The clay courts are world famous, but this week Roland-Garros isn’t the only tennis tournament on the planet. The virtual competitions organized by champion Stanislas Wawrinka also keep her fascinated. Indeed, “Stan the Man” has recently made it into what’s called Web3, launching a game backed by NFTs of digital tennis players. Despite these intimidating layman acronyms, the operation of this game called Ballman Project is very simple to understand.
When they buy an NFT, internet users receive a digital certificate of ownership, linked here to a sort of Panini card. They then discover the name of their virtual player and especially its characteristics. Technical level, strength, mental…, each tennis player shows a unique combination of parameters. Some cards are more powerful than others, but nothing is certain: training your foal will help him move forward. No great effort to provide this, note: just connect to the site and click on the suggested sessions (backhand or forehand, thirty minutes or two hours, etc.).
Diligent coaches will see their protégé progress faster than those who only log in every other day, but be careful not to overload the tennis player’s days or his “form” will plummet, reducing his chances of victory. Random variables keep the tension going, though: even a poorly rated player maintains a low chance of winning. A concept that appealed to many tennis enthusiasts: the 6,200 NFT Ballman sold like hot cakes, while their starting price was 0.1 to 0.3 ether (from 200 to 575 euros).
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And this is no surprise, because the Ballman Project has some obvious limitations. While recent video games show breathtaking graphic realism, the “Stan” project currently offers no animated sequences. So don’t expect to admire angry ball swings: you have to be happy during “matches” to see the scores in the rankings updated. Suffice it to say, we are currently closer to the Excel presentation than to Zuckerberg’s metaverse dream.
The beautiful rewards of virtual tournaments
Despite their rudimentary attributes, the Ballman Project and other Web3 games arouse curiosity because they offer a different model than traditional games. Here customers no longer buy a copy, but parts of the game itself (characters, plots…). “And we consult them a lot to decide on the future development of the game,” emphasizes Prosper Masquelier, CEO of Gameback, which was responsible for the technical development of the Ballman game.
While a Nintendo would never let its Mario and Zelda flirt with the snipers and killer whales of an Activision, the creators of Web3 games dream of their characters interacting with those of neighboring games. Their economic approach is also innovative. In a classic game, you can buy virtual bonuses (sword, potion, etc.), but rarely convert them back into hard cash. In Web3 it is possible to resell your character after improving it, or to earn money thanks to your exploits. Thus, the Ballman winners of the virtual tournaments starting at the end of June will receive rewards of up to 50 ethers. It’s called a game play to earn (play to win).
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In this virtual Wild West, however, you have to keep a cool head: not all projects are solid, or even fair. It’s not because Filipinos occasionally pocketed more money with the Web3 game Axie Infinity that by working, masses of internet users will earn their living tomorrow by slaying digital dragons. Especially at this time when the crypto and NFT markets are going through a very difficult time. “You shouldn’t buy character NFTs to make money, but to have a fun experience,” confirms Jean-Christophe Liaubet, partner at Fabernovel. Wawrinka’s game allows you to dream of becoming a tennis champion without breaking a sweat. And that’s not so bad.