Israel’s first official esports club, Team Finest, is now getting into the NFT market, embracing NFTs and blockchain with the goal of creating a more interactive user experience for Team Finest’s fans.
NFT stands for non-fungible token, which refers to any file linked to a tradable token on a blockchain. The file is usually computerized work of art in .jpeg format that is unique and is something that along with cryptocurrency has exploded in popularity in the past year among art collectors and users of blockchain technology, among others.
And the gaming industry is no exception.
French video game publisher Ubisoft recently unveiled its own entry into the NFT field, and Electronic Arts (EA) CEO Andrew Wilson called it the industry’s future.
Now, Team Finest is following suit, and it’s clear that regardless of what one thinks of NFTs, there is clearly a large amount of interest in them that is only continuing to grow.
“If you look at the demographics of gaming, 13-36 is kind of the sweet spot, and this is parallel with the audience for blockchain and NFTs,” Team Finest chairman Mark Klein explained in a phone interview.
NFTs can be incorporated into gaming in different ways, but most commonly crop up in play-to-earn games. Some of these games are incredibly popular, such as Axie Infinity, which generates lots of money and has a daily player base in the millions.
“The market is ready and if we have our audience and partner with reputable blockchain companies and make utility out of these strategies, we’re going to be looking at a very receptive audience. The demographic is almost entirely the same,” Klein explained.
The company Team Finest has chosen to build on the Tezos blockchain which launched in 2018. Tezos is a layer 1 blockchain with on-chain governance, upgradability, smart contract verification and a thriving NFT ecosystem.
The company Team Finest has chosen to work with is Tezos, a reputable blockchain firm that has been in the business since 2014. Specifically, they chose to build on the Tezos blockchain that was launched in 2018 – a layer 1 blockchain with on-chain governance, upgradability and smart contract verification. This choice was important, as investing in any new industry carries with it a certain amount of risk that warrants hesitation, especially because of how many scams and losers can come in a new field full of hype and buzz like NFTs.
“We were presented with a number of blockchain investments and opportunities, 99% of which I turned down because even if it looks good and sounds good, a lot of things create risk and exposure for an investor like myself,” Klein said.
But Tezos has a proven track record, too, and is also the company that Ubisoft partnered with.
In October, Tezos partnered up with Team McLaren, the second-oldest active Formula 1 team, to create NFT replicas of race car parts and users can collect them to build their own race car. These sold out quickly and showed the opportunity for how NFTs can be used.
“Each owner can give certain rights outside just holding that NFT,” Klein said. “It could be voting rights for what the upcoming McLaren car could look like or invitations to special events. All of this, if you look at the platform, could be highly positive if you engage your audience.”
So how is Team Finest going to use NFTs?
They aren’t willing to get specific right now and are still exploring what the future has in store, but their first goal is already set: education.
“We plan to use Finest as a platform to educate what are NFTs and what is blockchain, and what can be done utilizing this technology,” Klein said. “We are taking it upon ourselves to educate our existing audience.”
Hesitation and in some cases, opposition to NFTs is still very vocal in many areas, and gaming is no exception. Steam, the popular PC gaming store, has banned NFT and blockchain-based games from the platform, and Phil Spencer of Microsoft Xbox called NFT integration into gaming to be “exploitive.”
But in Israel, NFTs and blockchain have found a market.
Israeli companies like Fuse Network and Celsius have both made waves in the crypto world, for example, but it doesn’t stop just there.
The Israeli firm CryptoVerses was recently launched that would make NFTs out of Bible verses, for example. Another project, the Rowdy Rabbis, has launched a total of 10,000 special NFTs that would also give the chance to win exclusive prizes. Even Israeli illusionist Uri Geller has entered the NFT market with his own personal hand-drawn art.
This is only the beginning as the field continues to boom and interest booms along with it. And Team Finest is keen to capitalize on this.
“There’s a huge amount of interest in NFTs in Israel,” Klein said, “and we want to ride that.”