Worldwide, more than 75 million gamers have chosen Call of Duty: Warzone, a free-to-play battle royale game that’s part of the third-highest-grossing video game franchise in the world. In groups of up to 150 users at a time, players combat each other in best first-person shooter fashion, either privately or professionally in global esports tournaments.
Eager to tap into the massive Call of Duty universe is HangarSix, a platform that plans to claim some of Call of Duty’s competitive gamers by hosting tournaments with a twist.
Like other tournament sites, HangarSix organizes competitions for Warzone players, adding an extra financial incentive to their gameplay. But other than most, players that compete on HangarSix receive their payouts directly via Bitcoin’s Lightning Network.
“The idea to build something like this started when I saw these indie Lightning games being built,” HangarSix creator "BitcoinBram" explains. “Although they are really awesome and I look forward to playing them, I don't think they will replace big AAA games like Call of Duty for a while.”
Lightning games incorporate payments in satoshis (or “sats,” the smallest unit of a bitcoin) into their gameplay. Given the Lightning Network’s tender age of just over two and a half years, the selection of Lightning games is currently limited, most playable options being mobile or hyper-casual games.
With Call of Duty-focused HangarSix, Bram has instead set his eyes on a $18 billion AAA (pronounced “triple a”) franchise. AAA games are top-quality titles developed by large studios, usually backed by a massive development and marketing budget.
The platform is not without competition itself, however, as it seeks to enter a market with multiple existing tournament providers—most of which pay out prizes via traditional means and lure in gamers with prize pools of multiple hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Tournaments on HangarSix currently provide payouts of 50,000 sats per game (approximately $10 at press time). Bram explains that “as the player count of HangarSix rises, so will the prizes.” At the moment, his target group are bitcoiners that play Warzone, and he is pursuing tournament sponsorships to provide attractive prizes to participants.
Bram is convinced that his platform has an edge over its competitors when it comes to useability, however: many tournament providers require participants to join Discord servers and post gameplay screenshots, he says. HangarSix uses Call of Duty’s APIs to automate the process and make it as simple as possible for gamers to sign up for a tournament. Once registered, a player can return to their game, and their score is calculated automatically to determine their rank.
Down the road, HangarSix will feature tutorials for the setup of a Lightning wallet, which is required to participate in tournaments, and simple Bitcoin explainers so that newcomers “don't shy away because they are not yet familiar with Bitcoin.” Lightning’s user-friendliness should no longer pose an obstacle though, Bram believes:
“Lightning nowadays really isn't harder than installing an app though, even non-custodial Lightning. I think we have come a long way with Lightning, [...] and it's ready for a bigger audience.”
Eventually, Bram wants HangarSix to attract a portion of Warzone’s 75 million players. “Gamers are the one group that should grasp the idea of a virtual currency quickly,” he muses, adding that the financial incentive that comes with tournaments can significantly enhance the gaming experience: “It is way more exciting when you know there is real hard money on the line. We want players to experience that.”