It’s one game down and as many as six to go in this year’s NBA Finals, and while the unusual season has kept fans outside the arena Dapper Labs is hoping to let them own a piece of on-court action.
Announced Thursday, Dapper Labs is rolling out its blockchain-based collectibles game, NBA Top Shot, to the public. Currently in its beta version and developed in partnership with the National Basketball Association, Top Shot will also be available to U.S.-based Samsung users on the Galaxy app store.
Built using non-fungible tokens (NFTs) minted on the purpose-built Flow blockchain, Top Shot lets users collect, showcase and trade in-game “moments” which capture moves made on the real court.
For instance, a user can purchase a moment based on a James Harden dunk and showcase it, sell it or swap it for, say, a Steph Curry three-pointer.
The platform has managed to build a strong following under an invitation-only beta. Rolled out in May after scoring financial backing from a handful of NBA stars, the platform has since invited 17,000 users on board, recorded 158,000 transactions and raked in over $2 million in revenue, according to data shared with CoinDesk.
Gameplay options coming soon
NFTs are unique digital tokens that allow the issuer to embed identifying information about the item (be it fine art, selfies or a basketball clip) into the token’s smart contract while also maintaining a corresponding ownership ledger on the blockchain.
The embedded identifying information provides protection against the duplication of such items, and the ownership record ensures that users can verify who owns what and carry out transactions.
While Top Shot’s current interface uses NFTs to combine trading cards with digital clips, Dapper Labs also said it is developing a more immersive experience within Top Shot called “Hardcourt.”
“It’s a 3D game where you control players on a basketball court,” Roham Gharegozlou, CEO of Dapper Labs, said in an interview. He explained that once a user has put together their team of desired players for the game, they could then use the “moments” they own to upgrade their players’ abilities.
“If I have a bunch of LeBron [James] dunks, I can train my Steph Curry to be as good at dunking as LeBron by equipping him with a lot of LeBron moments,” he said.
By adding this immersive interface to its platform, Dapper hopes to attract more mainstream users that have largely stayed away from the NFT-enabled gaming world.
“It’s a high graphical experience, because all of our user research showed that that’s what mainstream fans want to see,” said Gharegozlou, adding:
“Crypto fans would be OK with a trading card game or fantasy sports thing. But to actually go mainstream and have a game that tens of millions of people play every day, you need to kind of make it look as good as all the options that are out there.”
Dapper Labs said Hardcourt is under internal testing and is slated for release toward the end of Q4.
Notably, Top Shot allows users to make payments using both fiat (through credit cards) and cryptocurrencies. Even though credit cards and crypto payments make up equal shares of the platform’s revenue, credit cards account for three-quarters of all transactions made, according to data shared by Dapper Labs.