Today’s guest columnist is Adam Richman, CEO of Strat-O-Matic Media.
By now, we are all familiar with the “return to simpler times” stories of the pandemic: making meals as a family, reopening board games that had been collecting dust, reading and watching content together, going on hikes, and discovering some of the small, beautiful things we did not take the time to enjoy when life was busier.
However, as the return to “almost-normal” has brought things back closer to where we were prior to the spring of 2020, many of those old-time discoveries have faded to black again. Are we hiking, eating more at home and breaking out the Monopoly game on a Friday night? Maybe, but certainly we have returned to many old habits that are just part of modern life. Some, my family included, have found a balance of best practices new and old, but for many, the tides receded, and the hustle and bustle has returned.
Like many businesses in the gaming world, we at Strat-O-Matic saw a great pandemic bounce. Not only were families rediscovering our games, new players were finding us for the first time. That included a large number of young sports fans, particularly when there was little to no live sports being played, who used our simulations and recreations to connect with an older generation who also love sports and data. We saw this bounce, but unlike many other “traditional” gaming companies, we also saw an opportunity to reconceive our business and find a way to take 60 years of learning from a family-owned company and pivot to where we would be on the other side of the pandemic. Record sales during a two-year quiet period were not enough. Media outlets using our decades of data to recreate classic matchups were not enough. There were seeds of progress being sewn here that we needed to take advantage of.
So, we did what many companies do when they see the market evolving: We found a way to embrace our traditions, our data, our fans, and ramp up where we could go next while not losing our core audience. What we saw was a yearning to use data—first-class, reliable data we had built not only in baseball, but also across all of the major team sports in North America to drive interest, engagement and debate.
With that data, we could create scenarios for fans of all ages that could keep consumers engaged and enthralled by answering some time-honored questions. “What if Tom Brady would have stayed with the Patriots?” “What if Shaq never left the Magic?” “What if Josh Gibson would have played with the Giants or the Yankees?” “What if Gretzky would have remained in Edmonton?”
And one of our favorites: “If the 1994 MLB strike season would have been able to finish, would the Expos have won a World Series?”
We came up with these scenarios not just on our own, but from fans new and old, and from media outlets that had gotten used to running our simulations as lifelike results during the pandemic pause. We saw there was a whole model of predictive gaming that we had never fully realized before as a business. We also watched the rise of businesses like sports gambling, and even what Zed Run was doing with virtual horse racing, and quickly saw a path forward.
Strat-O-Matic doesn’t need to just be a traditional game played either on a phone, laptop or a board; it could be a driver for fans whose quest for data and results could be realized through all the work we had done over the years. In short, Strat-O-Matic could answer some of the most debated questions of “Super Teams,” or “Trades That Never Happened” with great accuracy and realism.
The result for us is a new business arising out of the pause in sports. One that has a place for the traditional fan, but one that is driven by data, results and realism that modern fans can enjoy in short bites, or that they can share with friends around the world. The possibilities are endless.
Beyond that, there are opportunities for activating our best-in-class library of data inside NFT experiences, and also in more traditional physical collectibles.
We are looking forward to where these new models will take not just us, but the gaming and collectible worlds as well. We are constantly seeing curious learners in business reinvent themselves with opportunities never seen before, and we are doing the same thing, the results of which are wonderful for fans of data, of analytics and of sport.
It is a new ballgame on the business side, and we welcome the future by not forgetting our past. A future where fans can enjoy not just the games of today, but the amazing details of history that can now be brought to life in new, engaging ways.
As Strat-O-Matic Media’s CEO, Richman has led a turnaround of the 61-year-old company, growing revenues more than 50%, creating products for sports betting, NFTs and collectibles, as well as launching the Strat Content Division that produces historical and forward-looking simulations.