Players from the top tier of South Korea’s K League are now etched in digital history as tradable player tokens on the Ethereum blockchain thanks to a deal inked with a company called Sorare. Players in the top tier of the league are now available, but the fantasy soccer game doesn’t charge participants any money to get started. Both the league and the company managing the blockchain project are hoping that both digital collectibles and the K League itself gain popularity as a result of the deal.
More on the Sorare Blockchain Project
While the deal is a groundbreaking first for the K League, it’s not Sorare’s first deal with a major soccer league. Juventus, Napoli and Atletico Madrid players are already available on the platform. Collectors of these player tokens are already cashing in too. Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo’s digital token is currently selling for more than €14,000 worth of cryptocurrency.
Sorare Skirts Regulatory Concerns Surrounding Gambling and Crypto in South Korea
Although some countries around the world are still slowly coming around to cryptocurrency in terms of understanding how to regulate it and allowing individuals to have access to it above board, South Korea has always been one of the more progressive countries in terms of the way the government and its people view Bitcoin and digital assets.
There is, however, one unique challenge in South Korea. That is that online gambling is strictly regulated and many forms of gambling are considered highly illegal. And yet, the Sorare platform is allowed to do business in Korea because the company has a unique approach to getting players involved. Each player who signs up for the platform gets access to five players for free.
Those five players can be used to play in fantasy contests against other players. Kind of like the way daily fantasy sports companies in North America allow savvy gamblers to compile fantasy teams based on North American sports leagues.
That’s actually what keeps Sorare’s project perfectly legal in South Korea. Players can certainly lose money by purchasing tokens that go down in value, but it doesn’t cost them to start playing in the first place, so it’s not considered gambling.
Player Tokens are Profitable
Given Ronaldo’s token is selling for €14,000 as noted above, it’s obvious trading digital collectibles is becoming big business. But just because players can start playing for free doesn’t mean there isn’t an incentive for them to take a risk and spend money. With the player token platform introduced by Sorare, transaction fees go to the blockchain, so it’s not as if the company is making money off of those fees necessarily. Where the money really comes in is within the gameplay itself.
While it’s true that each K League collector participating in the fantasy games on the Sorare platform gets five player tokens for free, those player tokens usually have low-scoring attributes based on real-life athletes who are still working on their game.
This means, as a participant, if you own a team of player tokens that you didn’t have to pay for and you go up against a stacked roster of the players that your opponent actually paid to acquire, you are less likely to win.
If you want to win, you either need to gamble on the real-life performance of your players or you need to acquire better players. Although there are just 3,000 monthly active users regularly using the Sorare platform right now, those users are connected to 100 different soccer clubs and they spent over $200,000 in June 2020 alone with the platform. Those are pretty good sales numbers for a project still in its infancy.
Where Will Digital Sports Tokens Go Next?
Gamifying digital athlete tokens is the next frontier of collecting in fantasy gaming. The sports world is already seeing athletes like Colombian national star James Rodriguez create their own tokens allowing fans to connect with their personal brands. All the sports world needs now is to have more and more people get on the digital token bandwagon and understand the value of collecting digital assets and not just traditional sports memorabilia or trading cards.
Sports gamblers looking to think outside the box and try making a profit outside of sportsbooks and wagering should definitely consider digital tokens. It’s the 2.0 of betting in collecting. The perfect mix for money-hungry, tech-savvy sports fans with a penchant for risk and reward.