The gaming industry has skyrocketed in growth and popularity to reach 2.5 billion gamers globally and $135 billion in revenue generation with 10% growth in 2018. The rise of competitive gaming, mobile accessibility, and other factors are driving this massive growth.
Despite these figures, there is a looming problem within the gaming industry: social interaction. Millions of gamers around the world struggle to find other players to play with despite having interconnected platforms and portals. This problem is even more prominent in multiplayer gaming where matchmaking traditionally is a tedious task.
One startup, Plink, is on a mission to tackle this challenge by using artificial intelligence and machine learning. Vlad Korolev, CEO of Plink, who previously worked in the fintech space, teamed up with Artem Goldman, a Forbes 30 Under 30 selectee, to help solve the problem of matchmaking after experiencing the problem firsthand.
The project’s early supporters included Alexander Zoll, the founder of Blackwood games studio and once developer of an AAA shooter game called Warface. Zoll became the first investor in the project which attracted other well-known funds. Plink’s advisor Marvin Liao is a partner of 500 Startups, a leading venture capital firm.
To learn more, Korolev shared insight into the company’s vision and how they are looking to solve gaming’s matchmaking problem.
Joresa Blount: What was the inspiration behind Plink?
Vlad Korolev: I experienced firsthand the struggle of matchmaking when I was playing the Division which is a popular game. There is a special mission in the game that you can only play with the right team of friends but none of my friends had this game and I wasn’t able to find a proper match inside the game. This led to my inspiration to help build the solution. It is also important to note that in this scenario, players needed to pay an additional fee to the developer if they do not score and move on to the next level. This often did not make sense if someone did not have friends to play with, because these levels require multiplayer.
Joresa: What makes Plink different from other gaming competitors?
Vlad: Plink is specifically focused on solving the problem called LFG (“looking for gamers”). Currently, there are two ways that gamers find matches. They can go to a Discord or Reddit group like LFG Fortnite and start manually asking people to join a game. In these scenarios, the user experience is a hassle and the matchmaking process moves SLOW and is often riddled with inaccurate information.
In Plink, you can see all of the data about any user in-game achievements. So you don’t find random people of different ages, languages and in-game experiences. Matches are made in one click while giving you certain parameters about the other user. We strive to keep this as transparent a process as possible to maximize efficiency in the gaming experience.
In just a year, Plink has more than 30 integrations with the most popular games such as League of Legends, PUBG, Brawl Stars, Dota2, Overwatch, Rainbow Six, and more. We currently support matchmaking with PC, PS4, XBOX, and various mobile games. Over 15,000 gamers find a new friend in Plink daily.
Joresa: How does the social and matchmaking work function work?
Vlad: Using machine learning based on integration with the most popular multiplayer games, Plink can analyze a gamers’ data and combine it to make the most efficient match for both users or parties. These data points include when you play a game, how you play it, how successful you are, what languages you speak, and other demographic data to find someone that could be the right match.
For example, if you play Apex Legends from 6pm to 10 pm, average 1000 kills, speak English and are 32 years old, you will be matched with a person that will provide a similar level of competition as well as social interaction. This will help solve one of the biggest problems in gaming.
Joresa: What is the company’s business model?
Vlad: Simply put, we sell ads and are planning to launch Pro accounts soon. Some of our current clients include Pepsi and different mobile games.
Joresa: What are the most popular markets, and will you be expanding?
Vlad: The majority of our users are from Europe, Turkey, Brazil, and the US. We see this correlating with the most popular gaming markets based on revenue, where countries such as the US, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy are in the top 10 markets for gaming revenue.
We are also seeing a lot of interest from Asian investors and game developers as these markets are notorious for having the most gamers per capita.
Joresa: What is next for Plink?
Vlad: We are aiming to grow to 1 million daily active users by the end of next year. Plink currently has 1 million monthly active users. We want to become the Tinder for gamers, as of now there is no such leader in the space and the gaming industry continues to grow rapidly.