What happened on Sorare in July

July was a busy month on Sorare and there’s plenty to reflect on as we head into August. Here’s run down of the key things that have happened, in case you missed it.

Stark changes

I’ll start with the big one. The quarterly AMA firmed up something that we were all expecting – the new scarcity is on the way. As yet unnamed (but often referred to as ‘Uncommon’) it will have a scarcity of 1/1000. I would guess that they’re aiming to have the new scarcity ready to launch for not long after the beginning of the European seasons and hopefully alongside a big marketing push.

The new scarcity has been made possible because Sorare implemented the scaling solution in July, moving to Starkware. This eliminates the biggest issues of running on Ethereum – the time it takes to process transactions and the punishing gas fees, most of which Sorare have been paying on our behalf for all this time.

It’ll be a while before we all feel the impact of this change as each card needs to be individually transfered first but already I’ve noticed much quicker transactions and rewards. What’s really important though is that Sorare have removed one of the key barriers to taking this platform to the next level – a huge leap forward.

Two new leagues on the way

The other big announcement in the AMA was that we’re about to see two new leagues join the platform. We’ve been given only one clue – that one league is already covered by SO5 and the other one isn’t. Various guesses have been thrown around… I guess Ligue 1 is the most logical guess for the covered league, given that they are a French company?

As for the uncovered team… that’s tougher. The Austrian Bundesliga perhaps? Or will they throw us a real curve ball and chuck in the Women’s Super League or something like that?

We’ll find out soon enough – new cards will begin dropping from August onwards, once they have all the player photos sorted (which usually takes a bit of time). We already saw the new Lokomotiv Moscow and Krasnodar cards appear at the end of July so things could get pretty hectic on the transfer market soon…

One Shot League is dead

The bad news from the AMA was that One Shot League has been consigned to history. The Ubisoft partnership project was trialled last season with the Jupiler (Belgian) League and was a nice intro to the game for new users as it allowed you to play with cards you didn’t own.

Unfortunately it was besieged by issues of multi-accounting and I suspect that the the model of giving away a ton of cards each week through a different platform doesn’t really work with Sorare new dynamic rewards system.

Whatever the reason, it’s a shame it’s gone as this was a real promotional opportunity for Sorare, if handled right. Hopefully the new scarcity and soon to be revealed ‘Academy’ progression system will help to fill the gap.

They were the key points coming out of the AMA for me but if you want to read more detail on the AMA, I’ve summarised it here.

Dynamic rewards got tweaked

Sorare made some changes to the dynamic rewards this month. Podium ETH rewards are now scaled depending on the number of players with cards in that gameweek, tournament opening rules have been clarified and the number of rewards in Division 3 increased.

DNP players were also added to the reward pools, to bulk them out a bit. This predictably didn’t land very well and Sorare had to roll this back again after a week due to community feedback. I personally don’t think it’s feasible to add DNPs into the rewards until the issue with the reward tiers is sorted and a ‘tier 4’ level created.

With the number of reward cards capped by scarcity and with new season cards not yet released for many teams, the rewards do have a bit of a ‘scraping the barrel’ feel at the moment. I think this just a temporary thing with new teams, and whole leagues, coming on board very soon.

It’s worth noting that Sorare also released information about reward transparency alongside this update, to give extra clarity about how the number of rewards is decided and how they are randomly selected. This is a very technical blog but hopefully can be condensed into a more understandable format in the future – or perhaps we’ll eventually end up with reward pools that show exactly which card will be won for each placing, ahead of the gameweek ending?

The games go on

Alongside all of this, SO5 has been ticking over nicely, helped by the return of some Challenger league action in late July.

My gallery is now just shy of 100 players and I pulled four reward cards during the month, alongside 0.05 in ETH threshold rewards.

I’ll probably look to sell two of the four rewards, keeping only the MLS guys. Pedro Santos has been on fire since he arrived with my squad so I’m really pleased to have picked him up. Having a decent MLS squad has really helped me to keep me engaged with Sorare during the summer and I’d always recommend that new managers look to pair up their European squad with either an Asian or MLS squad for that reason.

I also added three new guys to the squad to try to fill a few gaps:

The total cost of these new signings was 0.412 ETH, which was around £680 at the time. With so many crazy summer transfers happening I’ll need to review my team properly and see what other gaps need filling and I’m expecting to put another 0.3 ETH or so in before the end of August – although that may depend on whether ETH continues to rise as I also have real-world bills to pay!

(Remember: never play with more than you can afford to lose)

Looking at the SorareData 50 Index (the monthly average rare card price of the top 50 players on Sorare), prices do seem to be rising again at the moment, which is probably linked to people getting their squads ready for the new season.

The average price of a top Rare card is around 0.9 ETH now – roughly £1,600. This is exactly why we need the new scarcity as a lot of people will walk away if they can’t put a team of superstars together for less than £200, never mind £5,000!

Sales volume, marketing and profile raising

Sales were pretty solid in July but about 50% down on the previous month, which is likely due to the downtime and disruption caused by the Starkware integration. Sorare sits in 9th place for volume in the games category on DappRadar for the past 30 days and in 40th place based on the number of users.

There has been a lot of noise around NFTs during July but Sorare is a kind of hybrid product and doesn’t always get mentioned in the same breath as things like Axie Infinity and the Bored Apes Yacht Club. Perhaps that doesn’t matter too much if the main target audience of Sorare is everyday football fans, rather than the NFT community, but I hope that Sorare can at least benefit from the increased public awareness of what NFTs are.

In July, Sorare partnered with Goldin Auctions, a sports memorabilia marketplace, to offer a small selection of the Belgian and French national team cards for auction through their site. This is an interesting marketing angle, to try to get Sorare on the radar of collectors of physical cards, and it will be interesting to see how much they go for and who ends up buying them.

The rumours of large investment persisted as well, with Sorare being dubbed ‘the most valuable unicorn in France’. All of these mainstream stories help to lodge Sorare in the public consciousness – we now need to hope that the new scarcity is the key to turning the curious into new managers.

Sorare is hiring

If Sorare really wants to expand the userbase, they have to grow their team as well. With all efforts focused on getting the Starkware implementation right in July we yet again saw the customer support side of things taking a bit of a hammering.

When you consider the size of the team, it’s not surprising that some things don’t run smoothly and responses to emails can take days, even weeks, so I was relieved to see a number of job adverts go out in July covering roles across all areas of the business.

By my reckoning, these new posts will pretty much double the size of the team but I suspect (hope?) they are also planning to grow the customer support team specifically, as this is where the Sorare experience is still a little rough around the edges.

Alongside improving the onboarding process for new managers, improving customer support is the next important step is Sorare really wants to grow the userbase.

New to Sorare and unsure what to do? Check out my getting started guide.

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