Esports fans comparison shopping for often very expensive “skins” – accessories for their online personas and weapons – may find it easier early next year when OPSkins launches its inter-company skins index, titled the Worldwide Asset eXchange (WAX).
WAX will use its own cyber currency WAX tokens in a business model designed to simplify purchases for gamers from different countries and give the booming skins market a more harmonised perspective on the value of individual accessories through the use of a digital-ledger system similar to the cryptocurrency bitcoin.
Currently eSports gamers struggle to find the best value and choice because there is no centralised database in the lucrative and busy market, a situation that the two-year-old OPSkins hopes to remedy with a convenient alternative.
The market likes the idea, attracted by the 200,000 buyers who visit OPSkins every month and the company's concept of locating products globally at the right price and making it possible for fans to buy them faster and simpler. In a market that consists of an estimated 125 million regular eSports and video gaming players around the planet, it's easy to see why the skins business is booming.
The company's recent float of a WAX token-based ICO raised $41 million, and chief information officer Malcolm CasSelle says that OPSkins revenue is growing by double digits annually. The company is planning to raise a further $7 million by the time it closes its ICO on November 28.
Over the past few months, rivals including DMarket, KyberNetwork, and SkinCoin have held ICOs to launch or expand their services. So far, though, no other trader has the muscle to create the kind of inter-company exchange that OPSkins is building. Starting next year, websites that install the WAX widget will get as-yet-undetermined fees for resulting sales.
Observers say that the biggest risk facing OPSkins may be the attitude adopted by the major game developers, whose products provide the online stage and scenarios in which players use their weapons and accoutrements. Probably the biggest of these is Valve, which publishes Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and other popular games favoured by fans. The company could use its dominant position to ban sites from trading skins and used its clout last year to halt gambling that used skins as collateral for transactions (see previous reports).