March on Sorare – Community Update and more

This is my monthly rundown on all that’s been happening in the world of Sorare – and there’s plenty to talk about this month!

After a pretty quiet start to March and the disruption of the international break, Sorare dropped their first ‘Community Update’ right at the end of the month. There is plenty to digest from that alone so I’ll focus on the main points from that first.

Update: Gameplay

Let’s start with the big one – Common cards will be removed from Rare divisions from August.

I think most of us could see this coming. It’s a logical step towards simplifying the structure of the divisions and making it a little harder to grind out the ETH rewards, as it probably should be. This isn’t a small change though. Andrew Laird, head of content for SorareData, tweeted out a graph showing how many managers are using Common cards in Rare divisions at the moment:

That’s around 70% of Global All-Star Rare lineups, and 40% of lineups in the other Rare divisions that are going to be short of a player come August. In the vast majority of cases, this will be a goalkeeper.

So what happens? I guess managers will go one of two ways – some will look to buy Rare goalkeepers so that they can continue to compete, while others will sell off their Rare cards and drop down to the Limited tier instead. So Rare divisions should become a little easier, while Limited divisions should continue to toughen up, and the price of Rare goalkeepers should continue to outpace the price of the Rare outfield players – potentially causing a significant bottleneck at the Rare level.

For newcomers to Sorare, I think the days of saying ‘build an ETH grinding team’ are now over. Unless you’re coming at this with bags of cash, you’ll need to start at the Limited level and build your way up by winning Limited cards and trading. Hopefully, Sorare introduce a level in between Limited and Rare at some stage to help progression (the mythical ‘Limited Pro’) but perhaps Sorare are waiting to onboard another league before doing this as obviously that would require more cards to distribute as prizes.

Also in the gameplay part of the update was the introduction of the Underdogs League, Specialist League and Legends Challenge.

The Underdogs League was another thing that most people expected. Giving some regular utility to lower scoring cards is quite a nice way to add an element of fun to the game and to help retain managers who can’t afford the big-name players yet.

The Specialist League I’m less excited about. It feels like a rebrand of the current Special Weekly rather than anything new but it goes against the Sorare mantra of trying to keep the game as simple as possible – with requirements that change every week, stacking restrictions, league restrictions, no bonuses and so on.

The Legends Challenge is way overdue and I’m sure those managers who bought Legends cards back in September on the promise of utility will be very glad to see it finally arriving on the calendar!

Update: Rewards

There was another big change dropped in this section with the news that ETH rewards would be pegged to USD from August. The figures given are:

  • 205 point threshold will offer $25 worth of ETH
  • 250 point threshold will offer $50 worth of ETH
  • ETH distributed to podium places will follow a similar conversion rate

Dan added on the Discord that this change applies until at least December 2022.

I think in GBP, not dollars, so this didn’t mean much to me initially but on current conversation rates $25 is about £19, so this is a change that pegs the rewards a bit below the current rates, with ETH around the £2,600 mark as I write this.

I’m not going to say this is a reduction in rewards because we simply don’t know where ETH will be in August – it could have fallen back to £1,500 or up to £3,000. But, based on the current trajectory of ETH, this does look likely to be less than what we were previously receiving and if you’re bullish on Ethereum, you’re probably not going to be happy with this part of the update.

From a business perspective, this gives Sorare something that they can better plan for, rather than having to try to account for wild fluctuations in ETH. It also reduces their overall liabilities quite a bit, with a reduction in prizes across the board (as it stands) and possibly fewer people hitting the thresholds with the removal of Common cards from Global All-Star Rare.

I’ve seen people comment that it also underlines that Sorare is a fantasy football game first, with a Blockchain element, rather than being a true Blockchain game. I’m not sure about this, given that Sorare will continue to receive the majority of their income in ETH, although I’ve of course no idea whether they hold those funds as ETH or immediately convert back to fiat.

One last point to consider, and something that I would guess is very deliberate from Sorare. Pegging the prizes to USD should have a stabilising impact on card prices too, at least in theory. If ETH goes on another bull run, we’re less likely to see card prices shooting through the roof, which should help to keep the game a little more affordable for all.

Also in the rewards section of the update was an update on reward card allocations and gameweek calendars. Nothing particularly new or exciting here but good to see, certainly in terms of improving the clarity of communication with the community.

Update: Card Designs

The card designs for 2022-23 were revealed and received a mixed response. I tend to think that people need a bit of time to warm to new designs and every year I think ‘urgh last year’s were better’, before eventually thinking I quite like them, so I won’t pass judgement yet!

