Today Topps, the company that has licensed Major League Baseball (MLB) collectible cards for years, announced plans to launch licensed digital collectibles nonfungible tokens (NFT) next week. It’s not the company’s first expansion into digital collectibles as it already has numerous apps, including Topps BUNT for baseball. In fact it has already released NFTs with other partners, but it’s the firm’s first foray into NFTs for baseball.
What distinguishes NFTs is that a user can prove their ownership via blockchain, trade it, and potentially use the NFT in other applications such as fantasy sports competitions as well.
The NFTs that will go on sale next week including art from the physical 2021 Series 1 Baseball release, some of which are ‘digitally enhanced and creatively reimagined’. As with physical cards, the digital collectibles will be released in a series of packs with standard and premium levels.
“The partnership between Major League Baseball, MLB Players, Inc. and Topps has delighted collectors and fans for generations, celebrating the legendary players and iconic moments that have defined America’s Pastime,” said Tobin Lent, VP & General Manager of Topps Digital Sports & Entertainment. He continued that NFTs will “provide another fun avenue for fans to collect their favorite heroes and moments with secure digital ownership on the blockchain.”
Topps’ new offering follows in the footsteps of the NBA Top Shot game, which has passed $500 million in cumulative sales, almost all of which happened this year. However, the vast majority of that amount was in re-sales, where the platform still earns a 10% cut.
Meanwhile, Topps produces collectibles for numerous other sports franchises, including the UEFA Champions League, Formula 1, several other sports franchises, and Star Wars.
In terms of technology, the solution uses the World Asset eXchange (WAX) wallet. The usability is not quite as slick as NBA Top Shot, but it has a week to polish the experience with the launch on April 20th.
WAX developed its own blockchain protocol because in 2018, an NFT dApp it had on Ethereum suffered from a spike in blockchain loads and high fees. This is similar to the story behind the Flow Blockchain from NBA Top Shot creator Dapper Lab. The WAX team was originally associated with game company Valve, known for Steam, Half Life 2 and Counter Strike MMPG, but WAX split off. Hence its original mission was around in-game items and NFTs.