We 💙 Supporting Creators with Nexus | The Gamesight Podcast

We 💙 Supporting Creators with Nexus | The Gamesight Podcast

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Yane An: Welcome to the podcast. We have here with us, Justin Sacks, CEO of Nexus. How are you doing today?

Justin Sacks: I am great. I am excited to be here, so thanks for having me.

Yane An: Yeah, thanks for joining us. Here we got a, we got a fun little quote you once said: yesterday's astronauts are tomorrow's YouTubers.

Justin Sacks: That was more contrarian, you know, five years ago, and it's probably more obvious now, but it's basically just like if you were gonna pull any room of elementary, middle school or even high school kids, and you said, what do you wanna be when you grow up? The most common answer is going to be a YouTuber, or now it might be a streamer, but like 30 years ago it would've been an astronaut or the president or something like that.

And then really, like, that's a jumping off point. Well, what does that mean for society? Is that a good thing? Is that a bad thing? How should we be building stuff and so really mostly the reason I like to think about that and bring that up is I think there was conversation a few years ago around the intersection between gaming and pop culture or specifically like gaming influencers and pop culture.

But I think that shouldn't even be the question now, cause really like gaming influencers are pop culture; they are the celebrities of today. And so it is intuitive to me that that's what, that's who people aspire to be like and what they wanna grow up to be. I also think it's a good thing, and that, that can take us in a tangent of like, you know, this is super long term, but I think the most common occupation in the future will be creators.

People that build an audience around themselves, either cause of aptitude or attitude.

Yane An: Yeah. So that's definitely true. I definitely think if you talk to a bunch of kids, they'll wanna be influencers, right?

That goes into like, ethics of media or like, the responsibility of like influencers and how they influence children, but we don't need, we don't need to go to all that.

Justin Sacks: Sure. Sure.

Yane An: Yeah. So, yeah. Tell me more about your experience with the creator economy.

And actually maybe we can even start with how did you come up with the idea for Nexus? You probably saw like a need, right? And then you started developing this idea.

Justin Sacks: Sort of, yeah, I think, I've really only ever done one thing my entire life. And it's kind of just the same thing over and over and figuring out how to make my own challenges and problems and like solve the right things for them. So my background is helpful into like how we came to this specific product.

So my whole professional career, I've been in the games industry. I got started as a pro gamer 16 years ago before eSports was even a word. And then I was a content creator myself, but back in those days, that went like literally writing blogs, which isn't even a word people use anymore, making videos back when there were MCNs and then I did streaming, but I streamed before Twitch was a thing on a platform

Yane An: called, Justin.TV or OWN3D?

Justin Sacks: Before Justin.Tv, it was called xFi and it was

Yane An: xFi.

Justin Sacks: Yeah. Yeah. So this is a while ago. It's interesting though to see some of the creators back then are still around today. So like the number one streamer xFi was Sodapoppin and he's still doing his thing

Yane An: He's doing great. Yeah.

Justin Sacks: –today. So that was my world. And then I built a little coaching website for League of Legends when I was at school.

And then I ended up joining a media company in the games industry. After that, they were called Curse and they owned and operated a bunch of different websites and communities and tools. All for the industry, really focused on PC games. I joined them when they were pretty small. Curse ended up growing to a few hundred folks and they were acquired by Twitch and Amazon in 2016.

I ran biz dev for the media side and then during that acquisition is when I left to start Nexus and really like the thesis, which has remained true. history of our company, even though the product has changed, it's just that discovery has fundamentally shifted in the industry, how players learn about games, get excited about games, decide to buy them or play them, or engage with them and then stick with them.

That has changed, and I can get in the whole spiel of what it's been throughout history, but really today driven by the personalities that people follow. So your favorite streamers or YouTubers or the Discord servers you're a part of. But there's a real big challenge around attribution for publishers.

Like how do they know who drove value for them? How do they work with all those individual personalities, influencers, creators? And then if you are a creator, there's a real big problem around credit and monetization, like how do you get what you deserve for driving all that value? And so Nexus is really the infrastructure that sits between the influencer and the game publisher. We try our best to align the incentives between both.

So we like to say that we're a creator program in a box. I'll explain like what that is, but super high level. If you're familiar with Fortnite's wonderful, Support-A-Creator program. We build that for all the games that aren't Fortnite. And so we help awesome live service game publishers, handle onboarding for our creator programs, handle dashboarding, and then Nexus also supports with payouts and taxes and all that sort of stuff.

