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SaaS for video games is an untapped market

Several days ago, I really got into FIFA Mobile. I started playing for hours, trying to build my "dream team."

In case you're not familiar, FIFA Mobile is a game where you can play soccer (duh :)) and build your team by buying/selling players.

Every time you decide to buy a player, you're faced with a tough choice: should you buy X, or get Y who is better at shooting but sucks at dribbling.

How do you decide which player to choose? I accidentally discovered a site to help me with that. It's called FifaRenderz and it allowed me to compare players, something I couldn't do with FIFA Mobile.

I decided to do a bit of research on this site and discovered that ranks in the top 25,000 websites in the world and has over 2 million monthly visitors:

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Wow.

A site like this is essentially a CRUD app which allows you to view and compare players. The founder found a way to import player stats to the app (probably using some API), added some basic comparisons and that's about it.

I wondered: Are there such sites for every popular game? So I decided to do some diggin...and boy, was I in for a surprise.

Sites like these exist for almost every popular game

FIFA, the desktop version of FIFA Mobile, has a pretty big community of third-party sites.

One of those sites is called FUTBin and it has over 73 million monthly visitors.

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Another is FutHead with over 3 million visitors. FifaFosters is yet another site with 700k visitors.

I also discovered a bunch of sites around other popular games.

DOTA - match statistics, player trackers, and more

If you go to any popular DOTA forum, you'll inevitably see someone linking to a DotaBuff match stat. DotaBuff had 6.6 million visitors in October:

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This is a site that basically allows you to see detailed match stats for a DOTA game.

Another popular site in the DOTA ecosystem is Stratz, a website where you can do heroes & players analytics. It has 1.2 million visitors.

Again, these are mostly CRUD apps that any average web developer can build.

League of Legends - find your MMR, reply management, and more.

Want to find your MatchMaking Rating in League of Legends? Use WhatIsMyMMR, a seemingly simple site which allows you to enter a player's username and get their rating. The only 'unusual' thing about this site is that it has over 1 million monthly visitors.

A smaller site is Replays, which allows you to save your game replays.

The "granddaddy" of all of these third-party sites is op.gg, which has over 60 million monthly visitors. It allows you to see stats, compare champions, do reply management, etc.

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Fortnite - stats, bots, and much more

Have you heard about Fornite Tracker It's a site that allows you to track your fornite game stats. It has 8.2 million monthly visitors.

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Another one is SeeBot, a Fornite Discord bot with over 1 million members.

These web tools are huge and players are actively using them.

What about smaller games?

I found that almost every game with 1m+ players has a set of web or (less often) desktop tools around it:

People face challenges while playing a game

In FIFA, they want to get the most bang for their buck, so they compare player stats on sites like FifaRenderz. On Battlefield, they want to make sure to get good players for their severs. And for League of Legends they want to compare their Match Rating.

This is where you come in: These tools aren't that hard to make if you're a competent technical founder. Most of them are CRUD tools with stats/analytics, etc.

The big question is...

How do you find these opportunities?

The simple answer: Play games.

Here's the thing: Each game is its own universe. The way I discovered FifaRenderz was through playing FIFA Mobile and finding a problem. I did some Googling and FifaRenderz came up.

To find the tools for the rest of the games above, I used a shortcut.

Wanna get opportunities like these every week? Subscribe below:

Reddit is your friend

The way I found most of the tools above was by using Reddit. I made a small script that scraped game communities and looked for links. Sure, many of those links led to generic game news sites, but many of them led to specific game-speficic tools that players found useful.

Using Reddit **can be a good way to narrow down on which games you want to focus on. **

For example, when looking for web tools for GTA 5, all I found were mod sites. This made me realize that gamers probably don't have goals that a web app can satisfy.

Compare this to League of Legends which has an insanely rich ecosystem of web and apps that get millions of visitors each day.

If you find an interesting third-party tool being mentioned, you can then use Google to find even more mentions. For example, Battlefield has a site called Battlefield Tracker, and if you do more research you'll find over 1000 (!!!) mentions of it on Reddit:

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The developer ecosystem around gaming is huge: And hopefully this article made you aware of that.

  1. 4

    My friend made a SaaS for video games (an online ads network for Roblox, think virtual billboards in-game) and within a year he and his cofounder were bought for ~$30 million.

