Major League Baseball (MLB) is releasing an Ethereum-based, digital, collectible game in late summer 2018. The MLB, in partnership with blockchain gaming company, Lucid Sights, hopes to boost baseball fandom with the potentially ground-breaking dApp, “MLB Crypto Baseball.”
MLB Crypto Baseball will be similar to blockchain’s most popular game, CryptoKitties, where users buy and trade digital kittens, using Ethereum. In CryptoKitties, explained by the New York Times,
“Each kitty has a core DNA on the blockchain, and the game is basically to mate them (the illustrators do not go deep into specifics) and see what kitty results.”
The rarer the traits produced, the more valuable the kitten. The most expensive cat ever sold went for 253.33 ETH, approximately $110,000 at the time. Overall, users have spent over $25 million on the digital collectible.
While digital assets have clearly demonstrated themselves to be a lucrative business, the MLB’s main goal in introducing the Ethereum-based game is to attract young people back to baseball.
Kenny Gersh, MLB’s executive VP of gaming and new business ventures stated:
“That is 100% one of the strategic goals of this initiative. Collecting items related to your team, engaging with your team in a new way. These will be event-based things—those moments in sports that happen that you want to remember and cherish, and have a sense that you were there, even if only digitally.”
In theory, the game makes perfect sense. On one hand, the digital assets are similar to the baseball cards and memorabilia that once proliferated amongst older generations of baseball fans. On the other, the rare digital collectibles are similar to things like “skins” in the wildly popular game Fortnite.
If all goes to plan, the release of the dApp in late summer will reinvigorate baseball enthusiasts and help prevent the average game attendance from declining for a third straight year.
If the current average attendance of 28,543 holds, it will be the first time below 30,000 since 2003.
Crypto and Sports
While the MLB is the first league to fully endorse a blockchain product, they are not the first American sports entity to begin to adoption. The Sacramento Kings of the NBA, considered one of the most tech-savvy franchises in all of sports, accepted Bitcoin for tickets and merchandise since 2014.
On June 27th, 2018, the Kings went one step further and announced a new charitable program, MiningForGood, that will start mining Ethereum to support charitable causes. The Kings intend to use proceeds from mining for groups such as the Build.Black.Coalition, and continues the franchise’s strong tradition of giving back to the community.
The Kings owner, Vivek Ranadive, is a self-professed “superfan” of Ethereum and its clear those around him are optimistic too. Sacramento’s CTO, Ryan Montoya stated:
“We know blockchain is going to revolutionize the world. So, how can we be ahead of the curve and start to utilize blockchain in different parts of the business?”
Baseball fans are not the first sport that CryptoKitties is trying to reach – a Stephen Curry-inspired kitty was recently produced the first celebrity-branded crypto kitty.
Across the Atlantic, London soccer club, Arsenal FC, announced the first official partnership between a major sports team and a cryptocurrency firm back in January 2018. Through the deal, Arsenal receives an undisclosed amount of money, while CashBet, a betting platform, gains access to the millions of Arsenal fans worldwide.