NFTs can push the esports arena forward if we design experiences as fan-centric from the ground up.
Domain leaders ranging from esports clubs to blockchain platforms show us how to integrate utilities, improve engagement, and educate fans so that NFTs change esports for the better in the future.
NFTs as esports collectibles
NFTs typically function as collectibles. Fans collect memorable moments of sports events as NFTs on marketplaces. Some platforms also allow fans to mint their own favorite memorabilia.
In this regard, IKONIC’s vision highlights which role NFTs can play in the future of esports. It’s a platform that collaborates with influencers and esports stars. The platform has a “trim clip” feature that allows gamers to turn any in-game moment into a video NFT. Gamers can mint their own in-game iconic moments this way or collect moments from their favorite stars on the NFT marketplace.
Pro players can generate new revenue streams thanks to NFT royalties. They can also expand their fan base with NFTs by offering unique perks to casual gamers.
Esports NFTs facilitate new ways of fan engagement
Expanding fan base with NFTs is a recurring theme in esports.
First of all, from fans’ viewpoints, NFTs can serve as VIP club membership cards. Esports fans can then unlock access to exclusive spaces to get closer to their teams, also participate in special IRL events, and gain rewards.
Brands can invent novel ways of engaging fans to generate new revenue streams. Moreover, they can attract new demographics, as gen Y and gen Z gamers are usually technically savvy and already experienced with NFTs.
A pioneer in esports fan engagement is Yesports. It focuses on web3-based fan-to-team experiences. The platform partnered with leading esports clubs, such as Infinity, Fact Revolution, and BOOM, and serves over 500M fans worldwide. Built on the primary utility and governance token YESP, its ecosystem will allow fans to earn staking and LP rewards, as well as participate in other stake-to-engage programs. The upcoming metaverse will be home to live streams and exclusive team events. Fans will have access to fully customizable avatars and engagement-based reward programs.
Esports revenue diversification through NFTs
Another unique service of Yesports is “customizable fan memberships,” which help esports clubs to release tailor-made rewards and experiences for their fans. For example, they can offer IP merchandise only in their Yesports stores.
Revenue diversification is an essential factor influencing the future of esports-centric NFTs. Solutions like custom fan memberships are paving the way.
Other tools to diversify existing revenue streams include token-gated access to behind-the-scenes footage and exclusive interviews.
Educating fans about NFTs
It’s no secret that many esports players are distrustful of NFTs, or they even hate them. Although very innovative, the crypto space has no shortage of rug pulls and other malicious activities.
Nevertheless, a recent study by the National Research Group revealed that 64% of fans are open to learning about NFTs and would consider buying an NFT in the future. Breaking fans’ resistance through training programs can be the way forward.
An esports organization, Team Vitality, has recently launched a mobile application called V.Hive in partnership with Tezos. It’s a support-to-earn app designed to educate the Team Vitality community about web3. The partners will accomplish this by enabling easy onboarding of fans and giving them the tools to create their digital identities.
Adding free NFTs to the mix
Some gamers are also against NFTs because they believe NFTs are only about making money and not having fun.
Consider the experiment done by 100 Thieves. The esports organization gave away 300,000 NFTs to its community but didn’t mention the name NFT in the announcement. Instead, the company called them “commemorative digital collectibles.” The idea was to emphasize that the organization was by no means aiming at making money from resales. The only purpose was to distribute gifts to the community.
100 Thieves collection helped remove some negative connotations associated with NFTs. It also educated mainstream fans about crypto wallets and highlighted the key role of free NFTs in the future of esports.