The Buff Business Model – How Does Buff Make Money?

Executive Summary:

Buff is a platform that enables users to earn redeemable rewards while playing video games on their PC or mobile phone.

Buff makes money from advertising, by offering a premium subscription, as well as from interchange fees. It operates on a freemium business model.

What Is Buff Game?

Buff is a software application that enables users to earn redeemable rewards while playing video games on their PC or mobile phone.

The platform works together with some of the world’s leading game developers including Epic Games, Electronic Arts, and others.

As such, gamers can earn rewards while they play titles such as League of Legends, CS:GO, PUBG, Fortnite, and plenty more.

Here’s how earning rewards with Buff Games works. First, you either download the platform’s Windows software or mobile app, which is available for both Android and iOS devices.

Then, you either register an account using your email or connect your Discord account to the platform.

Afterward, you simply start playing one of Buff’s partner games to start earning rewards. These rewards are dubbed ‘Buff Coins’ and are granted for completing in-game achievements.

Those coins can then be cashed out for a variety of rewards. Primarily, users can redeem them in exchange for rewards such as gift cards, gaming hardware, in-game skins, and more.    

A Short History Of Buff

Buff, which is headquartered in Tel Aviv, Israel, was founded in 2018 by Elay De Beer, Ophir Gertner, and Ophir Sarapi.

All three founders possess over a decade of experience in fields such as FinTech, gaming, marketing, and more.

CEO De Beer, for example, founded and ran gaming-related startups for over six years. Afterward, he joined All Aspect, an ad tech company where he would meet his co-founder Sarapi.

When the three founders started Buff back in March 2018, they did so with a slightly different business model. Back then, initial coin offerings (ICOs) were allowing startups without products to raise tens of millions in funding.

The team planned to create a blockchain-based loyalty program for gamers. Users would be rewarded in the platform’s native currency (Buff Coins) when the blockchain would launch.

In order to get the business off the ground, they partnered with Overwolf, a gaming software provider that ran over 300 apps and boasted 15 million users at the time. The partnership gave Buff access to data from the hundreds of games that Overwolf had already been integrated in.

Over the coming month, the team stayed busy building up hype for the platform. This is a common tactic within ICOs as it helps to maximize the money that a startup can raise.

The team planned to sell 20 percent of the overall coin supply during the ICO, which itself was equal to 300 million at the time.

Unfortunately, for reasons that haven’t been disclosed to this date, Buff’s founders decided to abandon the ICO and blockchain concept altogether in November 2018. One possible explanation is the cooling of the ICO market, which took place throughout 2018.

To continue the business, they decided to pursue more traditional means of fundraising. In January 2019, Buff raised an undisclosed round from Intel as well as Overwolf’s Gaming Fund.

That money was primarily used to alter the firm’s business model away from cryptocurrencies toward other means of revenue generation (more on that in the next chapter).

In June 2019, Buff officially unveiled the beta version of its platform. It still rewarded users for playing games but did so without the usage of blockchains and cryptocurrencies.

Over 35,000 users joined Buff in 2019 alone. The team, furthermore, managed to expand its supporting games from three all the way to seven, which further increased its total addressable market (TAM).

In 2020, the team continued to grow the platform at a steady clip. Towards the end of the year, they began to significantly ramp up their marketing efforts. Throughout 2020, Buff managed to grow to 50,000 daily active users.

The consistent growth enabled Buff to launch a mobile version of its platform back in March 2021. Buff’s executive team, instead of seeking additional funding from venture investors, decided to pursue an IPO.

As a result, Buff Technologies became the first local gaming company to be listed on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange in August 2021. The IPO allowed Buff to raise another $9.3 million in funding.

The additional funding as well as Buff’s acceptance into Visa’s fast track program (back in February) enabled the company to launch a debit card for gamers in December. Branded BuffPay, the debit card allows users to pay in stores that accept Visa.

In the coming months, Buff’s team stayed busy promoting and expanding the platform across the United States. For example, it partnered with North American esports organization NRG Esports which agreed to promote Buff across its own channels.

As of today, Buff’s various apps have been installed over 4.5 million times. Daily active players now equal 450,000.

How Does Buff Make Money?

Buff makes money from advertising, by offering a premium subscription, as well as from interchange fees.

Buff relies on a freemium business model. That means the platform can be accessed at no cost. However, users are still being monetized via advertising.

If those very same users choose to have a greater experience, they can do so by opting in to one of Buff’s subscription programs.

Let’s take a closer look at each of those revenue streams in the section below.

Advertising

Advertising is the name of the game for freemium platforms such as Buff. Ads are displayed both within its Windows as well as mobile app.

Those ads are shown either in a banner or video format. Buff is compensated for every ad impression. The platform receives a small fee every time the user sees an ad.

Normally, if a user clicks on one of those ads (or even ends up purchasing the advertised product or service), then Buff receives an even greater fee from the advertiser.

Going forward, Buff could introduce additional ads across its platform. For example, it could allow companies to promote their products within Buff’s marketplace. Gaming-related companies, in particular, would be suitable advertisers.

Subscriptions

Another source of revenue for Buff Technologies is the subscription fees it derives from its various premium plans.

Those plans are available on both a monthly and yearly basis. Buff offers three plans, namely Premium, Premium Plus, and Premium Elite.

Those plans cost anywhere between $2.99 to $7.99 per month (or $26.99 to $69.99 per year). Users will be granted a variety of benefits such as extra points every month, increased daily rewards, access to its Discord channel, and many more.

Offering subscriptions is a common monetization method for platforms that operate under a freemium model.

The free version does not significantly alter the core experience. However, if users seek to have a smoother experience (for example, not seeing ads or receiving greater rewards), they can do so by paying.

This does not alienate the platform’s overwhelming user base, yet still offers a different experience for more affluent gamers.

Interchange Fees

As previously stated, Buff Technologies launched a branded debit card in December 2021. The card, branded BuffPay, enables users to pay using their collected coins.

The card itself has been issued by Visa and Evolve Bank & Trust. The cooperation with Evolve ensures that Buff is able to offer the necessary security to keep a user’s funds secure.

Cardholders are rewarded with Buff points whenever they pay using the debit card. Buff is able to hand out those rewards due to the interchange fees it collects.

Interchange fees are paid by the merchant in exchange for them being able to tap into Visa’s card network.

Those interchange fees are normally equal to around one percent. However, some countries have introduced caps that are below that threshold.

Buff, in all likeliness, then splits this interchange revenue with both Visa as well as Evolve Bank. The actual percentage split is not being publicly disclosed.

Similar to advertising, Buff relies on its massive user base to make the card model work. If those users become attached to the platform, they are more likely to be paying with the debit card.  

Buff, furthermore, plans to introduce a premium metal card. The card costs $109.95 per year and grants users even greater rewards.  

Who Owns Buff?

Buff is owned by its founders Elay De Beer, Ophir Gertner, and Ophir Sarapi. The company has only raised two rounds of funding thus far, which enabled the founders to retain a significant stake in the company.

The company’s founders gave away around 20 percent of their ownership stake when they went public in August 2021.

Previously, Buff had raised an undisclosed round from Intel and Overwolf. The dilution, however, was not disclosed during the funding round.

Hi folks, Viktor checking in! Years of experience in various tech-related roles have led me to start this blog, which I hope provides you with as much enjoyment to read as I have writing the content.