And so we've built a bunch of product along the way. But the vision for Nexus and what we do today, a lot of it is seeing what are the different pieces that have worked the best for creators so far that publishers found value in.

And then how can we enhance those and make them more readily available for both sides? And so, like I said, we saw Epic do such a great job with their Support-a-Creator that really drove the zeitgeist to Fortnite. And we're like, okay, every game should be able to have this. Can we help support that?

Yane An: That's true. Yeah. Fortnite definitely like completely blew up people's careers, right? Overnight or not overnight. Over multiple seasons. Yeah, but that makes a lot of sense with your background too. I actually grew up playing a lot of League of Legends, so big fan of Curse.

You're like, oh, from like a humble small company called Curse.

You might know it. And it's like, yes, we know Curse. Yeah.

Justin Sacks: Curse is interesting cause you can find old alumni at so many different companies. Curse ended up being bought by Twitch and then being sold to Fandom and then a part of it sold to Overwolf.

And so like people got spread out everywhere. So there's folks, old Curse team members, kind of everywhere you look, even though we were never that big of a company.

Yane An: It's kind of beautiful because you guys started out as like the original blueprint creators, right? Like you said, like before eSports was even a word, and now you guys are creating this infrastructure for creators in the future. It's beautiful. Yeah.

So obviously we know now that the creator economy is like the standard, right? In 2023. If you wanna grow your games, you have to pay attention to your community, support your community, especially since most games now are like games as a service, right? It's like an ongoing developing product.

Do you wanna tell everybody a little bit about our integration together, like how Gamesight and Nexus work together?

Justin Sacks: Sure. Yeah. So I met Adam, the CEO of Gamesight, god, maybe half a decade ago.

Yane An: Oh my.

Justin Sacks: Which makes both of us sound old, which he is. And we've been good friends ever since. He solves a really, really, really important need in the industry through you guys with Gamesight, which is like the attribution layer, and then also helping out on the marketing side of things.

And then Nexus, we do a totally different part, but is really synergistic with what you guys are all about, which I mentioned, which is some of the dashboarding and some of the monetization and the commerce that influencers can drive.

One of the things that we do together is we partner for a game publisher called Capcom, and then we have a couple other partners that are either in the works or about to be announced.

I guess like to dive into some of the specifics of what that partnership is, I think Capcom is a good example, which is you guys support them on all the things of prospecting who are the influencers and content creators that are a good fit, managing the relationship with them, helping out with the marketing, attribution, tech, all that sort of stuff.

And then really what Nexus does is we provide the commerce layer. So with Capcom specifically, any creator in the Capcom Creator program can, through Nexus, build their own store where they can feature Capcom products like the latest Street fighter title or Monster Hunter or Resident Evil or whatever it might be.

And then that creator's audience can go to their store, buy those games, those DLCs, whatever it is, and then support the creator at the same time. The whole point of Nexus is to align the incentives between the creator and the publisher so that whenever the creator is benefiting so is the publisher and when the publisher's benefiting, so is the creator.

So like that'swhat Nexus is all about. And then Gamesight really accelerates all that because you guys help make sure the right creators are a good fit, that they're aware of the program, they're participating in it, they're excited about it, they have the right messaging, all that sort of stuff.

Yane An: Yeah, I love that. And we actually just hit a year anniversary for Capcom Creators a while ago. So that's pretty exciting.

Justin Sacks: It's a good example too, because it's going really well. I think creators are a power law business, just like how gaming broadly is, meaning, you know, a small percentage of creators are a large percentage of the total audience in watch hours. But one of the things I think that's been really successful with the Capcom Creator program is justthe diversity of creators that have found success within it, that have either grown within the program, been discovered through the program or through some of the perks.I'm pretty proud of the partnership there.

Yane An: Yeah. Amazing stuff. I love it because it builds a community, but it also like standardizes the professional process. Right. Which is cool. Influencers are small business owners, so that's great.

I also saw you guys worked with like Town of Salem and Bloons TD, and now you guys are also in VR right? With Big Ballers.

Justin Sacks: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's our first VR title.

Yane An: Exciting stuff.

Justin Sacks: Yeah, it's been a discovery internally within our company as well as like who are the publishers that we can be immediately most valuable to. And those are definitely live service games. And they're really live service games that already have both a player community, but also a creator community that adding this creator program, this revenue share perk just immediately drives real value for them.