    1. 1

      well done. I think this space will grow in the near future

    2. 1

      Ads in a game with 40% users under 13? That sounds like the highest risk/highest reward move I've read here. Not even Facebook deals with that.

      1. 2

        Well that's for their acquirer to worry about now 😉

        1. 2

          Talk about a hot potato. Good on your friend!

  2. 3

    I was aware of those tools, but wasn't aware how popular they are. How are they monetizing?

    1. 1

      it various...
      some use Patreon, similar to donations.
      others use ads or even offer some kind of premium subscription.

    2. 1

      Mostly Google Adsense.

  3. 2

    I have another idea, but I don't find the time to pursue it, and if it would help somebody to start a business with it, so be it.

    In the recent years, Godot, an open source game engine saw a huge rise in popularity, but what it lacks is a proper asset store like Unity's, where people can sell assets (graphics, audio, scripts, systems, etc), and without a way to monetize your work, people are not motivated to contribute with high quality assets (it has an asset library, but 90% of what is in there is either unmaintained, low quality or virtually hobby projects with no instructions, thus unusable for serious projects).

    I really wish there was a better way to just pay for some system (eg. a level management system, or leveling system, some fancy camera movement systems or a library of cool ready to use shaders) and then just integrate it into your codebase, and have it working with some minimal configuration and tweaking.

    Also, another thing that is missing, is more monetization and integrations: unity has a virtually built in game analytics system or ad system where you can earn money. That could be done too as a business for Godot developers.

    Important to note that game developers using Godot, even though they are mostly hobbists and still labeled as indies, they are ready to drop some bucks on things that will speed up their development or make their game better faster. The Steam registration per game costs 100USD alone, to not say that they are also paying freelancers (most of the time) for art or buying assets online.

    This is the market I'd go for if I would have the time (I am currently involved in other projects).

  4. 2

    My biggest worry always surfaced whenever I sought to construct anything comparable.

    Legally, I'm not sure what these websites stand for or whether they are allowed to exploit the resources, names, or data of another business or game

  5. 2

    What tool did you use the get the usage statistics for these sites? Is it all similarweb? Is it all the free version of similarweb?

  6. 2

    I think there are a couple questions worth asking:

    1. How many unpopular sites are there for each popular one you listed. ie - is it a winner take-all-market or even highly competitive?

    As someone who used to be really into games I'd often see sponsored posts/video segments pushing stat tracker apps for whatever game I was into at the time. I guess it's a good sign that there's apparently money in the space, but it also makes me think that there may be a lot more competition than an indie hacker might be able to deal with. I have no data or hard evidence to back this up, just a gut feeling I guess.

    1. Are gamers really willing/able to spend enough for this to be worthwhile? Not to beat the B2B vs B2C drum too hard but I wouldn't think they'd be big spenders. If not I guess ads or sponsorships is a viable route to monetization though.
    1. 1

      I think there's a massive amount of money rolling on esports. The first unconventional advertiser that comes to mind is Red Bull. So there is a lot of room for sponsored ads.

  7. 1

    The games sector is totally below radar among Indie Hackers.

    With explorative, digital native users who are willing to pay for software that brings them benefits, the market is really alluring.

    I'm wondering if there are ideas that don't focus on a specific game. Otherwise, as a non-gamer it's hard to bring up the motivation to dive deep into a niche. Let me know if you have any!

  8. 1

    I would love to hear about better monetization ideas for some of these other than ads that ultimately ruin the product. Premium memberships? Private, paid platforms? Sponsors instead of ads?

  9. 1

    I'm exploring new in-game marketing channels and experimenting with Microsoft Flight Simulator ✈️👨‍✈️

    I designed a livery or paint job for my Airbus A320, and flight simmers can download it for free. It has been downloaded 54 times so far.
    Instead of using traditional channels like Facebook and co., I think this could be interesting in the future 🤓

    If you want to know what the plane/paint job looks like, here it is https://flightsim.to/file/39398/gatherin-80s-synthwave-livery

    Let me know what you think.

  10. 1

    kind of reminds me when Google started in the late 1990s...
    tools and apps for search engine optimization were created, such as Ahrefs, Semrush, Moz, and Similarweb.
    Back in the 1990s, probably no one took these SEO companies seriously, and now they are massive corporations.

  11. 1

    I'm in planning stages for an even more forgotten segment of gaming, but https://skape.gg/ seems to be doing exactly this since Dec 2021.

