ’League of Legends‘, ’Dota 2‘, ’Counter-Strike: Global Offensive‘, ’StarCraft‘. Your app users will find their favorite games easily.

Abios has comprehensive documentation about their APIs, and you can access them here. You need to contact them for their pricing plans.

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API option #3: PandaScore API

PandaScore provides an API suite for eSports apps. You can access their APIs and get eSports data, subsequently, you can use them in your mobile app. They cover all popular games like ’League of Legends‘, ’Dota 2‘, ’Overwatch‘, ’Counter-Strike: Global Offensive‘. Check their coverage page for a detailed list of games.

The company uses ’Artificial Intelligence‘ (AI), additionally, they have their editor APIs. This combination allows them to collect and normalize data. This is then channeled through a single API for apps to use. PandaScore provides high-quality API documentation, which you can access here.

They have a free plan that allows you to only access fixtures. A paid plan offers historical data only, whereas their ’Live‘ plans allow live data for eSports. You can also configure your pricing plan based on games, i.e., if you want to focus on a few games, you can buy live data for only those. Visit their pricing page for more details. You can sign-up for their APIs here.

API option #4: Amazon GameOn

Amazon offers their GameOn APIs for developers to easily build game apps. There are eSports-friendly features hence, you can make an app for betting on eSports with it.

The APIs make it easy for you to increase your ROI by increasing the player base, additionally, retaining players is also easier. You can set up leagues, leaderboards, and multi-round tournaments. Players can create their own competitions and invite other participants. You can also offer real-world prizes fulfilled by Amazon.

GameOn provides a console for easier management. You and other players can define rules of competitions transparently. It‘s possible to create event-specific competitions. As is standard with Amazon, there is extensive documentation for the APIs, and you can access them here.

GameOn is hosted on AWS hence, you don‘t need to get a separate MBaaS provider. Check the pricing for GameOn here. Billing is through AWS. You need to create an Amazon developer account to access GameOn.

As you can see, depending on your eSports app features, you might need to use a combination of the above options. For e.g., you might opt for Wowza GoCoder SDK and Wowza streaming cloud for the live streaming aspect, whereas, you could opt for the Abios eSports APIs for eSports schedule, statistics, etc.

Mobile backend for the eSports app

If you opt for either Wowza or Amazon GameOn options, you need not procure separate cloud hosting. However, for the other API options, you need to develop and manage your mobile backend.

Developing and managing mobile backend involves plenty of work. You need to procure and manage infrastructure. You need to manage storage, databases, and persistent storage. User management, cross-platform compatibility, security, etc. are the other key aspects that you need to manage entirely. If you have a sufficiently skilled team then you can certainly do these. However, it will take longer hence, launching of your app could get delayed.

MBaaS providers manage all these hence, you can concentrate on UX/UI design and the mobile app frontend. I recommend you engage an MBaaS provider like Google Firebase or Kinvey. Check our comparison guide “How to choose the best mobile backend as a service (MBaaS)?” for more details.

Your eSports app development team

SDKs/APIs will help you with key functions like live streaming, eSports schedules, and eSports statistics, furthermore MBaaS providers can handle the backend. This leaves you to design and develop the front-end. You also need to test. Hence, your team should comprise business analysts, UI/UX designers, iOS and Android developers, testers, and a project manager.

Your UI/UX designers should have proficiency with mobile front-end design. Our guide “Mobile navigation menu examples” can help. The testing should know popular automated testing tools. There are many such tools, for e.g., ’Silk Test‘ is a good option. The team should also be well-versed with popular DevOps tools like ’Jenkins‘.

The PM has a critical part to play in this project hence, he should know PM best practices well. Check our guide “Project management: 10 best practices”. The PM should also have high familiarity with modern PM tools. A good example of a PM tool is ’ActiveCollab‘. You might find our guide “The 10 best Agile project management tools in 2018” useful in this regard.

Finally, the team should be familiar with the process of publishing apps in app stores. Check the Android app launch checklist and the Apple App store review guidelines.

Project management approach

I recommend you use the ’Scrum’ technique since it’s tried and tested on many Agile projects. A ’Product owner’ (PO) will need to provide the requirements, i.e., the features for the app. The PM will need to act as the ’Scrum master’ and he needs to get an estimate for these features from the team.

Based on estimate and priority, a ’Sprint’, i.e., an iteration is planned with some features in it. The team has a ’Daily stand-up meeting’ to discuss the status and resolve issues. The project sponsors approve the sprint in a ’Sprint review meeting’ after checking if the features work as expected. The team conducts a ’Sprint retrospective meeting’, i.e., a lessons-learned exercise, after the sprint. Learn more in our guide “How to build a Scrum development team?”.

The cost to build an eSports app

SDK/API providers either publish their pricing information on their website or provide pricing plans upon request. MBaaS providers provide their pricing plans on their website. However, development effort depends on the complexity of the app. The local labor market will influence the manpower cost.

This is an end-to-end development project requiring a highly skilled team. You may need to get professional help hence, check our guide “How to find the best software development company?”.

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