And so, those are some of our wonderful, wonderful partners. So like Bloons Tower Defense, it's been around for a long time. It's made by an incredible studio called Ninja Kiwi based outc of New Zealand. It's been a little more than six months.

And it's been both from my perspective and from the publisher's perspective, like enormously successful, and the creators too. For the creators that love that game Bloons is one of their main titles. Now they have a way to make money when their audience stays engaged with the game, buys new stuff in the game.

Like, that's pretty awesome. We just did an activation this week where you can get an exclusive avatar in the game when you support your favorite creator.


Yane An: I saw that! That was you guys?

Justin Sacks: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm proud of that, I love that. It'sa win-win-win because it's awesome for the player.

They get something special. It's great for the creator because they have a really easy message to their audience and now they get, you know, additional income. And it's great for the publisher too because we've seen the more players supporting creators in your game the significantly, like significantly more positive impact you have on player behavior, on downstream player behavior. Like when a player starts supporting a creator, they stay more engaged with the game. They play the game more, they buy more stuff, they churn less. All of the metrics you want to go up. And so running those sort of activations is really great.

Town of Salem is neat becausethey're an indie team, they're a small team. Some of cthem are actually based in Austin where I'm from which is fun. And so like they couldn't build the infrastructure of having their own creator program would be prohibitively expensive. Like, how are you gonna handle financial payouts to dozens or hundreds of creators every month?

How are you gonna handle taxes at the end of the year? You know, building out those dashboards and those infrastructure isreally tough for a small team. So being able to support them was really awesome. And the, the Big Ballers VR is really cool. It's our first VR title and their creator audience is mostly TikTok.

And so that was kinda like a different learning for us, because usually our big creator platforms have been Twitch and YouTube. And so figuring out, well, what is different for the TikTok world was kind of like a fun learning and like building out some of the different integrations and that sort of stuff.

Yane An: Yeah. Have you actually found it is really a really different process for TikTok Gaming and TikTok creators.

Justin Sacks: There's not too much different for Nexus's part of everything. But I will say the platforms generally do have really different capabilities and values and strengths and weaknesses. YouTube is the best platform for conversion of getting someone to take an action. And it's because it's like built into being a VOD platform where you can pause the video, you can go do the thing that they're talking about, and you can come back and you don't miss any content.

And the message the creator gives to their audience is the same; every single viewer will get the same message versus on Twitch, they're really powerful for awareness, but They're less strong at conversion because when you're watching a Twitch stream, in order for you to go take the action they're talking about, you'd have to go interrupt your own content.

You'd have to interrupt your own experience in order to do it. And the messaging is ephemeral, meaning let's say the streamer talks about a thing in the first 15 minutes of their stream, but you come in on the 30th minute, you might not see it, and maybe they talk about it again three hours later, but then you leave before that happens.

You don't even know that that message happened. And then TikTok, of course, like the short form video has its own like unique stuff to it. I think it's important just to like, recognize the differences. And neither of them is better or worse than the other. It's just they're different in different ways.

And that's part of what we're learning too, is when we work with a publisher, we want to be able to support them as much as possible and offer best practices and help them to have a successful creator program and so it's important for us to really get those nuances as well.

Yane An: For sure. Yeah, I know for TikTok the engagement tends to be really low, even if the exposure is really high, right? Like people are just swiping, but you definitely get more eyes on the product.

Justin Sacks: Attribution is tough with TikTok because once you see a product four times in TikTok, when you're scrolling for 10 minutes, you're like, okay, I'm gonna go check out that thing. But for any individual thing that you see, you're probably not gonna make a specific action.

Yane An: Yeah, definitely. When I scroll through TikTok after an hour, I'm like, I don't remember anything I saw.

Justin Sacks: An hour of TikTok? I don't know. That

Yane An: True.

Justin Sacks: That seems like a lot.

Yane An: Yeah. You know, I'm really disciplined with my TikTok use. Ha

Justin Sacks: Yeah. Research, huh? Okay.

Yane An: Yeah. Research. Exactly. Yeah.

I'm sure you have a ton of experience at this point, working with a bunch of different creators, so I wonder if you could tell me more about the best practices and recommendations.

Justin Sacks: So it depends on the game which kind of like the not helpful cop-out answer. You can basically try out the program in the first month, and then you'll see the impact that it has on player behavior is so significant. The recommendation we give is to share as much revenue as possible with a that basically they're driving pure incremental sales and users for the publisher.

