The User Generated Nature of Gaming

After almost a year working on a video platform for gamers, today, Gamestry is undergoing its most daring change so far. We're moving away from producing and curating our content, and opening the gates to become a fully user-generated platform. One where all gaming creators can upload their content, create a community, and make a living out of their passion for games.

Before UGC

Gamestry set out to become a clear-cut video platform to discover, watch, learn, and talk about video games. One where we chased the best e-sports professionals and signed them up to produce delightful series of educational content. This content was then available behind a monthly subscription — think of a MasterClass, but specifically for gamers that wanted to level up their game.

The problem

Having the best educational experience for gamers, behind a paywall, turned out to be, at the same time, a beautiful idea, a daring product challenge, but also a terrible business model.

On one hand, our audience was mostly comprised of Gen Zs, who were struggling to justify the 9.99€ monthly price tag. And while this might sound like an excuse — since there's no such thing as an expensive product, but one that's not adding enough value nor delivering on the user's expectations — it resonated more true than ever since most of our audience were kids on their teens from low-income countries.

This turned out to be a huge deal-breaker from a business perspective since it resulted in low LTVs, which combined with rising acquisition costs, didn't justify the marketing efforts. In other words, we struggled with both retention, because our current users churned too early; and acquisition, because finding users was getting harder and harder. It felt like pushing a rock uphill all the time.

On the other, we had this huge realization — one that we had known all along but somehow neglected — that a gaming platform does not create a back catalog. Unlike Netflix or Spotify, in which each new piece of content adds more value to the subscription and gives additional reasons to the (ever more expensive to acquire) new customers to subscribe; when it comes to gaming, you're just as good as your last piece.

The industry evolves so fast, that your content expires and can be considered "out of date" the very moment is published. On top of that, it turns out that the production quality bar is not as high as we thought it would. We'd spent hours editing and perfecting each piece. Yet users didn't value the refinement level of our content.

We were optimizing for something our users didn't care about. And when it comes to gaming, a recently published raw shooting that gets to the point is far more valuable than a fine studio-quality production from five months ago.

Why UGC

Amid the pandemic, our metrics didn't look pretty and we were running out of money. A couple of months ago, if you've asked me, my most pessimistic version would have said that we'd be pretty much done in a matter of weeks. However, in an unexpected turn of events, almost out of despair, we've decided to open the doors and let all creators publish their content.

We did it for many reasons. But mainly to tackle the problems mentioned above. Becoming a user-generated platform means all the published content is (for now) free to watch. The subscription paywall stops being a stopper for our users. Letting everyone become a creator means that (hopefully) plenty of updated content will flood the website, and the scarcity and outdated pieces won't be a problem anymore.

The move, somehow, manages to address all the challenges we faced. But it has its downside as well. To begin with, our revenue just went to zero overnight, that's a pretty ugly one. We're also facing a new business model and accommodating a different set of user needs with a platform that was not optimized for that.

However, there is one more thing, something that lets me sleep tight at night. This is the fact that after speaking with tons of users, all of them shared a root desire: the dream of becoming a creator. At the end of the day, this is what we originally set out to do with Gamestry. The difference? We're now tackling the very same problem in a less structured fashion. We're taking the more straight, yet unpaved and bumpy road to becoming a creator. Wish us luck 🤞.