The collectible soccer card game Sorare NFT has entered into a multi-year license agreement with the Premier League.
Sorare, the $4.3 billion fantasy football game, has signed a multi-year deal with the Premier League to provide official player cards for the world’s top soccer league.
Players of the game will be able to purchase and use official Premier League licensed NFTs under an exclusive multi-year agreement.
Paris-based startup Sorare, which has 3 million users worldwide, lets people compete in five-team fantasy football. Chances of success are based on the performance of the players on the field in real time.
Sorare said it is also launching two new features in the game. These include the ability to compete against player cards in leagues and a “financial fair play” feature that prevents users from selecting all-star teams.
Sorare are rumored to be in talks for the first time with the Premier League – the top tier of English men’s football – for a licensing deal in October 2022. Sorare CEO Nicolas Giulia said the case had taken longer than expected because the Premier League had an existing NFT licensing deal with another firm.
Sky News previously reported that the deal was worth £30m. Yulia refused to provide details about the financial terms and duration of the deal.
The news comes despite a sharp drop in NFT trading activity.
The prices of NFTs — or non-fungible tokens — have plummeted amid the fall in crypto prices, known as the “cryptozyme,” which has been exacerbated in recent months by the bankruptcy of major exchange FTX.
According to CryptoSlam, the average selling price of an NFT in December 2022 was $143.22, down 63% from $383.73 in December 2021.
Trading volumes also dropped significantly. Total NFT sales fell 78% to $678.2 million in December from $3.1 billion a year ago.
Julia said Sorare is “very different from the rest of the space.” The total volume of cards exchanged on the platform was $500 million last year, almost doubling from $270 million in 2021.
However, the company has seen a shift in usage with players more inclined to use a “free to play” mode where they don’t have to compete with paid cards.
About 87% of Sorare players “don’t even spend money on the platform,” Julia said.
There was an obvious question about the sustainability of Sorare’s model: How does it make money if most of its users don’t transact?
For her part, Julia said high-spending power users are enough to solidify profits. Sorare takes an unspecified portion of all transactions through its service.
It should be noted that according to CryptoSlam, Sorare is the third largest collection of NFTs in the world. The firm processes about $1 million worth of transactions in 24 hours, CryptoSlam figures show.
The Premier League’s partnership with Sorare adds a host of deals between sports leagues and crypto platforms.
Sorare himself has previously announced deals with Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association.
Some deals, such as Crypto.com’s naming rights deal for the Staples Center arena in Los Angeles and FTX’s defunct sponsorship of the Miami-Dade Arena, have soured amid falling crypto prices.
Giulia said Sorare was shielded from the fallout from the collapse of crypto-focused sports advertising because his firm focuses on intellectual property licensing rather than sponsorships.
Investors last valued the French startup at $4.3 billion in September 2021. Sorare is supported by leading names, including Japanese ones SoftBank and venture capital firms Accel and Benchmark. Sports stars Lionel Messi, Serena Williams and Kylian Mbappe are also shareholders.
Sorare was not without controversy and was accused of encouraging gambling.
The UK Gambling Commission is investigating the firm “to determine whether Sorare.com requires a license to operate and whether the services it provides do not constitute gambling,” according to a statement dated October 8, 2021.
Julia said she could not yet provide an update on the investigation process in the UK.
In November, the startup committed to making some changes to its platform following action taken by France’s National Gaming Authority. These included enhancing the free game elements. The company must implement these measures by March 31.
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