They're bringing in folks that you wouldn't reach otherwise, they're driving purchases. That wouldn't have happened otherwise. That you want to really be sharing as much as you can with a creator because the benefit is like two plus two equals five. The more that you share with a creator, the better an outcome you're gonna get for your game.

And so high level, that's how we start recommending publishers to think about it. But a lot of the times they are concerned about cannibalization of, Hey, what if a player was gonna buy this thing anyways, but now we have share 15% with a content creator… we're just losing 15% of our money.

And so we have so much data to show that's not true. fact, not only are the creators driving you purchasers and players that wouldn't have came in any other fashion. But when a player buys something and supports their creator, they become a better player. Like that feedback loop is so important and it emboldens them into the community that they stick around longer, they play more games.

They're gonna buy more things. They're the sort of player that you want in your game. And so you essentially, you want as many players as possible interacting with your creator program. So that avatar that we did within Bloons, those are powerful for reasons that might be a little bit unexpected.

So doing something where like, when a player supports a creator, they get a discount or they get additional currency, or they get some exclusive SKU, doesn't drive sales only because it's an interesting offer on its own. Like, yes, having a discount gets people to buy something normally that'snormal economics.

But really, the value is that it, it gives a really, really easy message to the creator, because now instead of them saying to their audience: “Hey, use my creator code, it supports me,” they get to say: “Hey, here's this new piece in the game that actually will help you, and the only way you can get it is by using a creator code.”

And so it, it turns the message from like, Hey, I'm asking you for something into, Hey, I'm giving you something their audience. Creators are way more comfortable doing that, of course. so that's why we recommend doing any of those activations. And some of the powerful ones are ones that are really easy for the publisher, which is things like, If you have an asset in your game that you haven't found a good use for, make it a creator exclusive SKU where the only people that can buy it are can buy it when they're supporting creators or like they get some special title or they get something that's really easy to generate that provides so much value for, for your creator community as well as your player community that we recommend doing those sort of activations.

We also do a bunch of stuff to make the messaging really easy for a creator. We'll create, you know, like, assets that they can put in their Twitch panel or in their YouTube header or in a chat bot that they can use that sort of stuff.

Whatever we can do to make the messaging easier for the creator is generally valuable. And then I guess the last piece is the tighter the feedback loop is, the more successful the program will be., which means like the feedback loop both for the player and the creator. For the creator, it's when they drive someone in their audience to go buy something, they know immediately that that happened.

That's really valuable. The tighter the loop is of the creator doing an action and then getting a reward, the better the program will be. But also for the player's side, we've seen be really helpful is when a player is supporting a creator, they get an immediate thank you message that feels personalized from the creator.

That's awesome. If it actually is personalized from the creator, that's incredibly awesome. And then you can do like integrations with their alert technology. So when a player buys a battle pass and game and it supports the creator and it shows up on stream, and then the streamer can say, oh, thanks for buying the battle pass.

Like that's.

Yane An: Amazing. Yeah.

Justin Sacks: It's a great easy message for the creator. The player feels really great, and then other players are like: “Oh, I didn't know this thing exists. Now I can do it,” And at the end of the day, the publisher is getting so much value from doing that.

Yane An: Amazing. And then you said you guys have a ton of data to prove that this is, this feedback loop works. Right? Can you tell me a little bit more about that?

Justin Sacks: Sure. Yeah. So we've done a couple of case studies with our partners. I've anonymized them, so I can't tell you who the specific games are, but I'm happy to share the data. Two things are important. One, this, all of the data I'm about to share in the insights comes from the publisher. So it's not us slicing and dicing any of the data or choosing specific cohorts.

And then two, for all the data I'm about to reference. None of this had any activations going. So there was no exclusive avatar that you could get. There wasn't a discount. It was players buying stuff in game using a creator code.

At the same cost, at the same price, at the same time that have bought without using creator code. All right, so the first app in one of our games and probably the biggest number that we're most proud of, 40% of players that used a creator code to make a purchase had never bought anything in that game before.

either. The creator acquired that new player for the game, or that player was already playing, but they were just a pure free to play player. now they started buying stuff inside of the game because the creator made that call to action and that. So that's usually called conversion, which is like converting a free player into a paid player.

And the average conversion rate for a successful live service game is like 1.8%. It's like a really number. So we're really proud to be in order of magnitude higher than that, and that's across tens of thousands of transactions and,

Yane An: That's crazy. 40%. That's like almost half.

