In the wake of the rhino, Sorari sneaks up on the eel. Co-founder, Remy Bellerin, explains at 20 Mint au Carré how his fantasy football platform, Ultimate Champions…
Unagi is reminiscent of eel sushi or the Ross Geller logo, but not necessarily the sport. Why did you choose this name?
To refer to Japan, the country of gaming because Unagi is a video game development studio that specializes in Play To Earn (a game that rewards the player for their performance) and blockchain technology. We created it with the goal of making this new type of game accessible to as many people as possible. And the first game we developed was called Ultimate Champions. It is a fantasy sports platform where real-world athletes, such as soccer players, are represented by digital cards in the form of NFTs. The user will make a team of eleven of these players and based on their performance in the real world will collect points. At the end of the weekend, points are added and if he performs, he will be given rewards, especially player cards that will be added to his collection, which he can exchange, resell, etc.
Is it a bit like Sorare?
We’re pretty impressed with what Sorari did, of course. But we had a hard time getting people to come and play with us because of the high cost of entry. We play for free (games that are free to use but often offer small payments to improve the experience). We at Ubisoft have been working for a long time in this sector and we wanted to create this type of game, which requires no investment to start having fun. We also have a different mode of play with eleven players on his team, on the bench, to try to fully position himself in the manager role. We have created our own tokens that allow us to distribute token rewards in addition to cards, which we can spend to improve our team.
And you don’t make the same difference. Have you signed your own partnerships?
Yes this is important. At the moment, we have agreements with about forty clubs. We started with Arsenal in particular. We are very pleased with this long-term exclusive partnership, and we have also signed with a few clubs in France, in Ligue 1 and in Ligue 1. who live in this country.
How do you negotiate with a union? Others have already tried it before?
Not in Romania, no… There is a first stage where you have to explain what you’re doing. A little education about what blockchain brings. We were able to build a prototype very early on which allowed us to show what we wanted to do and Federation really liked seeing us. It gives them an additional revenue channel and they can reach a new generation of fans, who may be less accustomed to spending two hours watching a match and consuming football differently on social networks, in particular.
Do you also join other sports?
completely. Our vision is to become a multi-sport platform. We started with football because it is the biggest sport. who we know best. Then we include basketball. We have signed a long-term partnership with the Euroleague, which brings together great teams such as Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern and Milan. These 38 clubs are somewhat similar to the European Basketball Champions League. There are more than 500 matches a year.
The same mechanics as football?
The gameplay is not specified in detail. But we want to do something more dynamic. Offer users to directly manage their team, eg. We know that basketball fans are more familiar with statistics than football fans. For a game like ours that is data-driven, that’s great. There are so many things to do and our game designers visualize everything.
What blockchain is Ultimate Champions based on?
on the polygon. But we wanted it to be very accessible and thus we could simply buy NFTs by credit card in Euros. However, before paying, you must first come and try the game for free. All players who start have the same hypothetical budget as they compose their team. Our goal as a developer is to create a game that people will find interesting. They will come to have fun with their friends, make new connections, etc. And only if they wanted to advance faster, they would spend a few euros …
What does Web 3 ultimately bring to a game like this?
The problem with games and the traditional game model, especially free-to-play, is that users don’t actually own what’s in the game. For example for FIFA every year – all the money a player spent in FIFA the previous year is lost forever. Our NFTs truly belong to the players. They can sell it, trade it, and even destroy it if they want to.
But if the game disappears, the NFT value will also disappear. It is no longer of any use. Are we really changing the rules of the game with this?
We are changing the rules of the game for the user. NFT is a collectible item that can be played with. Even if the game stops, the card retains its value to the collectors. Zidane’s Panini 98 card still holds a lot of value today.
I worked at Ubisoft, who have experienced setbacks At the launch of the NFT sales platform. Several players have made it clear that they do not want these paid tokens. How do we explain that NFTs have such bad press among some players?
We still need an educational stage for people to understand the interest of NFTs. This interest is property. With NFTs, the player can trade or sell all the items he earns in the game, and there is a lack of knowledge about it. I think we are at a similar time at the beginning of playing for free, when a lot of players rejected this model and preferred to pay 60 euros for their game, own the chest and not have any additional expenses. Today the free game is installed as standard. We are convinced that playing for profit will become more democratic and that there will be more and more games with this model.