Israeli PVPchallenge lets gamers play esports and bet on the outcomes
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From PVPchallenge's commercial, showing how esports players can win money while battling each other online. Photo credit: PVPchallenge / YouTube

From PVPchallenge's commercial, showing how esports players can win money while battling each other online. Photo credit: PVPchallenge / YouTube

Esports platform PVPchallenge encourages players to “put their money where their game is”

Gamers by their very nature are a competitive group of people. It is for this reason that console makers and game developers have focused more of their products and resources on player versus player game modes. And that competitive streak has led to the global rise of esports. The season 3 world championships of League of Legends in 2013 was viewed by 32 million people with a peak concurrent viewership of 8.5 million. The prize for that particular tournament was $1 million.

However, it hasn’t been possible for amateur players to earn cash rewards for their competitive play — until now. PVPchallenge looks to change that dynamic and gives a whole new measure of success to gamers beyond scores or digital trophies.   

A social network for more social gaming

PVPchallenge, a recently launched Israel-based social networking site, is giving gamers a whole new way to brag. The site allows its users to place challenges that other players can agree to compete on, with both competitors putting down a bet on who will be the victor. The site takes 3 percent of the winning bet. Currently the site supports select games from the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

The site is set up so that each player has their own profile, which allows them to present what systems they use, what challenges they have posted, and what their record is. Also included in the site is a ranking system, which allows players to rate competitors. This allows for players to see how other users ranked in response to challenges, and helps them determine whether or not to accept a challenge.

Once a challenge has been placed and accepted, it is up to the competitors to record the match and upload it to the website within a certain number of days. If only one player manages to upload their footage, that player is declared the winner. If there is a dispute as to who the winner is, the company decides who the winner is based on the evidence provided.

A player-based focus to gaming

Ori Koskas, PVPchallenge’s CEO, explained to Geektime that the idea behind the site came to him while working as a counterterrorism advisor after his time in the IDF. He was often on assignment in countries where there was very little to do other than watch television or play video games. Over time, he became an accomplished player. The idea came to him to make the online game more exciting, and if he could make some off of it, all the better.

The site in its current form is bare bones much like Facebook was in initial form. Each player has a profile and they can set up challenges. There is no other form of interaction between users. The lack of live streaming or fan interaction, which platforms like YouTube or Twitch provide to their users, is evident in a day and age where “let’s play videos” have come to dominate video websites. Ori has explained that features like these and others will be coming, however the company is dedicated to getting the platform and app up and running before moving on to these essential items.

The challenges facing modern gaming

This format is not without its detractions as cheating has become a part of the game for many platforms. Whether through botting or disconnecting from a server when a player is losing, there are a myriad of ways for gamers to cheat.

Koskas explained to Geektime what PVPchallenge does to prevent un-sportsman-like play. Once a dispute is opened and players have uploaded results, “Both players are requested to send proof of the game. Our team will then review this recording and determine who won. If we can’t determine, then both sides will get their money back. However if we find that somebody reported false results, his reliability ranking will go down or he may even be blocked from the platform.”

This of course is only a semi preventive measure, one which does not enforce that cheating won’t occur. To ensure that cheating is not a true issue, live streaming and professional moderation are essential.

How legal is betting on esports gaming?

Photo credit: PVPchallenge

Photo credit: PVPchallenge

The short answers is it depends. In Israel and most other countries, it is perfectly legal. In the United States, it is legal in at least 37 states to bet on “games of skill,” which PVPchallenge would fall under since gamers have more control over their winnings than betting on a slot machine, for example.

Koskas admitted to us that the legalities of launching the platform were the trickiest aspect of founding the business. To avoid any liability for users who may access the site from places where betting on esports gaming is illegal, PVPchallenge has included this statement in their terms and conditions:

You, understand and accept that we shall not in any manner or form guarantee that the use you make of the Service is legal in a particular jurisdiction and you are solely responsible for guaranteeing the legality of your actions. In the event that use of the service is not legal in your local jurisdiction, you must abstain from using it. PVP Challenge reserves the right to cooperate fully with the competent authorities in complying with the law.

The user exempts PVP Challenge and its employees of any liability (judicial or extrajudicial claim, legal damages and prejudicial consequences, expenses, etc.) related to the illegal use of this service or from any breach on its part of any of these terms and conditions of use.

Please note that several jurisdictions have considered regulating Social Gaming (such as this Application) as e-Gambling, however, to the best of PVP Challenge, there is still no binding law regarding it.

When we asked if they had considered verifying users’ IP addresses and that way, avoid the possibility that their users could be accessing the site illegally, Koskas answered, “We did think about it but we don’t want to block any users at all because we are building a social network and the betting is just the first feature and we are going to do many other features with totally different aspects.”

He did note that they are, “blocking any deposit or other money transactions from the countries and states that skill game is illegal.” This seems like a reasonable distinction.

A gamer’s viewpoint

PVPchallenge is opening up a whole new arena in gaming. For those of us not blessed with the skills that pro-gamers have, the dream of making money off of competition is a distant one. We are unlikely to be invited to big money tournaments, so it is impossible to earn spare change from our hobby.

While PVPchallenge may not have all of the essential aspects that gamers wishing to show off their skills would like in a digital combat arena, it offers the first steps to a new form of competition, one which may open up the hobby to people who might not have had an interest or the means to participate beforehand.

This is yet another advancement in gaming that proves just how exciting the field is becoming.

Laura Rosbrow-Telem contributed reporting. 

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Alex Lazear

About Alex Lazear

Alex is a geek. An avid writer, he spends his free time playing video games, catching up on the latest movie release, or messing with whatever gadget he can get his hands on.

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