Justin Sacks: this next number is also great; 15% of players that use their creator code to buy something had churned out of the game. So they used to be playing the game. They used to be spending, they hadn't bought anything in 60 days and the first purchase back used the creator code, which means the creator got that person to come back into the game. And that's like a really valuable thing for these live service games is when someone turns out, how do you actually get them back?

And creators are one of the best ways to do that. Some of the other data, so like on retention data, we measured everything from D7 to D180. So like how long did a player actually stick around in that game? After starting and in every single cohort that we measured players were twice as likely or about twice as many players stuck around if they were interacting with a creator program versus otherwise.

And like the best one, a big question publishers have is around cannibalization. Even after you pay out a creator, the LTV of a player is twice as high as the average player if they're interacting with a creator program. So like even after all the costs and fees of doing a creator program, it's the most valuable.

It's the best ROAS you can have for for a game publisher.

Yane An: Wow. I mean, I'm sold.

Justin Sacks: Yeah. Thank you. Thank you. There are games that it doesn't work great for. There's like reasons why it's not the perfect solution, but like for the things that we work well with, there is no better product.

Yane An: Mm-hmm. Yeah. I mean the games that you guys are partnering with already have like these passionate communities, right?

Justin Sacks: We're gonna do our best for newly launched games, but like Town of Salem too is a good example. And then the game we're partnering on that we haven't announced yet is another good example where it's a sequel, meaning. There's already a community of players that played the game.

There's already a community of creators that are knowledgeable and aware of it, and so putting a creator program in it, it's as if the game has been out for a while but like totally newly launched games, they should work with a Gamesight to acquire content creators. Nexus is not the best like creator acquisition platform, but we are absolutely the best creator retention platform.

Yane An: For sure. Amazing. Solid pitch. Yeah.

But I know Twitch is implementing a lot of changes. I'm sure you, you've been following everything in terms of like, like, oh, ads can only be like 3% of the screen, and you're not allowed to do like Instream video sponsor shout outs.

How are you guys like adjusting to that or has that affected your platform at all?

Justin Sacks: A lot of that is still in flux. You know, there is. A significant community response to the announcement. And so Twitch is kind of figuring out what is the right policy and plans moving forward. And so you know, we're not gonna change anything until a lot of that is more set. But we've built Nexus to be very intentionally platform agnostic, so we're happy to support creators wherever their audience are.

We partner with creators at the most organic and natural point, which is them literally commercializing the products that they love. The creators that find the most value with Nexus are the ones that are playing games that they're already excited about. So like when we launched with Bloons, it wasn't us going and getting a bunch of creators who've never played before to come play the game. We're simply like supercharging the creators that already love the game, that they've been playing it for seven years.

This is their favorite title. This is, you know, one of the two games that they play. It's like the only thing that their audience watches. And the program just makes it even a better experience for everyone involved. And so, we're not really advertising. We're really like partnering with the products that they already play and use and talk about.

So I'm not super worried about any of that stuff. And we'll see what happens when it happens.

Yane An: Yeah, I don't think it would affect your guys' product at all. In like a tangible sense, do you provide a storefront for creators, or is it, for example, on Twitch, like a button in their bio or something like that?

Justin Sacks: It depends. The ideal version is an in-game creator code, which means the creator, they come to Nexus, they get a code, and so it would be like their username or whatever it is, and they'd simply tell their audience like, hey when you're in-game, going to buy something, you can use my code. And then when you buy it, it supports me as the creator.

That's like the ideal loop with some games, like it's more challenging to do that technical integration. And so they leverage our web store technology. And so basically a creator comes to us and they build their own little game store, takes them two minutes to do. So they choose their favorite games or DLCs or whatever it might be, and they get to choose the branding, the aesthetic, all that sort of stuff for their store.

And then they tell their audience, Hey, go to this link. So next is Nexus.gg slash creator name, and then when someone goes there and buys something, they get a key. So often it's a steam key, and then that customer can go put that key into steam or wherever it is, redeem the content, and then the purchase happens through Nexus, so the creator still gets a piece of it.

So most of the time it happens in game, but we do have a web store product. So like the Capcom Creator store, for example, that's web store.

Yane An: Amazing. How do you guys choose what creators to work with actually? Do they have to like hit a certain amount of like influence? Yeah.

Justin Sacks: it's up to the publisher. So the publisher has a bunch of con controls over their creator program. So the first one is around who can be a part of it. And so the first step is it can be an open program where any creator can come in and. Join it, you know, be a part of it, get their creator code, all that sort of stuff.