  12. 1

    Great article, thanks

    A friend of mine is a Fortnite creator, and he used an app called GatherIn to host his 100-player Fortnite tournament.
    He tried using Google Forms but GatherIn was better for organizing a big tournament.
    I guess it's like a Calendly or Google Calendar for gamers 🤣

    For my gaming and Discord community, we started using GatherIn https://www.gatherin.app/ as well for scheduling raids and planning big game events.
    If gamers take many things so seriously, like raids, I guess they need serious solutions 😜

    So many exciting things happening in the gaming world.

  13. 1

    I've got a SaaS for collectors/enthusiasts and I agree the market is big. GGApp is another tracking SaaS and the founder is doing well, last I saw around $20k ARR. There is an open source tracking app, Playnite and at least a dozen others. A lot of my users tell me they like InfiniteBacklog too. Unfortunately for me, these are outpacing my development as they have teams so I'm not quite sure if I'll continue with what I have, pivot, or double down on collectors specifically. I'm also not actively working on it and doing solo consulting.

    I used to play a lot more games than I do now. I remember back when Destiny came out, a big pain point was finding Fireteam members. So someone made DestinyLFG (looking for group).

    One challenge is that gamers expect most stuff to be free. So it can be hard to monetize beyond advertising. I've had luck with a patreon-style membership system that I experimented with, but I'd use Stripe SDK to make it more integrated if I continue with it.

  14. 1

    Great article. Thanks Drako. I honestly had no idea there's such a huge opportunity exists around gaming stats.

  15. 1

    I remember there are also betting platforms for competitive games. Like CSGO Lounge and DOTA2 Lounge where you can use skins to bet on the outcome of a pro match. The DOTA one had 500K visits in September.

  16. 1

    This is really nice and insightful , never knew gaming communities were that popular , do you mind sharing the script that you use to find keywords doing that on Reddit , or maybe put it as a service , I think it will really be useful

  17. 1

    This makes me wonder what other SaaS opportunities exist that aren't game-specific but rather console/platform specific

    1. 1

      I'm trying to work on that!

  18. 1

    Great post! I am a Fifa player and I visit Futbin for at least 30 minutes every day. I had already thought about starting a SaaS in the area of Fifa (especially for Ultimate Team). Unfortunately, I haven't found a suitable idea yet - are there other Fifa players who are interested?

    1. 1

      I used to be addicted to FUT in its early days many years ago but stopped because... well I realized I was addicted lol

      A random idea that may be garbage: IIRC there was always hype around different underrated cards like "this card is the bronze Messi - so OP". Not sure if it exists or not but maybe some "FUT Sleepers" directory that identifies sleeper "OP" cards. Could expand it to match on chemistry system too like someone searches for Messi and it recommends sleeper cards that are any or all of a RW from Argentina in Ligue 1 etc...

      Not sure if people would pay for it because I don't know that space, but as stated elsewhere in the comments could use ads or sponsorships or similar to support it.

  19. 1

    This is so insightful. Thanks for sharing. I remember something similar is/was made for CS:GO. People trading in-game skins often looked on sites to check past sale prices, wear of the skin, etc. on these sites and then proceed to actually buying/trading it

    1. 1

      Yes, There is an opportunity in the chrome extension for CS: GO trading sites. I made one for my client (freelance project). He was selling that extension through the discord community.

  20. 1

    Thanks for sharing this @Darko, what an eye-opener. I was aware these tools existed, but I didn't appreciate just how popular they've become. I imagine popular games are already covered for these kinds of tools so breaking into those ecosystems would be a hard nut to crack. But I'm now eagerly researching games I've played in the past to see if there are any gaps that could be filled.

  21. 1

    Whenever I wanted to build something similar, my biggest concern appears.

    Legally I am not sure where these websites stand for or whether they can use another company's/game's assets/names/data

    Any idea on this? What kind of data can be used or not from such a game like these?

    1. 1

      You're not really competing with the company. If anything, these apps probably increase the longevity of the game's popularity.

      I wouldn't worry about it until after you become popular. At that point, I'm sure things will work themselves out.

  22. 1

    These tools can be hard to discover because more experienced players use them. If a game has 5M players and 20% progress towards "more experiences" then that's a significant audience.

  23. 1

    Wasn't aware such tools exist, I'm not a big gamer myself. Thanks!

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