April on Sorare – bottoming out?

This is my monthly rundown on all that’s been happening in the world of Sorare.

April was a tough month for many traders as we head into the tail end of the European season but Sorare’s coverage of leagues world-wide continued to grow.

The Scottish Premier League landed (mostly)

It was one of Sorare’s worst-kept secrets but the SPFL finally joined the platform in April. The cards had been minted for some time so it’s unclear why there was a delay, although speculation is that Sorare were doing their best to try to get Rangers added as part of the package – unsuccessfully in the end.

The excitement from our Scottish managers was great to see and gives a real sense of what might await us if the Premier League ever joins the platform (I’d recommend you have a listen to the View from the Dugout podcast). Buying players because you really want to hold them, as true collectibles, rather than simply chasing SO5 scores.

The addition of this league adds more top-performing players to the Challenger Europe division, particularly from Celtic. We’ve seen again the calls to split Challenger Europe into new divisions but it’s unlikely that Sorare have any changes planned in the near term and at least we should be able to count on the reward pools growing too.

MLS fully licensed

MLS players have been on Sorare for a while, but without the club licences. The new licence deal means that Sorare can finally mint players from all 28 clubs, in their club kits and with the club badges on show – much better than the existing ‘big head’ designs that we’ve all been so used to.

Although some new designs didn’t quite seem to work…

@footballecon

The new cards are selling at a premium compared to the old designs. Some of this, I’m sure, is because they look so much better but mostly because people are chasing the new season 5% bonuses. With such small margins often making the difference in SO5, I can see the sense in this, but I’d still much rather have an older card that has been properly trained up. Perhaps a good time to grab some bargains if you’re not bothered about that bonus?

Other new clubs

During April we also saw the addition of a few more South American clubs – Club Necaxa (Mexico), Universidad Católica (Chile), Fortaleza EC (Brazil) and Club Cienciano (Peru).

Fortaleza have a good looking player in Pikachu (a great name too) but these aren’t really top tier teams so are unlikely to set the market alight. Still, it’s always good to see the Sorare brand continuing to grow across the world.

But wen Premier League???

Competitors

Sorare have been operating without any real competitors in this space, using their first-mover advantage well. I sense that this is starting to change now and we’ve seen a glut of new football NFT platforms hit the market in recent months – Footium, Ludo Labs, Futera United, The Football Club, MetaLeague and of course CLUB (which I’m working on).

One which seemed to get a lot of traction in April was Ultimate Champions. I’ve not had a tinker with this but, from what I’ve seen, the gameplay is very similar to Sorare – licensed cards, released in different tiers, line them up to score points based on their contribution on the pitch and aim for thresholds. The key difference is this is an 11-a-side game and the licenses are generally for lower league teams – although they do have some Scottish Premier League and Ligue 1 licenses. It’s also built on Polygon, rather than Ethereum, and has an underlying token economy.

For many people, I suspect a big part of the attraction of Ultimate Champions is the idea of getting on early, and therefore becoming the future whales of the platform. Early adoption is a high risk, high reward strategy as most new products won’t go the distance but if you pick the right one the returns can be considerable – as we saw with Sorare. It’s not for me (at least not right now) but I can see why people are jumping in.

With the success of Sorare, it was inevitable that another company moved into this space and competition isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Hopefully, it keeps Sorare on its toes and pushes them to innovate and improve the product.

Sales volume and manager numbers

The volume on the secondary market continued to fall in April. This looks to be coinciding with the end of the European seasons – fitting the usual pattern of this being the best time to buy players (and the worst time to sell).

Could it be more than this? I think it’s still too early to tell but it does look as though the auction volume is holding up a little better than the volume on the secondary market (see below), possibly indicating that the frequency of auctions is sucking up more of the liquidity than we’ve seen previously. Other than customer sentiment, there’s no real incentive for Sorare to support the secondary market whereas they have every reason to push the auctions. Perhaps introducing a small fee for secondary market transactions would help this?

Auction volume for April was approx 6,500 ETH (around £15.5m based on recent ETH values), a drop on last month but otherwise roughly in line with usual auction income for the month.

Manager numbers continued to rise at a steady rate, on the same trajectory that we’ve seen since mid-August. Growth in the number of managers holding a larger number of cards was noticably larger than those holding less cards – 10 cards was increased by 11.5%, 25 cards by 16.4% and 50 cards by 19.5%, whereas the lower amounts were all less than 10%. It feels as though there is a shift towards managers consolidating their collections and a slight slowing of new users.

This might be significant to the current trajectory of the platform, and could be another key reason why card prices are falling as holding more cards reduces the marginal utility of adding more to your collection. Rather than try and explain that here, I’d suggest you take a look at this excellet SorareData video if you’re interested in learning more:

My performance over the month

I had a decent month in terms of SO5 with seven card rewards (six Tier 3s and one Tier 2) plus 0.05 ETH.

The Tier 3 lottery is always ‘fun’ and it’s easy to be disappointed when you pull a player you’ve never heard of but every player has a price and when you add it all up, it’s usually more than you expect.

Looking at average prices, these lot are worth about 0.35 ETH. Add on the 0.05 ETH threshold rewards and that’s around £780 in rewards for the month (hypothetically anyway – I’ve only managed to sell one of them so far!).

May will be an interesting month. Will prices begin to rebound?


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