NFTs are infiltrating numerous industries, with both major sports leagues and betting companies increasingly drawn towards the emerging digital assets, although this has not gone unnoticed by regulators.
Shortly after assuming his position as Head of Sales at Sorare, the providers of an NFT-based digital fantasy football platform, Dan Sormaz discussed sports’ engagement with the blockchain with Insider Sport, whilst detailing how the Parisian firm designs its product to function as a fantasy game and not as a form of gambling.
Insider Sport – For our readers who are new to NFTs and blockchain, can you give us an overview of how Sorare’s digital fantasy football platform works?
Dan Sormaz– Because it is something completely new, I tend to explain it as a combination of things that people are already familiar with. At its core, it can be described as a fantasy football game built on top of digital trading cards in the form of NFTs.
Our users, or managers as we like to call them, start by collecting their Sorare cards, which are officially licensed digital trading cards representing real-life players. With their cards, they can then build and manage their own club, putting their passion and knowledge of the game to the test.
Managers play their teams in Sorare’s fantasy game, where they can compete globally twice a week and connect with other managers on the platform. If they perform well, they can earn rewards, like new cards, merchandising, and even things like tickets to games or meet and greets with players.
NFTs add an extra dimension to the whole thing because you own all of your cards, and the technology this experience is built upon enables our community to interact in any way they see fit. Managers are sharing cards they’ve unlocked, analysing strategies, and even trading cards with each other all outside of our platform.
IS – Concerns have been raised in the UK that Sorare’s platform could be classed as gambling, how does the product’s design affirm its non-gambling status?
DS – Sorare is a new and unique product and so understandably regulators may be interested in how it fits into existing paradigms (or not). With that said, we firmly believe that Sorare isn’t a gambling platform.
Much like the traditional trading card world I grew up with, we do have collectibles that fans can buy, trade and sell. However, there’s no requirement to pay anything to play the fantasy game and if users do choose to play, they are never at risk of losing their cards regardless of how well they do.
It’s very important that Sorare is a compelling product for players of all levels. This includes those who just want to play for fun and those who want to own a piece for themselves.
IS – How much has digital engagement evolved within sport in recent years?
DS – Digital engagement in sports has evolved massively. More and more interactions are moving online, and local fan bases are turning into global communities.
As a result, there is an inherent desire for deeper and more connected digital experiences between fans and their favourite leagues, clubs and athletes. Fans don’t want to engage with football games passively, they want to participate and invest in what they love.
We believe that by reinventing sports collectibles and fantasy football in the digital space, we’re helping satisfy those desires.
IS – Is effective and high quality design arguably the most important factor when creating an NFT-based entertainment product?
DS – As a designer, I can’t help but believe that it plays a critical role. From the way you interact with our product, to the visuals on the card, to those spontaneous moments of delight, there’s just an endless amount of opportunities to differentiate your product from every other product through design.
It’s an exciting time for my team because many of the design patterns that have already been established in more mature sectors have yet to be established here. There’s just an endless amount of innovation that has yet to be unlocked.
IS – With athletes and teams across multiple sports increasingly leveraging NFTs, can Sorare’s product be expanded beyond football to other team-based sports?
DS – I’m very confident that this is possible and we have plans to do so in the coming year. In just a short amount of time, Sorare has already proven hugely successful within football, with over 1.5 million users and partnerships with over 240 football clubs and leagues, including the likes of LaLiga, Bundesliga and MLS.
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