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MLB gets on the blockchain with new gaming venture

Major League Baseball (MLB) has sought to create another first for the sports market by agreeing a partnership to develop the first blockchain game based on a global sports league.

MLB has partnered with Los Angeles-based game studio Lucid Sight in the venture, which will lead to MLB Crypto Baseball, the first-ever dApp game comprised of officially licensed digital, limited edition sports collectibles tied to the Ethereum blockchain. A limited supply of MLB Crypto Collectibles, as designed and created by Lucid Sight, will be available later this summer with the full game set to launch shortly thereafter.

Ethereum is a blockchain application platform that runs applications exactly as programmed without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third-party interference. Applications, such as MLB Crypto Baseball, run partly on Ethereum, which is a shared global infrastructure that can move value around and represent the ownership of property over peer-to-peer networks.

In MLB Crypto Baseball, Ether, the cryptocurrency utilised by Ethereum, will be exchanged for blockchain-secured MLB Cryptos, such as interactive avatar figures and digital collectibles commemorating special moments, featuring official marks from MLB and all 30 clubs. The Ethereum blockchain secures each MLB Crypto as an immutable asset and ensures that it has a single owner, creating the same rarity as any traditional physical collectible.

Once the initial run sells out the only way to acquire new MLB Cryptos will be from other users on the MLB Crypto Marketplace.

“This is a historic day for sports fans and blockchain enthusiasts alike as Lucid Sight and MLB have joined forces to create an entirely new genre of sports collecting and digital scarcity,” Lucid Sight co-founder and chief executive, Randy Saaf, said in a statement. “There are only so many firsts in human history. This is a big deal for sports collecting and blockchain technology.”

MLB’s executive vice-president of gaming and new business ventures, Kenny Gersh, said the league has been analysing cryptocurrency-based opportunities for a long time and rejected other offers before partnering with Lucid Sight.

He told the Yahoo Finance website: “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. 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.”

Amid falling attendances at MLB ballparks, Gersh said the league’s latest venture is a means to engage with the youth audience. He added: “That is 100-per-cent one of the strategic goals of this initiative. Collecting items related to your team, engaging with your team in a new way.

“For me, say the (Boston) Red Sox win the division in a couple months, I want to buy something that symbolises 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.”

The latest innovation comes after biometric identity platform Clear last week partnered with MLB and Tickets.com to introduce biometric ticketing at participating ballparks from 2019.

The deal will result in the development of a first-of-its-kind collaboration of emerging technologies from Clear and Tickets.com, removing the need for baseball fans to present a paper or mobile ticket at games. Fans will instead be able to use biometrics to enter ballparks.