As part of the round, players Rio Ferdinand and Gerard Pique contributed to the deal. The blockchain-based game Sorare has raised $680 million in a funding round led by SoftBank.
Paris-based Sorare estimates the company is worth $4.3 billion after the investment.
A new online game launched in 2018, Sorare allows players to collect official soccer player cards and build their own teams to compete against each other, with a result determined by the players’ performance in real games.
As crypto assets, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are used to track ownership of the cards on the blockchain.
In 2021, NFTs have seen explosive growth, with collectibles and sports-related tokens being the most popular types.
“We think NFTs represent a new paradigm in the collectability, usability, and engagement with assets,” Michel Combes, president of SoftBank Group International, said in emailed comments.
“This evolution from physical assets to digital assets is very powerful, and creates a lot of exciting potential business models.”
Based on market data tracked by NonFungible.com, a website that tracks NFT market data, Sorare is the largest sports-based NFT platform. They plan to expand into sports other than soccer and open an office in the United States.
“We saw the immense potential that blockchain and NFTs brought to unlock a new way for football clubs, footballers, and their fans to experience a deeper connection with each other,” said Nicolas Julia, CEO and co-founder of Sorare.
“We believe this is a huge opportunity to create the next sports entertainment giant.”
Sorare has sold $150 million worth of products since January 2021, which accepts credit cards and ether as payment methods. Cristiano Ronaldo’s card was the most expensive so far, for $287,420.44 ($245,072) on March 13.
With SoftBank Vision Fund 2, SoftBank made its first investment in Sorare in the fundraising round.
Also contributing to Sorare’s user base was SoftBank’s Latin America fund, which Combes explained, was possible because of SoftBank’s relationships with U.S. and Latin American soccer leagues as well as its investment in the broadcaster Televisa-Univision.
Among SoftBank’s investments in NFTs is the NFT Marketplace OpenSea, which the company led in July, and Juggernaut, a decentralized finance platform that it invested in, earlier this year.
The footballers Pique, Ferdinand, France’s Antoine Griezmann, Spain’s Cesar Azpilicueta, and Accel and Bessemer Ventures are also investors in Sorare.