The 3D tease of the cards was really nice though, and they do look like they’ve been designed to work better as 3D items, although there is no indication that this is part of the plan.

Update: Mobile App

As expected, Sorare’s mobile app is nearly ready and you can apply to join the iOS beta testing group now. The current beta version of the app looks really clean, with your current and past gameweek teams viewable and in-app notifications for your player scores. It’s easy to use, albeit extremely limited.

The app is crucial to Sorare’s desire to be a mainstream product but I imagine there will be some significant challenges if they are to bring all aspects of the game into an app. The biggest challenge will be the buying and selling of players, as Apple and Google take a large cut of any in-app purchases and generally don’t look too favourably on crypto applications.

Still, even if the app simply allows you to set teams and view your gameweek results, that is still a huge improvement on what we have now.

Update: MLS joins Sorare

Let’s be honest, this wasn’t the league that we were hoping for at this point but the acquisition of the MLS is still a great move for Sorare.

We already had access to most of the players, through a longstanding agreement with the MLS Players Association (MLSPA), but soon we will be able to see the full kits and jerseys on our cards, rather than the weird headshots that we’ve become so used to.

Other than the cosmetic benefits, this is a good tactical move from Sorare on their path to US domination. With yet another full league signed up, this also establishes them once again as the favourite for any future rights deals yet to be agreed… English Premier League anyone???

What we didn’t hear

Other than the announcement of the English Premier League, what else was missed in the update?

Nothing about the scoring matrix. Dan has since confirmed on Discord that they know the changes they want to make and there will be an update ‘one day’, so I’d guess this isn’t coming anytime soon.

Dan also confirmed that the game rules / terms and conditions are being updated and we should see the outcome of that in the next month.

Fees for secondary market sales? It wasn’t mentioned in the update but has apparently been mentioned elsewhere and must be something they are considering at least.

Other things this month

The Community Update was a positive way to round off what was otherwise a pretty flat month for Sorare. The introduction of Scouting Season created a bit of initial excitement but has largely been seen as ill-timed, given that it pushed out additional cards into a market that was already struggling a bit with the main European seasons drawing to a close.

Russian Premier League Cards have been pulled from the auctions as a mark of solidarity with Ukraine. The cards are still usable in SO5 and tradable on the secondary market but it means that Sorare cannot profit from them directly, which seems a measured and appropriate approach to take.

The fallout from the BlackPool issues of last month continued to rumble on a bit so it’ll be interesting to see what the planned update to terms and conditions looks like and whether it goes far enough to address the community concerns.

Sorare also began covering the Croatian First Football League in March and added the first Croatian team – Dinamo Zagreb. They’ve got some pretty decent players too, with the likes of Josip Šutalo, Josip Mišić and Mislav Oršić already catching the eye of managers.

Sales volume and manager numbers

Secondary market sales peaked in February and have seen a significant drop since then.

Taken from SorareData

I imagine there are various factors influencing this, but the start of the American and Asian leagues, coupled with the upcoming end of the European seasons, will be a key one. Indeed, we saw a similar tailing off of volume last year and the market only really picked up again in June.

Auction volume is less linear because so much of it is reliant on the release of big Uniques, of which there were plenty in March. Sorare raised around 7,700 ETH during the month (around £17.5m based on average ETH values) which is a bit more than in recent months and could be another explanation for why the secondary market took such a dip.

The growth of new managers continued, increasing around 12.5% across all indicators during March and with 112,696 managers holding at least one blockchain card at the end of the month. This shows no signs of slowing down but is nowhere near the 1.5 million users quoted by Nicolas in the Community Update video. With retention quoted at around 70%, I’m curious to understand what’s going on here. Are they all playing in the Casual League? Or are they dead accounts that still exist on the system but no longer have any cards? If you know the answer to this, please do let me know!

My performance over the month

It was a decent month for me, nothing amazing but good nonetheless. Four card prizes and 0.04 ETH.

The players together are worth around 0.5 ETH, or £1,300 as things stand. GW 250 was a frustrating one – so many high scores across the board that a score of 429.2 pts only got me 32nd place (tier 2). Another Rare goalkeeper on the roster can’t be a bad thing though.

I also took some money out of the platform in March, having planned to do that for a long time. It’s really important to do this from time to time, otherwise the danger is you just keep on depositing and never really see anything tangible from your ‘wins’. I withdrew 1.5 ETH and would like to withdraw another 1.5 ETH before the summer, although realistically I’ll probably wait until card values start to go up a bit again.

That’s it for now, let’s see what April brings!

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

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