Limited cards: unlimited potential

Friday 13th August was a landmark day in Sorare’s history, with the launch of the new Limited card scarcity. If you missed the Medium post from the team about the new cards you can find it here.

Below is a quick breakdown of what it means for managers and some of my thoughts about the changes.

What is ‘Limited’?

Limited is the name Sorare chose for the cards which they’ll mint in runs of up to 1,000 cards per player, per season. You’ll often hear the scarcity called ‘1/1000’.

The ‘up to’ bit is important to remember – Sorare won’t flood the market with the full 1,000 issue unless the demand is there (just as we didn’t often see Rare cards reach the full 100 issue in the past).

The cards are a rather lovely yellow colour and were launched on the New Cards auctions at 10am yesterday.

Why ‘Limited’? Well I guess it sounds a bit more fancy than ‘Uncommon’ (which is what we had presumed it would be) and it also hints at something about the utility of the card.

What about the utility?

Before I get into the utility, it’s worth me saying that there are different reasons that people buy Sorare cards, utility being only one of them:

  • Collectability: some people just want to hold a card of their favourite player, like they would do with a physical football card.
  • Trading: some people try to make money from flipping cards – buying low and selling on for a higher price.
  • Utility: some people want to play the game and use the cards to win prizes and ETH through SO5 tournaments.

Sorare had a difficult balance to find in terms of Limited utility. Too much utility and the prices of existing Rare cards are threatened, too little and there’s no incentive for people to buy. They’ve gone for a very cautious approach to protect the market, initially at least.

Limited cards can only be used in a newly created Division 5 tier, which follows the same format as the tiers above (split into Global All-Star, Global U23, Champion Europe, Challenger Europe, Champion Asia, and Champion America). The rules in Division 5 are:

  • 5 Limited cards required (no Commons or Rares allowed)
  • The card rewards will be Limited cards only
  • ETH will be rewarded for podium places

Detail on the level of rewards (cards and ETH) is still a bit sketchy at present because they want to scale up gradually in line with the number of entered line ups and to stick within the general ‘dynamic rewards’ framework that they’ve implemented across other divisions. If I had to guess, I’d say the podium prizes are likely to settle in the region of 0.250 ETH for 1st place, 0.160 ETH for 2nd place and 0.090 ETH for 3rd place (but I could be wrong!).

The rules and rewards of the Division 4 (including thresholds) will remain unchanged for now – so no Limited cards can enter but one Common card is still allowed. Special Weekly remains unchanged too.

What about progression?

You can only win Limited cards in Division 5 and you can’t use Limited cards in Division 4 so some people have questioned how these changes support progression on the platform (moving up the divisions).

Firstly, I think we need to be careful not to assume that all managers actually want to progress. Personally, I’ve no desire to move above Division 3 and in fact I much prefer operating in Division 4. It suits my budget and the way I like to play the game.

If managers want to use Limited cards as the stepping stone into Division 4, they can do that by trading up – either selling the cards that they win or ‘buying low, selling high’ and working their way up that way. Obviously, if they’re lucky enough to make a podium finish then that’s going to really help too.

My only concern with the trading part is that this really relies on managing supply and demand effectively. Too many cards on the market means that holders will struggle to sell theirs on the secondary market, too few and the prices will rise to Rare levels. It’ll be interesting to see how Sorare manage this and where prices eventually settle, but they’ve always been good at balancing this sort of thing in the past.

The other thing to consider is that the current structure is really only a temporary one for Sorare while they figure out what to do with Common cards. It’s clearly not logical that managers can use free/random Common cards in Division 4 but not paid-for Limited cards. Eventually I’d expect Division 4 to allow the use of one Limited card (with a penalty) and for Commons to be phased out, but that’s going to take a bit of time to work out and needs to be done carefully to not crash the price of Rare cards (especially goalkeepers).

What are the prices like?

The main rationale for Sorare introducing the new scarcity was to appeal to mainstream football fans who don’t want to part with several hundred pounds to own a J League defender, or several thousand to set up a winning team. Logically, cards that are released in a higher volume, with significantly less utility, should be a lot cheaper than Rare cards.

It’s fair to say that in the excitement of the launch some people got a bit carried away and we saw some Limited cards being sold at higher prices than their Rare card value. Some of this was because of the novelty value I’m sure, and obviously some managers were keen to get their hands on the first copies of the new cards.

Since then though, prices have really levelled off and most Limited cards I’ve seen at auction have ended for under 0.020 ETH, which is about £50 at current rates. I think we’ll eventually see the majority of Limited cards selling for perhaps half of this, with on-form player going for a bit more.

When the likes of Messi, Neymar, Ronaldo and Mbappe Limited cards come up for auction, we’re still going to be looking at high prices, simply because of the collectability aspect. Remember though, all SO5 scores are capped at 100 – which is a great leveller – so owning those players doesn’t automatically mean SO5 success…

What next?

In the last few weeks, Sorare have removed two of the biggest barriers they faced to growth – implementing the scaling solution and launching the new scarcity. These two things have literally changed the game.

We’ve come this far with organic growth alone. The next step has to be marketing the platform although, as I’ve said before, I’d rather they hold off a bit until they’ve got a big enough team to cope with an influx of new users.

Whether it’s next month or next year, the marketing push will come and, when it does, Sorare should be able to establish itself as a mainstream fantasy football platform. The timing is ideal really as there’s lots of interest in the play-to-earn sector of NFTs right now as well. With billions of football fans worldwide to target, and serious financial muscle behind them, the potential of Sorare is huge – almost unlimited!

Keep an eye on this chart on Soraredata over the coming months to track the growth:

And remember: we are still early!

If you’ve not joined Sorare yet, sign up via my link (from 13th August 2021 onwards) to get 12 Commons cards to start you off, a free Limited card after you buy your first 5 cards from the new signings market (the auctions) and, to help kickstart you on your journey, I’ll send 0.010 ETH to your account (around £25 at the time of writing). Just get in touch to let me know when you’ve made your fifth purchase and the ETH is yours.

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