Soccer Trading Cards and Fantasy Soccer Come to Blockchain Gaming - Fantasy Football on the Blockchain!
by R.A. Rowell
Stryking and FC Bayern Munich have come into a partnership to create digital collectibles based on the top German football team’s star players. Stryking was recently purchased by Animoca Brands, who seems bent on acquiring licenses to create licensed digital collectibles from every major brand on the planet they can. In particular, stryking.io is eyeing other major sports leagues and clubs to create “a global platform for blockchain-based digital collectibles centered around popular sports licenses…”
While this is hardly the first partnership to create NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) on blockchain technology of star sports players, it’s one of the first to feature the world’s most popular sport of football (known to us Americans as soccer.) Already, American sports leagues such as Major League Baseball (MLB) and the National Basketball Association (NBA) have licensed their own digital collectibles. Like with the MLB and NBA collectibles, these blockchain cards will be usable in a fantasy game called Football-Stars. Also, they will offer their owners true asset ownership and can be freely traded.
With the backing of one of the world’s top football clubs, Football-Stars appears poised for success. According to the CryptoNinja’s article on the Stryking football NFTs, players will create virtual lineups which they pit against other users. Then, based on either historical or real-time results, these blockchain cards can gain value based on the depicted players’ success. Then, these cards can be sold on the in-game marketplace. It’s like mainstream fantasy sports now, but you can profit from the results of your players right away.
Unsurprisingly, Stryking isn’t alone in bringing football trading cards and fantasy football to the blockchain. In fact, there’s already someone ahead of them..
Sorare’s Fantasy Football Game Backed by Gaming Giant Ubisoft
Gaming giant Ubisoft and DLT (blockchain) tech firm Sorare are working on their own official football cards, too. Like the Stryking game, these cards are usable in a fantasy football game, too. They are limited edition blockchain collectibles freely tradable among players. In fact, Sorare’s fantasy football game is already licensed by nearly 30 football clubs as of this writing. It’s in open beta and dozens of other football clubs are expected to join the game, too.
Sorare’s game is fairly simple. You build a team of five players and they earn you rewards based on their weekly performance. Also, players can earn bonus points based on the “power” of their individual blockchain cards. It appears to be a hit game already among football fans. With the worldwide appeal of football, there’s a chance for this game to be a massive mainstream success. That’s likely why Ubisoft got involved and brought Sorare into its Entrepreneur Labs program.
This author has believed from the beginning that fantasy sports built on blockchain trading cards would be a major key in helping blockchain gaming go mainstream. Stryking and Sorare look to be clear frontrunners in helping blockchain fantasy sports to become a worldwide phenomenon.
Sorare clearly has a leg up on the competition with their gaming giant backing. But with all of the major licenses that Animoca is buying up, you can’t count them out, either. These are going to be exciting projects to watch, especially with Stryking and its parent company Animoca Brands eyeing other major sports for their platform, too.
Are you a believer in blockchain fantasy sports? Which leagues or teams are you excited to see join the trend?
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Splinterlands is a Blockchain Trading Card Game Epitomizing What TCGs Must Become to Survive in a Changing World
by R.A. Rowell
As of this writing, I haven’t yet been able to play Splinterlands, but I have played another extremely popular crypto trading card game, Gods Unchained. There are some things about Splinterlands, however, that I believe will give it enduring success. Why did I decide to write about Splinterlands before even getting a chance to play?
There are key aspects that make Splinterlands different than many other blockchain trading card games before it. These things are exactly what current Trading Card Games need to adopt to succeed in a changing world where crypto is going to become a part of everyday life. Blockchain trading card games are becoming one of the top genres in crypto gaming for several reasons, many of which I will cover right now.
Splinterlands Runs on the Steem Blockchain
Many current popular blockchain games use the Ethereum blockchain to store their more valuable assets. While Ethereum is great, its network is really not designed to keep up with the number of transactions that popular games require. Ethereum is known to have an average transaction speed of 25 per second. That doesn’t sound like that many, and really, it isn’t.
