Issue 22: Jerseys, play-to-earn, and a breakup
Here's your weekly review on what happened at the intersection of NFTs and Sports:
- 👕 AC Florence's VIOLA 9.5 project, Blackhawks go 8-bit
- 👾 EA Sports recruits for NFT activities, Formula E with NFT-based game
- 💔 MLB and Topps end relationship after 70+ years
Let's have a closer look! 👀
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👕 AC Florence's VIOLA 9.5 project, Blackhawks go 8-bit
Italian soccer club AC Florence has launched their first NFT collection that combines digital and physical items. It recalls "95 years of ACF Fiorentina history, by celebrating its most iconic moments, trophies, and players" and is set up in cooperation with NFT platform GENUINO. The collection consists of various cards that cover 11 seasons, which will be dropped every month of the entire 2021/2022 season. Highlights are the "match worn" cards that come along with a physical match worn jersey. Should be a highly valuable item for collectors and fans. To authenticate the physical items GENUINO adds so-called smart patches to the jerseys which are connected with the NFTs.
Also the Chicago Blackhawks are entering the NFT game. Their first team-issued collection consists of 12 animated characters, 48 static characters and 2,000 digital tickets. The items are inspired by "Blackhawks history, the city of Chicago, the United Center and the great game of hockey" and come in a retro 8-bit design. It seems no certain utility is connected to the items, keeping the NFTs very basic ones. Partner for the collection is NFT platform Sweet.
👾 EA Sports recruits for NFT activities, Formula E with NFT based game
Various reports have mentioned that EA Sports is hiring several Senior Director and software roles, including one in the Strategic Growth department, which covers subscriptions, competitions, marketplaces, and “new business opportunities like fantasy sports, blockchain and NFTs, and more.” The developer roles are “for products leveraging machine learning, blockchain.” Many believe this hints towards so-called “play-to-earn” games, in which users can win digital items that can be sold or collected. EA Sports would go a similar route as Ubisoft, who offers a fantasy football game in collaboration with Sorare, and the highly popular blockchain games Decentraland and especially Axie Infinity who generated $485m revenue since July.
Animoca Brands and Formula E have teamed up to create “Formula E: High Voltage”, a blockchain racing game. It lets the user build up a virtual racing team and all involved parts, e.g. the cars or drivers, are NFTs. It also involves the "play-to-earn" logic which rewards good performance with tokens and NFTs.
A space to watch!
💔 MLB and Topps end relationship after 70+ years
This one we've almost seen coming, at least with regards to NFTs: After over 70 years MLB and Topps are ending their relationship, and Fanatics will take over the collectibles agreement with the MLB from 2025 onwards. This has multiple effects: The MLB Topps NFTs which have been kicked off this year will not continue in the current form and Topps' planned public listing through a SPAC was called off by Mudrick Capital. Tough time for Topps for sure. Going forward we expect Candy Digital to run the NFT activities for the MLB, as they are partly owned by Fanatics and have dropped multiple NFT collections for the MLB already. Not surprising after seeing the declining numbers over the last couple of months (see issue 19), but still an interesting twist!
🤓 Wrapping it up
So what have we learned in this issue?
- Teams continue to drop NFT collections and take different approaches. We like AC Florence's match worn jersey angle and also the design of the NFTs, they clearly put a lot of effort into them. Also the Blackhawks' back-to-the-basics style collection has its charm. We like the willingness to experiment!
- Play-to-earn is a major success story in NFT history already, as Axie Infinity has shown with impressive numbers lately. Now it's time to translate the mechanics to the sports industry and we're curious to see who will find the right angle to it.
- The break-up of MLB and Topps has shown that even longterm partnerships can get reevaluated when there's pressure to make an organisation ready for a digital future. In the case at hand the MLB decided to go with tech-savvy Fanatics and Candy Digital, a move that makes a lot of sense from our perspective. Let's see if others will follow.
That's it for this weeks issue! And as always: Feel free to reach out for feedback and to discuss all things NFT and sports! And to stay up to date: Make sure to follow us on Instagram and Twitter for stats, drop announcements and more. And join us on our Discord server to discuss the latest news and insights about NFTs in sports.