Mobile-based fantasy RPG Guild of Guardians (GOG) is set to introduce new playable NFT characters based on the IP of eight popular professional esports teams, the company announced on Thursday.
Users will be able to play as characters based on Cloud9, NAVI, Ninjas in Pyjamas, NRG, SK Gaming, T1, and Team Liquid IP esports teams, following the signing of multi-year partnerships with GOG. Around half of the NFTs will be available for sale, with the rest earned through playing the game.
Esports as an industry has been growing rapidly over the past few years. While it hasn't quite reached the $3 billion in revenues predicted by Goldman Sachs in 2018, according to gaming analytics company Newzoo, esports will generate nearly $1.38 billion in revenues globally in 2022. It also predicts an 8.7% year-on-year audience growth that will hit 532 million.
Developed by Stepico Games and published by Immutable Studios, GOG isn’t the only web3 and crypto company tapping into esports. In June last year, Sam Bankman-Fried's cryptocurrency exchange FTX paid a staggering $210 million for the naming rights to esports organization TSM, not TSM FTX. The ten-year deal was worth more than the $135 million deal the company also signed for the naming rights to the home arena of the NBA team Miami Heat.
In June this year, Coinbase also signed a "multi-million dollar deal" to become the main partner of Berlin International Gaming's (BIG) Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team. Although it was already a BIG sponsor, this latest deal knocked Betway off the center of team's jersey, which is now emblazoned with the Coinbase logo.
“While not all esports fans know or care about web3 today, these two sectors align perfectly and complement each other in multiple ways. Some studies show that one in four esport fans already own an NFT," Derek Lau, VP and game director at Guild of Guardians, told The Block.
Digital and streaming are currently the fastest growing revenue streams for the industry, but Lau believes it's ripe for disruption, claiming esports IP fails to generate substantial revenue and instead leaves teams relying on sponsorships.
"As a result, many professional teams struggle to monetize or turn a significant profit,” he said.
But Lau added that for GOG, this isn’t a pivot away from fantasy to sports.
“These partnerships will allow our team and platform to widen and bolster its reach, exposure, and engagement with existing and new esports fans… Gaming and esports are two sectors that have much in common, including their overlapping user bases and inherent engagement models," he said.
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