The second piece is an application based program where the creator comes and they attach their TikTok, their YouTube, their Twitter, whatever it might be, and then the publisher gets to approve them or reject them and say, yes, this person's a fit. No, this person isn't a fit. Or they can have a closed programmer.

They can say, Hey, these few dozen creators are the people that we want to be in a part of it. And then we can extend invites for them to come and join. So the, the publisher has all those controls. They also have controls over the core perk, which is that revenue share perk. And so the first one is like, You can have creator groups, so you can incentivize different creators.

So you could say, Hey, if you made 20 hours of content over the last month, then you can be in the platinum tier. And then you get special perks there. Or they can say, Hey, you've been making really great content that we approve of. We're gonna put you in this special tier. The second control that publishers have is around SKUs, so in live service games, You might really wanna incentivize a player to buy a battle pass, for example.

And so you can give enhanced revenue share for a battle pass SKU, but maybe less for a hard currency for someone just buying like the endgame currency. And then the last piece is time. You can change that revenue share for a weekend or a new season launch or whatever it might be. And so long answer to question, which creators we work with, it's totally up to the publisher and then we support them.

On, you know, what are their goals for the game. And those that support can be anything from helping a prospect, the right creator to engaging with that creator to bringing them in. But we have a bunch of best practices and recommendations, but we put the ultimate control in the hands of the publisher.

Yane An: Exactly. All right. Amazing. Do you see any, like general trends in the gaming industry that you guys are like looking out for, paying attention to these days?

Justin Sacks: Yeah, I think there's a really interesting juxtaposition between the idea that creators can become more niche while at the same time, the power law of content creation is becoming more true.

So like the first one, you know, like basically the internet broadly has enabled people with really specific interests; like, they collect, you know, like Nintendo 64 cartridges that were lost, you know, in the late nineties. If you have like some super specific niche interest, there's now a huge community that you can find because the internet has connected all the people with similar interests.

And I think creators have followed that. Where you can play Pokemon Kaizo emulators, and have thousands of viewers because all of the people that, that's their favorite thing in the world to watch. They didn't have someone to watch and now they do. So I think, I think that is becoming true.

Well, it's also becoming true that the biggest creators have even more advantages than they've ever had before, where the top 0.01% probably makes more money than the next 80% of creators. And it's odd to think that both of those can be true at the same time. I don't really know what to take from that concept, but it's just a thing that I think through.

I also do think there's something interesting around creator platforms and how there's been the consistent tension between does do creators cbring the viewers Or does the platform bring the viewers. This is what we saw with like the Mixer stuff when it happened.

This is what we're seeing now with the dissemination of, there's a bunch of new platforms popping up and some of 'em are paying a bunch of money to creators. It's like, will that work? Or is it really about having some new way of experiencing content? And even that is a question like TikTok is enormously successful.

It's the most successful new platform in five years or whatever it is, but like, was it successful because of its algorithm and cuz of the content delivery? Like yes, but also Bytedance spent a literal billion dollars of marketing it and that's a lot of money to spend on trying to make a new platform and it's just a weird thing to think through of what is gonna happen.

And I don't know, it's things that we have to pay attention to cuz like our mission is to empower as many creators as possible through commerce and it's important to understand, you know, what drives them, what challenges are they facing and what things are they excited about. But I know our solution is not to be the next content platform.

We're not going to be a better Twitch.We're not going to be the distribution platform. We're just going to be the piece that that helps their lives to be better.

Yane An: Yeah. I guess regardless of the evolution of these social platforms, your guys' product is great.

Justin Sacks: It's why we want to be agnostic and like if, if we're built only on Twitch for example, like be really challenging because who knows what will happen with Twitch more broadly or maybe Twitch wants to build whatever we build internally. And so for us to be agnostic, but also creators' audiences live in many places now. I mean, most classically, if you're on a YouTube, a Twitch, you might have a little bit of an audience on the other platform, but you're definitely gonna have a Twitter, you're gonna have community. You're gonna have a bunch of touch points with your community.

And so like, we should support you wherever your audience is.

Yane An: Yeah. In case people go stream on uh Kick, right? Ha ha.

Justin Sacks: Who

Yane An: Yeah.

Justin Sacks: knows.

Yane An: Who knows.

Interesting musings, food for thought about creators, the creator economy.

