Fantasy Football Game Sorare Doubled its User Base During Pandemic

Robert Hoogendoorn

2 years ago

Sorare launched its blockchain-powered fantasy football game last year on second-layer technology by Loom. However, recently they abandoned the layer-2 solution in favor of the Ethereum mainnet. At the same time COVID-19 caused all football matches to be cancelled, and yet the fantasy football game thrived. Dapp.Review sat down with CEO Nicolas Julia to talk about all these changes.

The project was launched last year on the Loom Plasmachain. Nicolas Julia described working with Loom as 'seamless', while its gas-free transactions were key. Unfortunately Loom never reached the maturity level required for mass adoption, and they abandoned their own project. Sorare had put the success of their project in third-party hands, and in the end it didn’t work out. "Once bitten, twice shy", the studio boss said. He didn't want to put the faith of his company in a second-layer solution that's not mature yet. Therefore he opted to run the fantasy football game on mainnet. He also emphasized the company's position on the future of Ethereum, as he wants to participate in the upcoming phases of Ethereum 2.0.

Since a couple of weeks the fantasy football game Sorare has been running on the Ethereum mainnet. During that time it gained support from Dapp.Review, while showing great numbers of trading volume. "We've seen a lot more interoperability with other decentralized applications, dapp aggregating platforms and others", Nicolas Julia said while looking back at the past few weeks. Even though the biggest negative point has been the tremendous increase in gas fees. Despite the high gas prices, Sorare keeps functioning as it always does. The company is paying all the gas fees on the platform, even though they are working on ways to optimize this. "We think it's essential to offer a gassless experience", the Sorare boss emphasized.

Sorare uses an interesting mechanic to deal with all the transfers. All ETH deposits and withdrawals happen on-chain into a general wallet address. The platform makes sure users only have access to their own money. When a user buys a card from another player, there's no on-chain transfer of ETH taking place. However, the card transfer does hebben on-chain. Each user has a wallet with private key, giving them complete ownership over their cards. When cards are being transferred, Sorare is taking care of all the gas fees. That way the platform offers a better user experience without the experience of gas fees.

Adapting is something that seems to be part of the DNA of the company. Sorare is based on player performances in real life football matches all over the world. However, due to COVID-19 all matches were cancelled or postponed. Within a few days the team introduced Replay Weeks to its community. During these pandemic impacted weeks randomly selected older game weeks were used to keep the game going. It turned out to be a golden move. "We've been able to grow despite the lack of Football. We had about 1500 monthly active users in March and in May we had 2700, so despite COVID-19 we've nearly doubled our user base.", Nicolas Julia told us. Active users are the ones actually playing the game. This doesn't require any blockchain activity. "We're however a lot more excited about the live games starting again now", he added.

On a daily basis there's an average of 210 transactions taking place. These can be players selling cards to each other, or Sorare auctioning newly minted cards. That's over six thousand transactions per month with a total value of more than 288 thousand dollars. On average the card price is around 50 dollars, but this number is pushed up by the more expensive super rare or unique cards. The highest individual card sale has been 3374 dollars for a one-of-a-kind Memphis Depay card. Sorare is also auctioning card packs, and the most expensive one was sold for over 13 thousand euros.

Prices for cards have been going up in recent weeks. A month ago the average trade was approximately 40 dollars, now it's over 50 dollars. Interest in the fantasy football game is growing. At the same time many national leagues have continued their matches, and therefore particular player cards are increasingly popular. Sorare also welcomed the entire South Korean K-League into their game. Not only does this open up the fantasy football game to an Asian market, but also does this secure continuity all year round. The South Korean competition takes place from May until November, while the European leagues start late August and normally end in June. "Our ambition is to build a global fantasy football game. We're planning on onboarding the top 20 leagues in the world, with leagues from South and North America, Asia, and Europe", the Sorare CEO said. In theory the concept of Replay Weeks won't make a return.

Sorare is still in its alpha phase, but they consider the 2020-2021 football season to be their first full-time season. They want to launch the season with three full leagues in the game, including the Belgian Jupiler League and the South Korean K-League. That's something Nicolas Julia is exciting about. But the company also wants to attract a bigger audience. That's why they are working on a mobile app and a more social experience for managers. Sorare will introduce new cards for the European football season during August 2020. As a tip for all those future fantasy football managers, Nicolas Julia said: "Right now, scout for the best players you think are going to shine next year in real life!"