Rockstar cofounder Jamie King joins Leap as adviser
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Leap is a next-generation sports-discovery and endorsement platform. And today the company said it has appointed Rockstar Games cofounder Jamie King to serve as an advisory board member.
As an official member of the advisory board, King will leverage his experience and expertise in the gaming industry and product development to support Leap’s upcoming platform launch, grow Leap’s global community, and serve as spokesperson and evangelist for the company.
This isn’t our usual kind of story. But it’s interesting to see how King’s expertise in games can be useful outside of gaming. Leap plans to use blockchain’s decentralization to democratize sports and how athletes get noticed. It has created a gamified experience where athletes can compete for attention.
“I’m just proud to be advising a venture that really wants to do good and give a leg up to all the kids around the world, especially those kids who are don’t necessarily have the same opportunities we have here in a country like America,” King said.
The mobile gaming industry’s meteoric rise in recent years culminated in 2021 with the generation of $93.2 billion, more than both the recorded music and box office industries combined. To keep the growth going, folks like King think we need blockchain and Web3 ecosystem.
Conversely, Web 3 companies looking to shake things up could benefit from the expertise of gaming industry veterans. By recruiting King, the company will benefit from his experience and knowledge from gaming and provide insights for Leap as it gets ready for a launch.
At Rockstar, King worked on a wide range of early titles, including Grand Theft Auto and other popular games. He served as vice president of development, responsible for recruiting and managing the core team of engineers.
Starting in 2018, King served as head of esports for Engine Shop, where he worked with major clients such as the MLB, MLS, NHL, Anheser Bush, Twitch, and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. During his time at Engine Shop, King won a couple of Tempest esports awards, three Chief Marketer Pro Awards, a 34th Sports Emmy nomination, and a Silver Clio for Bud Light’s BL6 gaming console.
As for the type of advice, King said, “I’ve spent a lot of time worrying about the concepts of gamification, gameplay mechanics, user experience, onboarding, retaining people, especially over mobile apps. And so I can impart advice about that and use my relationships across the sporting community.”
He said that Rockstar spent a lot of time thinking about core loops for game mechanics, the things in games that create engagement. Rockstar also understood cultures and subcultures and what drives them.
He noted how modern sports fans and athletes are communicating in different ways over short-form video, such as TikTok. Those videos have become the way that athletes market themselves to scouts and recruiters.
King currently works as the vice president of marketing for Solace Lifesciences, where he’s part of the team responsible for NuCalm, the clinically proven neuro-acoustic technology that reduces stress and improves sleep without the need for drugs.
Through Leap, youth athletes get to showcase their skill sets in short-form videos uploaded to the platform. By specifically working with young athletes from impoverished and isolated communities, Leap brings together a digital community of both youth sports talent and talent seekers to help the athletes, not only gain recognition, but also get rewarded based on their skill levels and continuous engagement in sport activities.
The app features a customized video creator — Leap Studio — with specific filters, sticks, and add-ons to help talents better highlight their individual skills based on their sport. Talents can use the videos to challenge each other in Leap Dare Battles, where the community votes for whoever they think performed the skill better, and winning will boost the value and rarity of the users NFT Player Card.
“A gaming maverick of the likes of Jamie King will help LEAP not only grow our community, but also really pushes forward the integration of sports and gaming in a Web3.0 environment,” said Omri Lachman, CEO of Leap, in a statement. “We are beyond thrilled to have Jamie on our team as an advisor and we have no doubt that he will do a tremendous job representing LEAP, building credibility and bringing our product closer to the people who can benefit the most from it.”
King said Leap’s product is innovative and corrects a major blindspot in the sports industry, which is the lack of growth opportunities for athletes from isolated and disadvantage communities. King thinks Leap can democratize sports.
Leap is helping young athletes create videos, but in a decentralized manner.
“We focus on showcasing their endeavours in the real world and their physical athletic abilities,” he said. “They marketing themselves on social media.”
King met Lachman and hit it off because of his passion for sports.
“Leap is embracing the future, which is one of the reasons why it piqued my interest,” King said. “I really like the idea that it’s a sports discovery and monetization platform for Web 3.”
He noted that kids around the world don’t have the same opportunities. They don’t have a chance to showcase their talent in a focused and safe and affordable place. King has kids of his own and so he is steeped in the sporting life.
“I like the concept of giving back, and helping the younger generations, and then combined with my love sports, everything coalesced together,” King said. “I also had an eye on the blockchain and Web3. With the metaverse, it’s super early days. I just believe fundamentally it’s the future.”
King recognizes the resistance to blockchain and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and it reminds him of the resistance to free-to-play models in mobile games a decade ago. Rockstar had to adapt to that and it eventually did that well with Grand Theft Auto Online, King said. Free-to-play helped democratize the player base to those with mobile phones but no consoles.
“I do think it’s early days and it’s a bit of the Wild West,” he said.
As for gaming itself, King said it’s a lot harder now, when it comes to making triple-A games. You can work for years on a title and still have it come out buggy. He likes the increasing diversity of games, the concept of Xbox Game Pass, but he isn’t glad the same names dominate the industry.
“I love the relationships that I now make that are totally online,” he said. “I do love always like the health of the indie game scene. Unfortunately, you are aware of the toxicity.”
But he is encouraged to see more variety of people playing, including women and girls.
“Sport is going to be transformed. Who would have thought that NBA Top Shot would have been an early success?” he said. “Esports is absolutely going to be a part of the sporting future.”
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