French startup Sorare originally launched a fantasy football (soccer) game. This year, the company is expanding to new sports. After partnering with Major League Baseball earlier this year, the company is announcing a new partnership with the National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Basketball Players Association (NBPA).
Thanks to this multiyear partnership, Sorare will launch an officially licensed NFT-based fantasy basketball game this fall. It will be called… Sorare: NBA.
Like other Sorare games, players will be able to buy and sell digital cards representing basketball players. Users can then put together lineups of basketball players and earn points based on real-life performances.
This isn’t the first NFT experiment for the NBA. Dapper Labs has turned memorable NBA moments into non-fungible tokens with its game NBA Top Shot. Users buy and sell these top shots — the value of these digital collectibles can go up and down over time.
It’s going to be interesting to see how Sorare attracts new players for its NBA game. Right now, Sorare has two million registered users, but most of them are based in Europe and Asia. While Sorare signed a deal with Major League Soccer so that it could add the U.S. soccer league to its game, basketball and baseball are much more popular than soccer in the U.S.
The startup could attract existing NBA Top Shot users. Some of Sorare’s existing users could also be interested in basketball. More generally, the startup’s expansion to basketball represents a great opportunity to find new users in the U.S.
Last year, Sorare reached a valuation of $4.3 billion when it announced a $680 million Series B funding round. SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2 led the round with Atomico, Bessemer Ventures, D1 Capital, Eurazeo, IVP and Liontree also participating.
Behind the scenes, Sorare cards are Ethereum-based non-fungible tokens. The company partnered with Starkware to switch over to ZK rollup. This way, transaction fees remain low and users can buy and sell cards more rapidly. Sorare generates revenue by issuing new cards on the platform. Players can then buy those new cards and add them to their collection.