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The Growing Monopoly of What Does This Mean for Online Chess?

The world of online chess has been dominated by one major player in recent years: With its increasing market share, monopolistic tendencies, and influence over top chess streamers, the platform's rise has not been without controversy. In this article, we will explore the implications of's dominance, the struggles of its competitors, and the future outlook of online chess.

(1) Purchasing Power/Market Share: has emerged as the leading platform for playing and learning chess online. The company's purchasing power and market share have allowed it to acquire smaller competitors and secure partnerships with various organizations and elite players, making it the go-to destination for chess enthusiasts.

Courtesy: (Chess Goals Survey)

While this survey is somewhat accurate, a more detailed analysis should be done as has certaintly led to a decrease in Lichess's player base.

(2) Monopoly Problem:

One issue that has been raised is the company's recent purchase of Play Magnus, a chess app that allows users to play against a virtual version of world champion Magnus Carlsen at different stages of his career. Some have argued that this move represents a power grab by and could lead to a monopoly in the online chess market.

Valued at $80 million, Play Magnus was acquired in August 2022 by the chess giant. Courtesy:

Another concern is the company's ownership of other websites and platforms, such as Chesskids, Chessable, and Chess24. While some see this as a positive development that brings together different chess communities, others worry that it gives too much control.

On one hand,'s dominance can lead to increased resources for the platform to invest in new features, tools, and partnerships that may benefit the wider chess community. This can result in improved user experiences, better coaching and learning resources, and enhanced opportunities for online tournaments and events.

However, there are also concerns that come with monopolistic control. For one, the lack of competition can stifle innovation, as has less incentive to push the boundaries of its platform and continually improve its offerings. When there are fewer competitors, platforms have less reason to compete for users by introducing new features, improving the user experience, or lowering prices for premium services.

Another concern is the potential for biased decision-making and unfair treatment of players. When one platform has significant control over the market, it has the power to shape the rules of online chess and influence decisions that can impact players' reputations, standings, and even livelihoods. For example, if there are disputes or allegations of cheating, the platform's monopoly could result in a lack of transparency or impartiality in resolving such issues, as there is no alternative authority or competitor to keep it in check.

Lastly, the monopoly of may lead to a homogenization of the online chess experience, as there are fewer alternative platforms that offer unique features, communities, or perspectives. This may result in a less diverse and vibrant chess ecosystem, which could ultimately be detrimental to the growth and development of the game as a whole.'s growing monopoly presents a double-edged sword for the online chess community.

All of's companies that they own and work alongside. Courtesy:

(3) Chess Streamers/Influence:'s influence is evident in the realm of chess streaming, with popular streamers like Hikaru Nakamura, GothamChess, Anna Cramling, and Botez Live all primarily using the platform. This concentration of streamers on a single site can lead to a lack of diversity in content and perspectives, potentially stifling creativity and growth within the chess community. They also invested and worked with other creators outside the platform as chess bots to encourage more people to use the platform. They can change and control the narrative around any chess story.


(4) Support For Other Platforms:

As's dominance grows, other smaller platforms like Lichess are struggling to retain members. With fewer players using these alternatives, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to compete, ultimately threatening their long-term viability.

Source: Unknown Reddit User

(5) Present Day:

Recent controversies, such as the investigation of Hans Niemann, have raised questions about potential bias and fairness within the ecosystem. Without an alternative authority to oversee online chess, the platform's dominance risks undermining the integrity of the game.

Hans Niemann dominates Capablanca Memorial. Source: Chessbase

(6) Future Proposed Plans And Outlook:

If continues to grow unchecked, it may eventually overtake Lichess entirely, leaving few viable alternatives for players. To address these concerns, some have proposed the development of a governing body to oversee and regulate online chess, promoting fairness and competition while preventing any one platform from gaining too much power.

The rapid ascent of as the dominant force in online chess has raised important questions about the impact of monopolies on the game's future. Players, fans, and industry stakeholders must carefully consider the implications of this dominance and work together to promote a diverse, competitive, and innovative online chess landscape.

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