You said there's a couple of future things coming along the pipeline for Nexus. What are your guys' future plans or like projections as you continue into the industry?

Justin Sacks: Yeah, so I can talk a bunch about that. I'll start super high level and then I'll get to specific features and roadmap.

Super high level. The very, very initial focus is on technical enablement. How do we make it easier for a publisher to integrate with us? There's basically like two pieces.

They have to do an API integration, which is really, really lightweight. Usually less than two dev hours. And then there's the UI integration of how do they actually put this inside of the game. And that can take a little bit of time, sometimes a week or a couple weeks. And so we spent a bunch of time building STKs within Unity and Unreal building sample projects, building documentation to make that even easier. And now one of the things that we're doing is partnering with external dev shops that do the entire integration for a publisher. And all the publisher has to do is bring it into master. So the first focus right now is enablement, making it easier publishers to work with us.

The second focus will be a better self-serve experience for current customers. And that current is the most important word there. And really what that means is…Let's say you want to run an activation where you do 10% more revenue share for creators for a weekend. If, let's say the game is doing some big launch that weekend or comes out with some new battle pass or whatever it is; if they want do that today, they have to tell us, they have to be in our Slack and be like: “Hey, we wanna do this thing. Canyou set that up?” And then our team will go into the database and change it and make sure that that's set and prepared to happen. The publisher should have full control and should have the ability to like decide and then actually execute on any of the activations that they want to do.

And they should have greater fidelity of the data through the program. So making that self-serve part a better experience. And then eventually we'll be the actual self-serve experience if you're not yet a partner with Nexus. Today, if you want to have a creator program, we might say no because we can only handle a few partners at a time right now in, in terms of onboarding new ones. So if you're not exactly the right game that'll find a lot of value and like, make a ton of sense for us to work together today,

We might have to say we can only help you in the future and that's because we have to manually onboard you. We have to build a bunch of the different tools and it takes us some time in order to launch a new partner. But that doesn't have to be true. There is an entirely possible self-serve experience.

Where any game, whether it's a tiny indie game or a large AAAgame can come to Nexus and build and launch and maintain their own creator program without ever talking to a human. We just have to build those things that, like self-serve, get your own API key sort of stuff. And that, that is like once the product is really, really working for our partners.

That's probably not until 2024. So that's high level specific features. One of the things we just hit code complete on, and we'll see which partner we're gonna launch it with first is a Refer-A-Friend.

Justin Sacks: The creator code stuff that we provide is incredible again, for creator retention.

It's a great fit for any game that's already out, that already has a player base, that already has a creator base. But let's say you're a new game and you're really focused on user acquisition, on getting new players to join your game. One of the tools that can be really helpful is refer-a-friend. Both for influencers so that they can refer their audience in and get rewards, but also just for general players.

And it was straightforward for us to just add that to the platform we've already built because it uses a lot of the same tools and dashboarding and infrastructure. so we've launched that, and there's a bunch of fun little things you can incentivize people to refer in a specific type of player.

So you can give someone a reward, whether that's an in game reward or an out of game like dollar reward for saying, not just  getting 10 players to join the game, but it might be“refer 10 players who reach level 20 and join a guild and built a castle,” because once someone does those things, they're a really valuable player.

Or hey, refer five friends who play at least 10 matches with you. That's really powerful for games that need a little bit more education for the new player experience. We're mimicking what Fortnite has done again, because they built an incredible refer a-friend system., which is the rewards you get for referring a friend is after playing with that friend, cuz they know if you play with a friend, you're way more likely to stick around.

So that's one product. One thing we're working on that we're experimenting with, so I don't want to guarantee will exist, is the thing we're calling “campaigns”, which will basically help folks doing more traditional influencer marketing, pay out wider swathes of creators. It gets really challenging if you're doing traditional influencer marketing to work with more than a dozen creators because they get to the point that you're paying them less than what it actually costs you to execute. So like if you're paying someone $50 to do a stream or make a video or something, it'll actually cost you more to even send out the payments or to handle the taxes or whatever it is

Yane An: Ah, yeah.

Justin Sacks: but,

Yane An: see. Yeah.

Justin Sacks: But at Nexus we already do all that stuff.

So what if we can make it really easy to work with hundreds of creators at a time or thousands of creators on a campaign? Basically, the point of Nexus is a creator program in a box. All the things that you need to manage a world-class creator program should be part of the platform; part of the systems.

And so those are the sort of features that we're thinking about.

