Major League Baseball (MLB) has announced that it will be partnering with Lucid Sight, a Los Angeles-based blockchain startup, to create a CryptoKitties-inspired MLB digital collectibles game on the Ethereum blockchain.
‘MLB Crypto Baseball’ is a new DApp game which will allow, “users to pay in ether to buy digital avatars tied to specific moments in recent games,” reports Yahoo Finance. “They can then sell the items, or in some cases, earn rewards and stickers.”
As stated above, the new MLB Crypto Baseball game draws direct inspiration from the famous CryptoKitties game wich launched in November of last year. In one of the more amusing stories of the last 12 months, the popularity of CryptoKitties almost single-handedly brought the entire Ethereum network to a crawling speed, creating a state of crisis among Ethereum supporters. Yahoo Finance reports that users have spent $25 million worth of Ether on CryptoKitties to date.
“We talked a long time ago about bitcoin and whether we should accept it as payment for MLB.tv and some of our other products, and we opted not to,” says Kenny Gersh, the MLB’s executive VP of gaming and new business ventures. “At the end of the day we decided that isn’t our business, we’re not in the speculation business. We’re in the business of delivering baseball to fans. So this game is a more interesting intersection of blockchain technology and what we do.”
Gersh says that the MLB was already considering partnering with Lucid Sight in creating a game when CryptoKitties was first released. The success of CryptoKitties is reported to have given the the MLB the necessary assurance to greenlight Crypto Baseball.
Gersh goes on to explain that MLB Crypto Baseball is an attempt to recapture the attention of baseball fans. The MLB has been facing staggeringly low attendance at games this year, and is seeking new ways to excite fans.
“That is 100% one of the strategic goals of this initiative,” said Gersh. “Collecting items related to your team, engaging with your team in a new way. For me, say the Red Sox win the division in a couple months, I want to buy something that symbolizes that. 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.”
There has appeared to be a recent growing interest by professional sports in cryptocurrency. Last month the NBA’s Sacramento Kings announced that they would begin mining Ether and donating the mining rewards to charity, and yesterday Unhashed reported on ex-football star, Ronaldhino, launching his very own cryptocurrency advertising itself as the “common currency of the soccer world.”
However, Yahoo Finance concludes its article noting that MLB Crypto Baseball might have trouble getting off the ground “given the steep learning curve” users are required to undergo in order to play the game. Even before they can play MLB Crypto Baseball, users will first need to buy ether and then transfer it to a web plug-in called MetaMask.
Lucid Sight cofounder Octavio Herrera addressed these concerns, stating:
“We are not building this just for tech savvy people. That said, the game will roll out in stages. So yes, for version 1 you will need ether, you will need MetaMask, it will be a little bit difficult to get into. But I do think people will open up Coinbase accounts, buy some ether, and transfer it to MetaMask, in order to collect these things they’ll enjoy so much.”