Tiltify CEO Michael Wasserman has been involved in charitable fundraising for the past decade. Four years ago at a Stiks Celebrity Video Game Challenge charity event in Hollywood that featured a THQ UFC Undisputed video game tournament with the likes of Zac Efron, Rampage Jackson, Cobi Jones, Snoop Dogg and Michael Strahan, Wasserman saw the power of video games raise $50,000 and draw over 800 guests. The growth of livestreaming the last few years has allowed Stiks Gaming to transition into Tiltify, a new platform that connects celebrities, athletes, eSports stars and YouTubers with gamers to raise money for charities.
The first gaming campaign, “Race Against Cancer,” hopes to raise $50,000 for Teen Cancer America. As an incentive for gamers to donate money to the cause, they can win the chance to play Microsoft’s Forza 5 against Indy Car drivers Josef Newgarden and Justin Wilson on August 28 with the event livestreamed on Twitch.
[a]list daily: How powerful are video games when it comes to fundraising for a good cause?
Michael Wasserman: The event we did in 2011 was not meant to be nearly as big an event as it was. We had 800 people come by. But what was interesting is that a lot of the celebrities were the last to leave. As someone who has thrown a lot of galas and traditional charity events, that doesn’t normally happen. Celebrities appreciated doing something fun and unique and they play games in their own time anyway.
[a]list daily: When did you launch Tiltify.com?
Michael Wasserman: We did a soft launch on August 2 for our Beta version. We’re looking for feedback from the gaming community. It’s a new site, so we want help from the community on what features to continue to build out.
[a]list daily:What opportunities does Tiltify open up for the burgeoning eSports community?
Michael Wasserman: This has a huge opportunity for eSports. One of our focuses has been speaking to a lot of the eSports tournament organizers and asking them to get involved in the charitable side. You can create a campaign and fundraise, but Tiltify also creates a widget that can be put on your Twitch or YouTube page so you can campaign for whatever charity you love. If you’re having a big League of Legends or Pokemon World Championship, there’s an opportunity to add additional user interaction and put the charity button on the livestream page. Twitch has a lot of space below the stream to add simple buttons and we’re talking to them about increasing the functionality of those buttons for charity.
[a]list daily: What does the fact that many eSports stars already livestream practices regularly open up for charities?
Michael Wasserman: When you look at the number of people pro gamers reach, they could generate millions of extra dollars for charities. And it doesn’t impact what they’re doing. If anything, it could enhance their fan base because it brings new people to the stream as people watch because they want to support their charity. Over 80 million people in U.S. watch eSports. Having a button where you could touch the screen and donate — and potentially have cool rewards as a gamer like the Forza 5 digital game and DLC giveaways for the “Race for Cancer” — we have that game changer.
[a]list daily: What have leaders in eSports like Riot Games said about this new platform?
Michael Wasserman: We’ve spoken with Riot and have received great support from them since February when we first started talking about what our platform could do. They offered to connect us with tournament directors and they love to help out with charity. We’re talking to them about things like integration for the viewing parties you can organize through Riot site and potentially linking to our site through that. We’re talking to everyone from Riot to Blizzard to MLG to see if we can help everyone enhance their streaming experience.
[a]list daily:What opportunities do you see for Tiltify beyond the core eSports games?
Michael Wasserman: The Forza 5 campaign is a great example. We’d been speaking with Teen Cancer America for awhile. They saw the value of what we were doing. They had two Indy Car drivers who support their cause and we reached out to Xbox and they were very supportive. Once we had Josef and Justin wanting to battle each other Microsoft came in and gave us downloadable versions of the game and the Forza 5 car pass and also got Indy Car involved. That’s not your typical eSports community like League of Legends or DOTA 2. It’s a great opportunity for fans to interact with their favorite athletes or musicians or Youtube stars or gamers. Livestreaming has opened up the ability for fans to connect with their favorite celebrities in a way TV can’t do. Indy Car fans probably have no idea what League of Legends or Twitch is, but they can go and watch these cool experiences and help a good cause. Ultimately, it could bring more people into the eSports fold.
[a]list daily: How have charities come on board?
Michael Wasserman: We have over 10 as of this interview and I expect to have about 50 by the end of the month. It only takes 15 minutes to sign up. Charities have responded to this platform because in the past gamers had to contact a charity and figure out who to talk to, which could be difficult. Our platform makes it easy with a one-click contact. Also, before Tiltify charities were wondering how their branding and logo was being used. Now when they sign up on our platform, a charity like the Able Gamers Foundation know that the logo they’ve approved gets transported into their campaign.
[a]list daily: What opportunities does this platform open up for Hollywood celebrities
Michael Wasserman: Tiltify offers an opportunity for celebrities to get involved in a low time commitment threshold. Instead of flying to a golf tournament or going to a gala, they can play from home or anywhere they’re at and raise money any time they want. Seth Rogan has his Hilarity for Charity foundation and if he wanted to raise money he could do that and play games from home, which is better than asking him to commit to being at a gala and potentially having to do something more time-consuming. We’ve had great response, especially on the athlete side. There are a number of cool campaigns coming out within the next 30 to 60 days where we’re working with athletes and musicians and celebrities that are starting to put some campaigns together.
[a]list daily: EA Sports hosts the Madden Bowl every year during the Super Bowl. How easy would it be to add a charity element to a video game tournament like that
Michael Wasserman: You can take something like the Madden Bowl and athletes can take their favorite charities and we can build out a campaign in minutes. If EA is going to stream that event, they can turn it into an instant fundraiser and get the athletes more excited about the competition. Because they’re playing for their favorite charity, it means more to them.