Are esports NFT trading cards the next big thing?
There is always something new and fascinating in the world of online gaming. Aside from the increasing number of game developers and streaming services, the phenomenon of the hypercompetitive scene of esports is unparalleled. The levels of sophistication and prestige it holds invite more individuals and even non-endemic sectors to its ever-growing and exciting potentials. Now, they are all about the creative novelty called NFTs (non-fungible tokens) — a key feature to esports’ future fan growth.
Understanding NFTs: What they are and how valuable they are
Stored on a digital ledger called blockchain, NFTs are incredibly one-of-a-kind cryptographic assets that represent real-world aspects like art, music, internet memes, and in-game items, among others, to higher standards. Although they are similarly programmed like digital currencies, they have an entirely different purpose and value.
Digital currencies are fungible, making them easily traded for another coin and even fiat money. NFTs, on the other hand, are interchangeably built with unique IDs and definite origins, giving owners distinct authenticity to their values. Meaning, unlike how most pieces of information online are quickly copied and pasted everywhere, these assets are impossible to be replaced or duplicated.
Editor-in-Chief of Decrypt, Daniel Roberts said, ‘NFTs can't be duplicated or copied, they're verifiably scarce. All it really means is that it can't be divided, duplicated, subbed one-for-one’.
NFTs' astoundingly high value comes from their special degree of connection between creators and buyers. Every piece of information that those tokens hold give buyers the right to entirely own the original output, leaving the copyright to the artists. With this benefit, imagine the number of enthusiasts willing to spend to have significant shares of the creators’ pieces. In the esports industry, they are used as a fan engagement tool.
NFTs empower esports digital collectables
Esports NFT serves as merchandises of game developers, esports franchisers and teams. Akin to how Bitcasino releases exclusive crypto games and profitable promotions, those unique tokens represent in-game assets, prizes, and digital collectables to better engage and attract more fans.
Collectables are among the most efficient ways to increase esports organisations and gaming companies’ marketing efforts, such as promoting their upcoming events and releasing new items for players. Now, by combining NFTs with esports, they have become even more popular and valuable, especially to the younger generation of digital natives no longer familiar nor interested in trading dirty and torn cards.
NFT-based digital collectables guarantee longer-lasting conditions and better security. Their value won’t diminish because, again, they have unique IDs that make them impossible to be duplicated. However, if you are a collector interested in monetising your accumulated items, you can sell or trade them securely and efficiently on a peer-to-peer basis with instant verification of ownership.
Esports organisations and teams that have tapped into NFTs
While NFTs are for everyone, only a few can participate in the process due to their limited edition series. Take OG, for instance. The world-renowned Europe-based professional esports team currently have three major ‘drops’ this year, generating close to $1 million in the process. Below are some of their inclusions:
- 1st drop (January 23, 2021) — They sold 1,099 mystery boxes and 79 versions of artwork made by artist Filip Hodas, totalling $272,089.88.
- 2nd drop (March 28, 2021) — There were open and closed editions of custom-made artworks in auctions, generating a total of $203,624.33.
- 3rd drop (July 6, 2021) — They hosted three closed auctions, selling 10 art pieces and 3,336 integrated tokens in just 10 seconds. They were a total of $510,995.15 — the biggest reach for now.
Here are a few other notable names in the industry that have dabbled into their uses and benefits.
In June 2021, esports team Dignitas announced their partnership with NFT production studio company Zytara Labs for their series of NFT collections and playing cards. It was reported that the latter would use the DigitalBits protocol, resulting in a variety of new collector items and memorabilia to celebrate the team’s players and events.
In fact, if you explore more of NFTs starting today, one thing you ought to know is that Zytara is one of the few versatile NFT companies. Just recently, they helped launch American former pro boxer Floyd Mayweather’s first NFT, and he was just among many other artists.
In mid-August 2021, NRG Esports is another world-class team to have announced the release of their own NFT collectables. In doing so, they partnered with Guild of Guardians, a blockchain mobile role-playing game (RPG) currently under development. However, sources guarantee that it is set to release on mobile devices in early 2022.
When asked about the importance of the NFT partnership, Game Director for Guild of Guardians Derek Lau said, ‘The rise of digital ownership is a huge indicator of what the next stage of the evolution of gaming and Esports fan engagement will look like’.
NFTs and Esports: The key to mass adoption and fan growth
As the world increasingly becomes digital, the advent of NFTs in both online gaming and esports is just in the nick of time. They deliver a unique blend of digital and physical experiences, inciting fans to show their support as well as even inviting people solely involved in investments and trade.
With more artists, esports teams, and gaming companies dabbling into NFTs, they are certainly not a fad. Like how digital currencies were criticised in their early days, they are here to stay, getting bigger and more profitable like a single industry. In 2020, their market reached $250 million, then impressively jumped to $2 billion in the first quarter of 2021.
Words by: Antoinette Laraze