The National Basketball Association (NBA) continues its Web3 push with a collaboration with Sorare for Sorare: NBA, an officially-licensed NFT fantasy NBA game.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) has teamed up with Sorare, the Web3 startup behind NFT-based soccer and Major League Baseball (MLB) fantasy sports games, to launch Sorare: NBA, an officially-licensed NFT fantasy NBA game. The fantasy NBA game will co-exist with Dapper Labs’ NBA Top Shot and NBA’s The Association project.
Like other NFT games from Sorare, players of Sorare: NBA can buy and sell digital cards representing NBA players. They can also put together lineups of players and earn points based on real-life performances.
More about Sorare: NBA
French startup Sorare is well-known for spearheading the emergence of NFT gaming and digital sports collectibles with its Ethereum-based fantasy soccer platform. Recently, the firm collaborated with the MBL to expand into baseball with an official MLB game.
This time around, Sorare is entering the NBA Top Shot’s turf with the upcoming launch of Sorare: NBA, an official NBA fantasy basketball game. Sorare created the NFT fantasy basketball game in collaboration with the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA).
Through Sorare: NBA’s platform, users can collect and use Ethereum NFT cards based on professional players from the league. And just as it is with Sorare’s soccer and baseball NFT games, users of Sorare: NBA can form a lineup using the NFT players they own and enter leagues that offer ETH and NFT card rewards to top performers.
Sorare: NBA will function similarly to the soccer and baseball platforms in providing a free-to-play experience for users who opt not to buy NFTs. Sorare plans to launch Sorare: NBA in time for the 2022-2023 season of the NBA, which starts on October 18.
Sorare is stingy in revealing details about the platform. Still, its head of business development Michael Meltzer said in an interview that there would be glaring differences in card rarity levels and tournament scheduling depending on the format and pace of the pro basketball league.
A Different Kind of Ballgame with Sorare: NBA
With the NFT fantasy NBA platform, Sorare is getting into a different kind of ballgame. The startup is practically knocking horns with Dapper Labs, which produced the officially-licensed, video-based NFT collectibles platform NBA Top Shot on the Flow blockchain. NBA Top Shot is credited with bringing NFTs into the mainstream when it surged in popularity in early 2021. To date, it has topped $1 billion in sales.
Although Sorare set the stage for official pro soccer and baseball NFTs with its platform, it is yet to establish whether it can yield something as big as NBA Top Shot with Sorare: NBA. Nevertheless, Meltzer is bullish that Sorare’s approach as an interactive game instead of a platform focused on stockpiling collectibles would set the Sorare: NBA NFT fantasy NBA platform apart from Dapper Labs’ NBA Top Shot.
“We don’t look at NFTs as a market—we see NFTs more as a technology,” Meltzer said. “We think we have a very unique offering, and we have our own category that we’ve created through our [soccer] product. We think our success that we’ve had to date will translate well into the NBA and is very distinct from anything in the marketplace.”
The NBA and Web3
For a league with a reputation for being tech-savvy, the NBA is doubling up on its Web3 efforts. It was the first major American sports league to journey into the NFT space with NBA Top Shot. Since then, it has launched several NFT collectibles on Ethereum, like The Association and WNBA’s proof-of-attendance tokens.
The NBA and WNBA also collaborated with Coinbase during the 2021-2022 season in a multi-year deal that was included in a broader 7,300% increase in year-over-year cryptocurrency sponsorship spending in the league.
Matt Holt, the NBA’s senior VP of global partnerships, admitted in an interview that the league is still in the “very early days” of its Web3 journey. The goal is not to inundate its NFT efforts but look for different ways to engage its younger audience, most of whom are under 35 years old.
“We want to be really thoughtful about who we partner with and the types of products that we put out there,” said Holt. “NBA Top Shot has been amazing and will continue to be amazing. And our partnership with Sorare is a new, distinct NFT-based fantasy foray into the space.”
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