Yane An: Yeah, that's a lot of amazing integrations down the work. User acquisition seems to be a, a pretty tricky one. So yeah, hopefully that, that launches without a hitch. A lot of other platforms also do user acquisition, like, off the top of my head, for example, like Twitch Prime, right?

It's like, oh, you can redeem this item if you, if you sign up for a game and stuff. So I sort of wonder like what do you guys think is like your unique selling point slash like, what sets you apart from that?

Justin Sacks: Again, it's the refer-a-friend piece. It's straightforward for us to add into the API that we already have as part of the dashboarding and infrastructure that we built. And it's a thing that pretty much every game should have some sort of referral system built into it. But if you look around, many games don't and it's because there is no off the shelf solution.

It's kind of wild that there's not some generic thing you can manipulate within Unity or in Unreal to just have your own referral system, but it is like sort of a backend touching thing, which is hard. And so we figured we might as well offer it to these games and we'll learn if it's particularly valuable.

I am not saying we're shifting our focus into being more UA or that we're solving for any things that some of the other awesome platforms do. It's just that specific feature of most games, most game publishers think to themselves like, “Hey, it would be nice if we had a refer-a-friend system and then they have some PM go and figure out, well what would it take in order to build it?”

And they're like, look, it's probably not worth it for us to do.

Yane An: Right.

Justin Sacks: And if Nexus can just give you that as part of what we do and it's really simple to integrate, then we should probably think about it and probably do so. It's similar to our core creator program product. Every single live service publisher is having conversations around creator programs.

They're like, I wish we had one, but then they're like, but our finance team would have to figure out the updating of which creator's owed what, and then actually sending out those payments, they'd be really upset. Our engineering team has literally negative roadmap and has no time in order to build like the actual infrastructure to connect.

When a player is supporting a creator, we then need to have an evergreen influencer team in order to manage it.That's the whole point of Nexus… we'll just do all that stuff for you and just build the best game you can.

Yane An: Yeah. And then Gamesight will hand out the influencer discovery, so

Justin Sacks: That's totally, that's the, partnership.

Yane An: You guys are already branching out into new technologies, especially with your new vR partnership. Right. Definitely think now with like Apple entering the VR space with their $3,500 headset, everyone's favorite.

Yeah. It's definitely going to become a lot more mainstream. And, VR was the newest craze like 10 years ago, I guess, and then people like sort of lost hope in it and now it's back again. So yeah, we'll see how the industry moves in the future

Justin Sacks: There's a term, fence sitting, which is like when you won't take a stance either way. And I love to do that and I think that's actually like a good thing to do for a startup generally. But this is why we're platform agnostic.

So I talked a lot about being agnostic to the content platforms. We'll work with a creator, whether you're on Twitch or YouTube, or you have a big Twitter audience or a Discord community or whatever it is. We're happy to partner with you. But we'll also partner with game publishers agnostic to whatever distribution platform they're on PC through Steam, they have their own launcher.

They're on one of the consoles, they're on mobile, they're in VR. We're happy to support you. And I think that's really important because. Just like how creators have audiences amongst different platforms, games are becoming very much multi-platform and effectively every console and even your phone is, they're all computers and they're all kind of able to solve the same things that like most games will probably be multi-platform that are live service in the future.

So I'm rooting for Apple VR because I think it'll be awesome to experience. But we're happy to support a game no matter where they're being distributed.

Yane An: Yes. I love that.

Yeah. Is there anything else you'd like to plug or shout out for Nexus?

Justin Sacks: Probably two things actually. So one games that we should focus on and support. We're really focused on live service games that already have a player base in a community and a creator community. But if you know of one of them or you work at one of them, or you're supporting any of them, we'd love to talk with them and see if we could help.

And then two, right now we have one open position to join the company if you're truly exceptional reach out anyways and I'll have to work with you in some way. But we are hiring for a Head of Sales, so if you've sold awesome infrastructure technology into game publishers and you've worked at tiny startups before, please reach out because I'd love to talk to you.

Yane An: Yeah, Nexus needs you. Thank you again so much for being a guest. Learned a lot of interesting stuff, a lot of exciting stuff to see. You come from like all the way from the beginnings of like Curse all the way to now. And here you are supporting creators and I love to see how the creator economy went from like an indie industry to like today, right? The gaming community and the industry have really become something and we always love to see that. So yeah. Good things at Nexus.

Justin Sacks: Thanks so much for having me. I appreciate it.