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NFT and esports: One of the most promising collaborations of 2022

NFT — a one-of-a-kind digital asset — keep conquering more and more buyers. According to a 2020 report from L’Atelier BNP Paribas and nonfungible.com, the total value of NFT sales in 2020 was about $250 million. In the meantime, in Q3 2021, NFT sales volume surged to $10.7 billion (according to market tracker DappRadar). The industry is picking up, and its growth shows no sign of subsiding.

Esports is another promising industry that has reached a milestone in 2021, and brought over $1 billion in revenue (according to Statista data). Plus, Statista forecasts that the industry market revenue will reach $1.6 billion in 2024.

So let’s find out what 2022 will bring to these two industries, and why cooperation is a good idea for both of them.


NFT enriches the gaming experience by allowing players to really own in-game assets and take them beyond a particular game.
WePlay Holding

Why are the two industries interested in each other?

Similar digital-native audiences

Esports is closer to the virtual world than other industries. Fans can attend tournaments online and communicate with fellow fans through Discord or Twitch, and watch content on streaming platforms instead of the TV. It’s easier for them to get things online without wasting their time. So, if they can get digital art at once, why not do it?

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Asian Markets Mixed After Wall St Gains As Inflation Fears EaseNFT, in turn, only exists in the digital world. NFT owners build exclusive communities such as the Pudgy Penguins community. When you buy an NFT from the collection, you also get access to a shared Discord server or a private Telegram channel.

Stability during a global downturn

COVID-19 has affected all industries and put the entire world into lockdown. Traditional sports canceled all events, while galleries and museums closed. However, the esports industry simply postponed offline tournaments, and switched to an all-digital format.

Due to COVID-19, collectors started exploring a brand-new branch of the art market, NFT. According to nonfungible.com, Ethereum-based NFT sales expanded from $17.4 million to almost $1.3 billion between Q2 2020 and Q2 2021.

Mutually beneficial cooperation

The most profitable sector of NFT is collectibles, and collecting is something that many fans have in common. Fans of the entertainment industry buy T-shirts at concerts or ask football players to sign posters.

Like sports fans used to buy basketball cards, esports fans are now gathering digital collectibles. The fact that digital art cannot be placed in a drawer or hung like a poster on the wall doesn’t scare the fans away. Now they can get memorabilia from any esports tournament online, without negotiating with strangers on the internet or looking for the least tattered card.

NFT enriches the gaming experience by allowing players to really own in-game assets and take them beyond a particular game. Also, non-fungible tokens are another opportunity for teams to engage their fanbase. An esports organization can release an autograph collection or animated clutch moments. Even when fans don’t get to meet their favorites face-to-face, they still can feel part of the tremendous esports world.

Esports and NFT collaboration cases in 2021

Esports organizations and crypto world representatives keep partnering and surprising communities on both sides with sensational news.

The most expensive partnership deal in esports

In 2021, North American esports organization TSM signed a deal with cryptocurrency exchange and NFT platform FTX. Now, the team has to change its name to TSM FTX. In return, they’re getting paid $210 million. The FTX and TSM collaboration can be considered the largest deal in esports history. Partnerships of this kind will likely become a trend in the upcoming year.

Crypto platforms are shifting from sports to esports

Unlike TSM, Fnatic Rising, a London-based esports team, didn’t change its name when it signed a deal with Crypto.com. Crypto.com, a crypto and NFT platform, has entered into a multi-year, $15-million contract to become the team’s inaugural Global Cryptocurrency Partner. For the crypto platform, this is the first experience integrating into esports, but its partner portfolio includes well-known sports organizations UFC, Formula 1®, Lega Serie A, Aston Martin Cognizant Formula 1, and Montreal Canadiens.

The first NFT Trophy for the runner-up team

WePlay Collectibles, WePlay Holding’s NFT project, marked a first, awarding the runner-up team instead of the winner, which had never happened in esports history. NAVI Junior, who lost to mouz NXT in the final of the WePlay Academy League Season 2, got the NFT Trophy intended to encourage the young team’s efforts. Besides providing a nice way to support up-and-coming players, WePlay Collectibles has shown another way esports can use NFT — as trophies and awards.

NAVI Junior NFT trophy
NAVI Junior, who lost to mouz NXT in the final of the WePlay Academy League Season 2, got the NFT Trophy intended to encourage the young team’s efforts.
WePlay Holding

Trend forecast for 2022

The year 2021 showed us how well these two digital industries can interact. Moreover, they have the ability to move each other forward and bring about new fascinating collaborations, to the delight of fans of both NFT and esports. NFT broadens fans’ experience by allowing them to interact with esports, their fave teams, and games.

NFT empowers esports and enables esports organizations, game publishers and event organizers to use NFTs as part of their business model to offer clients added value, monetize fan bases and increase engagement. Such a powerful tool must be used for industry development. Although to produce an eye-catching collaboration, esports representatives should understand how to use NFT and for what reasons.

Sure enough, the following year will bring more NFT and esports content. Judging by Yieldly’s statements, the next step in a close partnership between the two industries will be the launch of an esports-focused NFT marketplace called Yesports.gg. By 2022, fans will be able to interact with different esports teams through an all-in-one platform. Other already announced joint projects, such as MoonPay and FaZe, back the idea that the partnership between esports and NFT is not only promising but also reliable.

There are dozens of ways to use NFT in esports. NFTs are a way to unite the esports community, engage with it through cutting-edge technology, and take the interaction up a level. It’s logical to assume that the two digital-native sectors will closely cooperate and bring into reality more crazy ideas in 2022. Meanwhile, stay tuned to be the first to know about the next big trend in the NFT market.

(Alena Dalskaya-Latosiewicz is chief communications officer at the esports group WePlay Holding and project lead at WePlay Collectibles.)

This article first appeared in IBTimes US. Read the article here.

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