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Community Gaming (CG), a platform which facilitates esports tournament prize payouts in cryptocurrency, has closed a $16 million Series A funding round led by Japanese investment firm Softbank. Other investors include crypto-focused companies Animoca Ventures, Binance Labs, ConsenSys Mesh, and Polygon Studios, to name a few.
CG’s website—which currently has over 100,000 unique registered users—allows esports organizations or play-to-earn blockchain gaming guilds to list their upcoming tournaments and registration details. The site then facilitates immediate, automatic payouts for said tournaments in USDC stablecoin, other cryptocurrencies, or the native token of the guild or blockchain game.
CEO Chris Gonsalves told Decrypt in an interview that Community Gaming is a way to fix problems he sees with the esports payouts experience.
“In the esports and traditional competitive gaming world… one of the biggest pain points was around payments, players having to be paid out through PayPal…it could take days or weeks, and came along with a lot of high fees and friction," Gonsalves said. "So for us, we want to abstract away all the complexities that are associated with Web3 solutions and bring them a competition platform that does automated payouts.”
Gonsalves’ platform is “chain agnostic” but currently supports the Ethereum mainnet, Polygon and BNB blockchains for payouts. Support for the Solana blockchain is also in the works, along with the ability to allow tournament organizers to pay winners with NFTs.
CG currently has no platform fees, but plans to take a 5% fee from the total prize pool for each tournament in the future. Gonsalves emphasized that he wants the user experience to be as free as possible, offering free meta transactions on the site and no payout transaction fees for winners. CG has also paid out over $100,000 in micro-grants to competition organizers to help grow the esports space in low-income communities.
So far, Community Gaming’s main focus has been on Web2 games, but more and more Web3 games and esports guilds have been launching tournaments through its site.
“Web2 games are our bread and butter,” Gonsalves said, listing "Call of Duty: Mobile," "Hearthstone," and "League of Legends" as examples. He believes that the Web3 space doesn't "have enough high-quality games” to entice the Web2 gaming community just yet. But in the future, Gonsalves believes that will change.
In addition to offering a payout system for esports tournaments, Gonsalves said CG can help esports organizers get their competitions more exposure through forging connections with livestreaming gaming site Twitch and getting tournaments on Twitch’s coveted homepage, which currently sees 1.2 billion monthly visitors.
Since its inception, CG has evolved from live events to a combination of online and physical support for esports tournaments. Going forward, Gonsalves believes the North American gaming market will continue to be CG’s main focus, but Latin America is another major region of interest.
Softbank investment leader Benjamin Lizana shared that sentiment, adding in a statement that there are “strong tailwinds for the crypto gaming infrastructure space globally.” He said he is “excited by the pace at which it has gained traction in Latin America.”