Steem is a blockchain known to perform over 1,000 transactions per second. Tron is another blockchain often used for gaming applications that has boasted over 3,000 transactions per second. Gods Unchained has done OK simply because it hasn’t yet reached the number of transactions as far as cards being bought and sold to congest the Ethereum network on a regular basis. But for a truly popular trading card game - think of Magic the Gathering - to succeed on a blockchain, it needs a network that can perform thousands of transactions per second.
Splinterlands Has Its Own In-Game Currency
Even more interesting about Splinterlands is that it has its own in-game currency. Many games use their own tokens that can be bought and sold on the marketplace of the blockchain that game belongs to. But Splinterlands literally has DEC (Dark Energy Crystals), and while they exist as tokens on the Steem blockchain, their value will always remain the same and have no monetary value. Players can earn this currency just by winning ranked matches in the game, or by destroying unused cards, allowing players to earn enough to buy booster packs. .
In its beta, Gods Unchained has a similar play-to-earn system where you can play for free but earn raffle tickets with each win that can then be traded for Ethereum. Of course, these tickets have values that can fluctuate wildly, and of course lose value as more are put into the ecosystem. This can’t happen with DEC, which is Splinterlands’ own stable currency.
Splinterlands Sold Out 1.2 Million Packs Very Quickly Due to Proven Scarcity
Splinterlands has been wildly successful in selling cards, with 300,000 alpha packs sold out and 900.000 beta packs just recently selling out. How has this little crypto trading card game made over 1 million US dollars in marketplace sales already? First of all, the cards in these packs will never be made available again. Plus, because players can acquire in-game DEC currency from destroying cards they don’t need, many of these cards will be lost forever. Also, rarer cards can be acquired by leveling up other cards of the same type. So, now that these packs are sold out, these Alpha and Beta cards can only be acquired from other players.
Provable scarcity is perhaps the most important thing when it comes to blockchain trading card games. Even if a card is “reprinted” in a game, in that it’s functionally the same, it’s still not the same card. However, it does seem that blockchain trading card games are shying away from reprints - something that has plagued the secondary market value of cards in trading card games such as Magic the Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh.
Why Blockchain Trading Card Games Over Traditional Trading Card Games?
With popular trading card games like Magic the Gathering, the secondary market is sometimes hard to gauge. Cards that see substantial play competitively can see crazy price spikes. Then, there’s a lot of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) due to perceived scarcity, leading to wild price swings for certain cards. So, why doesn’t this happen in blockchain trading card games? Here’s why.
Right on the Splinterlands home page is a section entitled “Why Blockchain?” We’ve already mentioned provable scarcity, but what does that mean? Blockchains have ledgers with full transparency, so you can see exactly how many of each different card exist in the game. The comparison that Splinterlands makes is Hearthstone, which is a good example - since in that game you don’t know exactly how rare (or valuable) each of your cards actually is.
Another big upside to blockchain trading cards is true asset ownership. This is the major upside to digital blockchain collectibles in general. In games like Magic the Gathering Online or Hearthstone, your cards actually belong to the game. But on the blockchain, your cards actually belong to you. The only way they can be traded is with private keys, like with any other blockchain asset as with cryptocurrency. Even the game creators can’t take them from you. Like with physical trading cards, you actually own them. The difference is that you actually know the full chain of custody of that exact card and how many exist.
Also, blockchain trading card games have yet another upside that even physical trading card games can’t compete with: absolutely no tampering is possible. Every battle result and cards contained in packs are randomly generated by a published algorithm. That algorithm comes from unpredictable data on the blockchain itself. No one, not even the game creators, can tamper with any battle result or the contents of any pack. That means Splinterlands and other similar blockchain trading card games such as Gods Unchained are 100 percent provably fair.
Can Digital Trading Card Games Survive Without Moving Assets to the Blockchain?
