Belgium’s top soccer league, Jupiler Pro League, has partnered with gaming company Ubisoft’s Strategic Innovation Lab and collectibles startup Sorare to launch a fantasy football game using blockchain. The One Shot League, which uses digital player collectibles, is already live and the basic game is free to play.
The presence of digital collectibles as nonfungible tokens (NFT) in football has increased significantly during the Covid-19 pandemic. With games behind closed doors, sports entities were forced to look for alternative solutions to keep fans engaged and generate revenue for the team.
Initiatives like Sorare’s collectibles offered teams a solution during these trying times by enabling fans worldwide to be involved in the football community through the ownership of collectibles. In addition, Sorare consumers remain committed and preoccupied with the game outcomes as they affect their digital player’s value. For example, a Cristiano Ronaldo card recently sold for $102,000.
Therefore it is not surprising that just last week Sorare raised $50 million in funding. The Belgian League was one of the first signs of the startup back in 2018, which has since signed deals with football leaders such as Liverpool, PSG, and Bayern Munich, and has over 126 teams on its network.
One Shot League players line up a team of five football players through digital cards. Their performance is based on how the actual players perform on the field. Players can create a different line-up every match day and their overall performance is totaled over time and ranked against other players on the platform. Each matchday, winners can receive limited edition Sorare cards.
The games’ competitive element makes it so that players have a higher chance of being successful if they closely follow the league and its players. STATSPerform, a Pro League Partner provided the individual performance date for the football players.
Blockchain enables the One Shot League collectibles also to be used in Sorare’s weekly football fantasy games. Furthermore, the technology permits the digital card owners to trade them in digital marketplaces, including through Sorare’s platform.
It seems Ubisoft developed the fantasy game based on Sorare’s collectibles, although Sorare has its separate fantasy game. In many ways, this is what blockchain NFT games are all about. The nonfungible token can be incorporated by third parties to create other experiences. And Sorare says it’s keen to develop this sort of ecosystem. The collectibles startup has an existing relationship with the big games firm as a participant in the Ubisoft Entrepreneur Labs.
Ubisoft is particularly interested in addressing blockchain barriers in the potential interoperability of different blockchain-based games, which this seems to address head-on.
Meanwhile, technical knowledge is one of the main barriers to be addressed by blockchain solutions targeted at regular consumers. Sorare tackled this by partnering with crypto app Ramp, which made digital wallets an integral part of Sorare’s offering, so consumers don’t have to go through a cryptocurrency exchange. This solution is likely to be available for One Shot players if they go beyond the free game.
Meanwhile, Ubisoft is part of the Blockchain Game Alliance, which promotes the use of the technology in the gaming industry. It has a partnership with Flow, a blockchain platform developed by Dapper Labs targeting the entertainment field. Last year, the company launched a blockchain collectible game to raise money for UNICEF.