It's tough to be a competitive gamer once you're an adult. Simply fitting tournament time into a busy schedule is challenge enough, but even if you can make the time, where do you go to find other adults who are competitively playing the games you love?
That's where Lowkey.gg comes in. Lowkey.gg is a tournament platform for adult gamers. The company is particularly focused on helping professional organizations set up their esports squads just like company basketball or softball teams.
One of the challenges here is that it's incredibly difficult for adult gamers to find each other. Most of them don't usually broadcast their affinity for video games. Searching for other competitive gamers who are above the age of 18 is a bit of a lost cause.
The hope for Lowkey is that they can connect adult gamers with one another to get the most out of their gaming experience. Everyone playing through Lowkey must be 18 years of age or older and have a full-time job.
Users can register as a solo gamer for $39, plus a subscription fee of $13/month, and get automatically matched with a team. Lowkey takes into account things like location, job, alma mater and other bits of information (all shown on your public Lowkey profile) to create teams with like-minded players. The company says this transparency reduces the toxicity around teammates. Conversely, users also can form a squad in real life and sign up as a pre-made team for $195/month.
Thus far, Lowkey has signed up teams from Google, Apple, Robinhood and Twitch.
Lowkey is launching with League of Legends as its first game, and Season 1 starts on January 13.
Seasons last a minimum of eight weeks, with players scheduled to play for one hour one night a week. Lowkey has also built a relatively sophisticated Discord chatbot that lets users check in to say they're ready for a game and automatically puts the teams in a chat together to coordinate the match.
Like many startups, Lowkey is actually the result of a pivot. The company was originally called Camelot.
In March of 2019, Camelot launched out of YC to allow YouTube and Twitch audiences to pay to see what they want. Users could submit bounties to see their favorite YouTuber play a game with pistols only, or to play a game while standing on a skateboard.
Turns out, there were two big issues. Co-founder Jesse Zhang explained that it wasn't sustainable to build a platform on top of a platform, particularly a platform that is incredibly top heavy and potentially overhyped.
"Sometimes hype can be misaligned with the size of the market, and it felt like streaming was one example of that," said Zhang. "Even after we organically got several really large streamers using it, and the product performed almost perfectly, the volume is still not nearly the scale that you could turn into a real business."
Which brings us to the second issue. The money that flows through Twitch from viewers to streamers is almost always based on altruism and emotion. It's exciting to hear your favorite streamer thank you for a $5 donation or gifted sub. Viewers aren't paying for the content; they're paying for a connection.
So Camelot quickly went back to the drawing board and came out on the other side as Lowkey.gg.
Lowkey has raised capital but declined to share the amount. After the launch of League of Legends, the company plans to launch seasons for other titles, including Overwatch, TFT, DotA and Smash Ultimate.