Refereum aims to disintermediate the game referral market with a smart contract-based bounty system for organic game promotion and achievement. This project is targeted at small-scale Twitch streamers and hobbyist gamers, who face challenges monetizing their following or skill in a crowded industry. Refereum will crowdfund development of their platform with an ICO beginning February 8 2018, raising up to $25 million.
Refereum is a referral marketing platform that rewards players for promoting online games. The project aims to redistribute game marketing budgets away from advertising agencies by empowering players and influencers to advertise directly on platforms such as Twitch and Youtube. Game developers and promoters can do this by buying the protocol token RFR and offering bounties for promotion and game achievement, which are completed by influencers and developers. The bounty rewards in RFR are distributed via smart contract. The platform will integrate with Twitch, the leading live streaming video service for video games in the US, and Unity, the world’s largest game engine, as foundational components to their ecosystem.
In the Refereum ecosystem, there are ostensibly three categories of users:
- Developers purchase RFR through external exchanges. After adding the Refereum Unity plugin to their game, they offer various bounties of RFR for influencer tasks and in-game player achievements.
- Influencers earn RFR through bounties when auditable events take place, such as when new players sign up using referral codes connected to the influencer’s Twitch and YouTube channels. They can sell the RFR to generate income.
- Players earn RFR by completing bounties, such as in-game achievements. They can also sell the RFR to generate income, or use it to purchase in-game items.
An interesting implication of the Refereum ecosystem design is that it highlights the imperfect distinction between game influencers and players in the online gaming industry. An individual could complete both types of task at once, such as winning an esports tournament while promoting game downloads with a referral link. A streamer’s success is based on more than just the skill they demonstrate within a particular game; viewers are drawn to entertaining streamers with dynamic personalities regardless of their skill level. The Refereum platform enables users to earn money either by promoting a game or by being good at it. This approach could prove particularly valuable for small-audience streamers or hobbyist gamers who aren’t able to obtain a big promotion contract or win a major esports tournament. Marketing and game achievement rewards could be distributed to many smaller players, instead of being retained by the few at the top.
What is the Token Being Sold?
The Refereum platform token, RFR, is an ERC20 token that functions as a payment rail within the platform. Developers purchase RFR (for fiat or crypto) and offer it as a reward for promotion and game achievement. Influencers earn RFR by completing bounties and promoting games through Twitch, Youtube, etc. Gamers also earn RFR by completing bounties, and can use it to buy in-game items. The RFR token economy is designed to be balanced, with key groups exerting both buy and sell side pressures.
The token will be distributed through a crowdsale beginning February 8, 2018, which will raise up to $25 million. A token sale reaching the hard cap would imply a network valuation of $50 million, with no new tokens to be created. The total supply is 5 billion RFR, of which 50% will be offered in the token sale, 20% reserved for the team, 20% reserved for the platform, and 10% for growth incentives.
What is the Project Status?
Refereum is incorporated as a Delaware C-corporation, and is headquartered in San Francisco.
The current MVP is a demo Refereum marketplace, where users can earn testnet tokens for various tasks such as connecting Twitch or Discord accounts, watching streams, or referring others to the platform. These tokens can currently be redeemed for game download codes through Steam, using Ethereum’s ICAP system to track transactions. The marketplace uses MetaMask for wallet integration.
Funds raised through the token sale will be used primarily for product development and marketing. The project’s major objectives following the token sale are to add functionality to the earn.refereum.com marketplace and to integrate a Twitch API with Unity asset store tools. A key milestone will be the release of a simple Software Development Kit (SDK) that individual games can use to integrate Refereum into their system. The whitepaper mentions a potential partnership with ConnectX to offer users the ability to buy RFR with a credit card. Tokens will also be available on popular crypto exchanges.
Who is the Competition?
Broadly, the gaming industry has been a popular area for blockchain-based projects in 2017. Projects such as Wax, EnjinCoin, and MobileGo have raised significant amounts through token sales, although these projects focus on other aspects such as virtual marketplaces and inter-game payment systems. Refereum appears to be the first blockchain-based project to specifically address the industry’s marketing inefficiencies.
Refereum’s core value proposition identifies a major cost inefficiency within the gaming market. Traditional marketing avenues such as Facebook ads are costly and ineffective. Game developers have turned part of their marketing budget to influential Twitch or Youtube streamers, but this is an inefficient process where they must negotiate individual deals. Indeed, talent management companies have sprung up to manage this process, adding another layer of transaction fees to the system. These deals typically involve the influencers playing the game on stream and encouraging viewers to join through a referral link. While small-scale streamers will benefit from using Refereum to monetize their content in the first place, established streamers can monetize more efficiently than previously possible through the elimination of agency fees and by establishing a direct relationship to their fans. Beyond this elimination of middleman fees, Refereum incentivizes deeper user engagement. Instead of paying the influencer per download or purchase of the game through their referral link, the developers can set achievement goals (i.e complete the first level) that measure player engagement in a more meaningful way.
Who is the team Behind the Project?
The Refereum project has an impressive team, combining backgrounds in online gaming, business development, and smart contract design. The founder Dylan Jones previously consulted for Unity and founded the game developer co-working space Gamenest. The CTO Alistair Doulin has over 15 years of experience as a game developer and director of game development companies. Oleksii Matiiasevych, the whitehat who returned $1.4 million in the July Parity multisig exploit, is responsible for Refereum’s smart contracts.
Beyond its strong team, Refereum has received public support from Twitch, Unity, and Ambisafe. Twitch is the leading live streaming video service for video games in the US with over 15 million daily users, and was purchased by Amazon in 2014 for $1.1 billion. Unity is the world’s largest game engine, powering major titles such as Pokemon GO, Angry Birds, and Hearthstone. Refereum is directly advised by Ian Dunlap, who manages the Unity Asset Store. The project roadmap involves full integration with both of these major industry players. Ambisafe is an Ethereum asset platform, ICO design, and smart contract development firm.
|Incorporation status||Delaware C-Corporation|
|Team openness||Fully transparent|
|Blockchain Developer||Dylan Jones and Oleksii Matiiasevych|
|Technical White Paper||Non-technical whitepaper available|
|Available Project Code||Yes|
|Role of token||Payment|
|Token supply||5 billion RFR|
|Distributed in ICO||2.5 billion RFR|
|Emission rate||No new coins created|
|Consensus method||Proof of Work|
|Sale period||February 8 – March 8, 2018|
|First price||1 RFR : $0.01 USD|
|Accepted currencies||ETH, BTC|
|Investment Round||First public offering|
|Token distribution date||Unknown|
|Min investment goal||$1 million|
|Max investment cap||$25 million|
|How are funds held||Unknown|
|Minimal Viable Product||Yes|
|Bonus schedule||No Bonus|