The minds behind CryptoKitties, Dapper Labs, won’t be constrained by the realm of the adorable when it comes to their digital collectibles work, at least if their latest collaboration with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is any indication.
On February 20th, the blockchain startup announced they had secured a licensing partnership with the UFC. The deal will see the two enterprises collaborating on creating limited-edition, UFC-based digital items that fans can easily trade and collect.
Notably, the collectibles will be developed on Flow, an apps-focused blockchain platform that Dapper Labs unveiled work on last fall. Roham Gharegozlou, the firm’s chief executive officer, said the meld will give the UFC a new way to engage with their fans:
“Flow makes it easy for any developer to build blockchain apps, games, and digital assets to power them. Working with the UFC, we are showing what’s possible when you give an engaged fanbase a real ownership stake in the game they love and the communities they’re a part of.”
On the news, Tracey Bleczinski, a senior vice president in UFC’s global consumer products division, echoed Gharegozlou’s optimism.
“UFC prides itself on being innovators in sports technology, and Flow is another way to provide our fans with the best entertainment experience,” Bleczinski said.
Not Dapper’s First Big Partnership
Dapper Labs’s UFC embrace won’t be the first time the startup has been involved in a mainstream collaboration.
Last summer, the CryptoKitties creators revealed they had entered into a deal with the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) to help create NBA Top Shot, a platform for NBA-centric digital collectibles.
As Dapper’s CEO Gharegozlou said at the time:
“The NBA and its players are among the greatest heavyweights in global culture. Dapper Labs is proud to work with the NBA and NBPA to create an unparalleled digital experience for sports fans. Through NBA Top Shot basketball fans can engage with their favorite players, teams, and each other in entirely new ways.”
The Rise of Flow
Dapper Labs made waves in the cryptoeconomy last September when it announced it had raised more than $11 million USD from the likes of large investors like Andreessen Horowitz and Warner Music Group for developing the startup’s Flow blockchain.
Why build a platform separate from Ethereum, which is where CryptoKitties and many other NFT projects have enjoyed initial flashes of success? In a blog post at the time, Dapper’s Gharegozlou explained that Ethereum’s coming transition to sharding technology will improve scaling but will also introduce certain composability challenges.
“In other words, sharding is a good solution for payments, but not for an ecosystem of complex applications like games or social networks,” Gharegozlou said.
Accordingly, Flow’s design was custom-tailored by Dapper Labs’s builders with the intention of being extremely app-friendly. The ensuing possibilities will be manifold, the startup’s CEO explained:
“Examples of experiences that can be powered by Flow include: artists or bands using crypto tokens to give millions of fans unprecedented new ways to show their fandom; games that reward players for adding value and enable assets and identities that users can take across infinite open environments; or platforms for sports fans around the world to trade verified, authentic, limited-edition digital memorabilia in real-time.”
In any case, it seems like a ripe time to be building in the NFT space in general. According to a new report from the NFT analytics site NonFungible, the collective market cap of the NFT collectibles and gaming arena could climb 50 percent in 2020 to hit above the $315 million mark. If that happens, the sector would be bigger than it’s ever been before.