One of the major issues I have with Magic the Gathering Arena, and the reason I don’t currently play it, is that you can’t trade your in-game cards with other players or sell them outside of the game. Even the much-maligned Magic the Gathering Online allows you to trade cards and even sell them in the game for event tickets which can be sold for cash to outside vendors. Hearthstone has a similar problem, in that the cards you acquire are bound to your account.
So, what if you don’t want to play Arena or Hearthstone anymore? Just either leave your cards there or go through the hassle of trying to sell your account. Basically, every dollar you put into the game is a dollar that’s forever gone. Sure, paying for entertainment is fine. But, I’ve never liked the idea of playing for cards that I don’t actually own. What if I lose access to my account? I have to start all over again. But with blockchain trading cards, you own the cards, even if the game ceases to exist!
The reason that MTGO still exists and I’ll still play with it from time to time is that I have successfully made a profit from the cards I’ve used in the game. It’s the main reason people used to play, because if you were good enough at drafting the right cards and really good at winning tournaments, you could actually grind out a ton of event tickets and other prizes. The prize structure makes it a bit harder to profit now, but it’s still possible.
Of course, MTGO’s business model is extremely antiquated. But, you can still trade cards. Still, most digital trading card games bind the cards you acquire to your account. They have no value outside of that particular application. But, blockchain trading cards are not just tradeable, they actually exist independent of the game. That means they remain as collectibles that you own. It’s even possible for those cards to eventually end up in some other game should the original game cease to be active.
The Future of Blockchain Trading Card Games is Bright
Blockchain trading card games are going to eventually unseat these other trading card giants. It would seem to be a prudent step for the owners of Magic the Gathering (Wizards of the Coast & Hasbro), Yu-Gi-Oh (Konami), Pokemon (Nintendo), and other trading card games to consider creating assets on the blockchain that they can introduce to their existing games over time. Gamers would love to own more of the things that they love. I know I’m not the only one who feels like these digital trading card games are just a cash grab for the sake of our entertainment.
Splinterlands, Gods Unchained, and similar crypto trading card games are the future of the genre. Heck, they may even supplant the TCGs of today as crypto gaming becomes more mainstream. I love Magic the Gathering, but their recent behavior of price gouging in the physical card market (no more MSRP) and the cash grab of Arena (cards bound to your individual account), I simply can’t support that game anymore. That’s why my focus has shifted to blockchain gaming, where the power and value really goes into the hands of the gamers and indie developers - where those things truly belong! Big gaming companies have to adapt or be left in the dust wondering why they didn’t see it coming.
Back to Splinterlands, the game does require that you purchase a starter pack (only $10 USD or equivalent crypto or other fiat currency) or have a promo code to get started. After that, it’s very possible to play to earn, just like I have with a Gods Unchained beta key.
Have you played Splinterlands, Gods Unchained, or other blockchain trading card games? What are your experiences with them? Do you think that blockchain TCGs will eventually make physical and other digital TCGs obsolete?
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by R.A. Rowell
In 2017, Thomas Hunt, also known as “Mad Bitcoins,” launched his blockchain collectibles project, Curio Cards. These limited edition blockchain collectibles followed the success of blockchain trading card game Spells of Genesis and Rare Pepe blockchain trading cards based on the meme Pepe the Frog (today it’s Rare Pepe Wallet). In 2019, Curio Cards are still being created and released - often limited to under 1000 copies, and sometimes limited to even just 200 to 400 copies each.RSS Feed
The creator of the digital trading cards project has long been himself a collector. Per the CurioCards website, he created this platform for artists and collectors that actually benefits artists. At the time, Curio Cards were very innovative, as these were among the very first ERC20 tokens purposely created to be limited edition and provably rare. Best of all, the entire chain of custody of each individual token is easily verified. Since then, there have been many collectibles created in this way, but Curio Cards was a pioneer in blockchain collectibles
Thomas Hunt was correct that blockchain collectibles would grow. The launch of the Enjin Marketplace, backed by the Enjin Coin and the Unity 3D powered games that use the related ERC20 tokens - has certainly helped Ethereum-based blockchain collectibles. But, other crypto collectibles marketplaces such as OpenSea and Rare Bits already existed. There’s definitely a healthy market for blockchain collectibles and it’s only growing.
