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MotoGP deepens blockchain efforts with Animoca Brands deal

Marc Marquez of Repsol Honda Team rounds the bend during the MotoGP of Aragon - Free Practice (by Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images)

The MotoGP motorcycling championship has further embraced the world of blockchain technology through a partnership with Animoca Brands, with the Hong Kong-based mobile games developer completing a strategic capital raise to support the project.

Animoca Brands has signed a three-year global licensing agreement with Dorna Sports, MotoGP’s commercial and television rights holder, to develop and publish the official blockchain manager game and associated digital collectibles of the championship.

​Animoca Brands will produce a manager-style game based on MotoGP intellectual property that will consist of a selection of collectibles linked directly to the core gameplay. The game will utilise blockchain technologies and custom-developed smart contracts to enable users to purchase, collect, view, use, and transfer the collectibles that will be part of the gameplay. Animoca expects to launch the game by the start of the 2020 MotoGP season.

Animoca’s MotoGP agreement follows a similar deal it struck with Formula One in March, to develop and publish the motor racing championship’s first official blockchain game, F1 Delta Time. MotoGP has also previously delved into the sector, signing a deal in the same month with SingularCK, offering collectors what it claimed was the world’s first official licensed collection of crypto Icons – Cryptobilia.

Pau Serracanta, managing director at Dorna Sports, said: “I’m delighted to announce this agreement and to continue evolving our involvement in blockchain technology. The digital world is one of opportunity and I’m proud to see MotoGP further cemented as a forward-thinking and innovative brand, at the same time as giving fans another way to engage with our sport and get the most from their passion for grand prix motorcycle racing.”

Along with MotoGP and Formula One, Animoca has previously obtained licensing arrangements with the likes of Major League Baseball, the German Football League and Bundesliga club Bayern Munich.

In a statement, the company said it believes the manager game and collectibles based on MotoGP can considerably broaden its consumer reach and drive fan engagement through “true digital ownership” of in-game elements. The company also believes it can drive uptake and revenue by leveraging the established brands associated with Dorna Sports and MotoGP.

Animoca Brands is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). In order to fund various business opportunities, including the advancement of the MotoGP manager game, the company has completed a strategic capital raise of A$1m (€619,000/$676,000) from investors including Moses Tang, the founder of private equity firm AP Capital and founding chairman of Goldman Sachs Asia Pacific.

Yat Siu, co-founder and chairman of Animoca Brands, said: “With both MotoGP and Formula One as partners, Animoca Brands has established a solid foothold in two- and four-wheeled motorsports.”