Loron Orris, AST’s Founding Partner recently moderated the panel “NFT (R)Evolution: From Collectibles and Gamification to Fan Relationship Management” at Stadia Ventures‘ Web3.0 Innovation Summit. One of the panelists Michael Thomas, Business Director of Sport at Animoca Brands shared his insights on the evolution, challenges and future opportunities in developing sports NFTs. (Watch the panel and read the panel highlights here)

To further the discussion, AST asked Michael to share additional details on Animoca’s roadmap and future plans on growing their brand in the sports industry.

On how he is leading Animoca Brands’ push into the sports industry:

“I oversee the sports side of Animoca Brands working with big brands. Animoca is very much all about keeping Web 3 open, and the way I see that is obviously working with the sports IPs and rights holders and also allowing all the sports fans to benefit from what we can offer through NFTs, plates, and the Metaverse.”


On how Animoca Brands is bridging the gap between sports and blockchain:

Animoca Brands’ key partnerships/investments in Sports include:

“Animoca started with our investment into Dapper Labs quite a few years ago. That’s how we got involved in blockchain, knowing they had always been into gaming.”

“From a sports perspective, the ethos is that we want to try and be open and we want to allow all fans to be part of this world and allow them to experience what we can offer. From a gaming point of view, we have created a blockchain game – REVV Racing where people are playing to earn. There aren’t many IPs involved in that currently except for the actual competitions. What that says is that people are actually into gaming and that’s what we’re trying to bridge; the gaming and the sport, and it’s an interesting world. We are talking to some of the big brands, and big rights holders there and they are cautious as it is still very early.”

“Everyone should jump in but if they need it, Animoca is here to help. That’s what I believe Animoca is all about, we want to work with all the partners, all our friends out there because that is what the open metaverse is about. It’s about allowing people to work together and experience that world together. And with the plateau and gaming, that’s just another element of that world. We feel like we are helping with the economy all while allowing people to have fun by doing things that they like to do such as sports.”

On how The Sandbox is leading sports brands into the Metaverse:

“The sandbox is in essence a digital land and brands are looking to buy pieces of land, whether that be big or small, and what they can do is gamification in the metaverse. It could also become a hub for fans to come to.”

“Take the company’s partnership with One Football as an example. The Metaverse, Metaverse land or the Sandbox will always be an option and a part of Animoca’s ecosystem. It allows people to join in and meet new fans from their club. That is what the Sandbox is about and we want people to come together, experience together, swap ideas and interact more freely with other football clubs’ fans. It allows people to grow their sports and yes it does have a commercial element to it. Though, the Sandbox has also had success in other industries than sports.”

On challenges and opportunities: 

“One of the questions was: Will we eventually see universal wallets that will work across sports so that fans can have a simple and easy user experience? That includes using NFTs and the answer is yes.”

“We have wallets and one of the biggest complaints, last year and still now is the ease of use and having to be able to use them. I believe that we will be able to use them across multiple chains. My main focus is to try and see how we can use the one wallet across multiple sports using the NFTs. I think the biggest issue that will go on for years to come is the education of NFTs, what it means. What is a digital collectible?”

“We’ve talked about Gen Z and Millennials but over here our biggest football fans and critics are people over a certain age. Those are the people who are going to go against this, and we need to educate them as well. I think we should bring Gen Z and Millennials along as they are the future for both sectors: sport and Web 3. However, we still need to explain the concept to older generations. For example, you have to tell them that digital collectibles are like the stickers from the 1980s and 1990s and they start to understand and want to learn more about it.”

Another one of the utility side of things is trying to bring it into real life. There’s a lot of people just holding these NFTs but as a sport fan you want to be able to go and see the sport you love. Some people owning NFTs won the opportunity to go to the Australian Grand Prix and the same thing happened with the Indy 500 as well.” 

On the role of sports and esports organizations play in growing the Web3 ecosystem:

“Web3 is the future of the internet, and specifically digital rights management and offline usages such as ticketing and loyalty / engagement programmes. It will be part of the fabric of online media and fan engagement going forward, and sports will need to figure out how best to adopt it into their workflows and products.”

“As the world decentralizes, blockchain is creating more opportunities for sports entities to grow and monetize. There’s no reason to think that the sports industry cannot leverage its IP into new Web3-focused product categories that generate tens of billions of dollars of incremental revenue. I also see sports continuing to be a key focus of the company’s investment/business growth strategy in the future.”

Connect with AST to learn more about the opportunities in Web3.0.



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