Rare digital art has become a reality thanks to blockchain technology. But, so far, the trick is not only selling the initial offerings, but then creating a stable market afterwards. When new blockchain collectibles hit the market, hype usually causes a bunch to sell quickly, but the market quickly wanes afterward. Most recently, the most traded items are blockchain trading cards and collectibles that can be used in popular blockchain games.
So, the question facing the blockchain collectibles market for static items like digital art has been this: “How do we create or find new audiences to buy blockchain art?” The good news is that this question has a potential good answer. There seem to be a new wave of savvy investors who aren’t only into cryptocurrency itself, but also the tokens related to digital art and gaming projects, as well as the art and collectibles themselves. Of course, the tokens that investors are most interested in are those used in popular blockchain games, such as the trading cards in Gods Unchained.
However, people do like digital art. From an investment standpoint, because of the extremely limited nature of many of these blockchain collectibles, the scarcity creates opportnity, Of course, traditional art is seen as a valuable asset class. With digital art stored on the blockchain, pieces are still able to be enjoyed by the masses, but the holder of the token has true ownership. Also, blockchain collectibles can’t be counterfeited, a major drawback of traditional art. Who doesn’t want ot invest in something that’s counterfeit-proof and far less expensive than the traditional counterpart? Plus, it can’t easily be stolen and chain of custody is easily verified - so you know exactly where it’s been.
Also, for investors who don’t have a place to safely and securely store art, digital blockchain art is the perfect alternative. Best of all, artists get to benefit more than ever, since they can literally create art at will. The artists still retain their rights to the intellectual property and can issue “reprints” if they wish, since the originals are still proven originals as unique tokens..
Curio Cards will likely be one of a few current blockchain collectibles that will benefit from a new wave of blockchain collectible investors. The question isn’t if it will happen, it’s all a matter of when. When more people realize that they can own a piece of fine art that is a great place to store value just as with traditional artwork - but that can be easily bought and sold digitally - the digital art community will forever be transformed.
What do you think of the future of digital art as blockchain collectibles?
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by R.A. Rowell
Ever considered trying out a crypto trading card game? Blockchain trading cards are certainly growing in popularity, and blockchain trading card games are likely going to become a massive multi-million dollar industry. While there are several popular blockchain trading card games on the market currently, one of the most popular so far has been Gods Unchained.RSS Feed
The game, which appears similar to the popular Hearthstone game on the surface, has received $15 million in investments from a round of Series A financing. This funding was led by Naspers, who’s the largest shareholder of Tencent, currently the largest gaming company in the world), as well as Galaxy Digital and others. Clearly, there are plenty of people who are buying into blockchain trading card games having long lasting success.
The creator of the game, a company called Immutable, made the announcement of this funding on their Medium profile. They are major believers in the Ethereum blockchain holding the future of gaming. Apparently, plenty of other people agree with them. From my research, seeing the massive explosion in game development using Ethereum tokens, I would have to agree, as well.
Gods Unchained is already famous for having auctioned off the second most expensive trading card (digital or otherwise) of all time. This card, Hyperion, sold for over $60,000 worth of Ethereum! They’ve sold five million cards in just over a year. Plus, they even hired away the former director of Magic the Gathering: Arena - a game which not only doesn’t involve the blockchain, but doesn’t even allow in-game trading. It’s very possible Gods Unchained becomes the Magic the Gathering of blockchain trading card games.
Gods Unchained is free to play and currently in beta. You need to be invited to get in, but if you're interested in trying it you're welcome to use my beta key!
What do you think of blockchain trading card games? Is there a favorite you’ve found already? What do you think of trading cards on the Ethereum blockchain?
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R.A. Rowell is a collectibles enthusiast who comes from a long history of collecting trading cards in both sports and in Trading Card Games. He is passionate about educating the world about the future promise and benefits of digital collectibles, both on the blockchain and off.
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