It’s a far cry from accepting cryptocurrency for payments, as the Dallas Mavericks will be during the upcoming NBA season, but MLB will be participating for the first time in blockchain payments with the release of MLB Crypto Baseball.
Cryptocurrency, for those outside the bitcoin and blockchain worlds, is a digital, decentralized currency using blockchain technology to track transitions in an unregulated environment. It’s currently the Wild West of currency, not backed by a country or trading union, subject to some pretty wild valuations. It’s a matter of great debate in the banking world whether cryptocurrency, such as bitcoin and ethereum (“Ether”), will survive and thrive or whether the whole system will collapse. It’s based on supply and demand, with scarcity driving up prices.
As noted, the Dallas Mavericks will accept cryptocurrency (specifically, bitcoin and Ether) for season tickets for the 2018-2019 NBA season, while the NBA’s Sacramento Kings will mine cryptocurrency via the advanced data center and tech infrastructure at Golden 1 Center, with proceeds going to charity. The Victoria Harbourcats (summer collegiate; West Coast League) is the first team — MLB, MiLB, indy, summer collegiate — to accept cryptocurrency for tickets, a move launched earlier this year.
Kenny Gersh, MLB’s executive VP of gaming and new business ventures, says that MLB has been eyeing cryptocurrency for a long time, and rejected other ideas before settling on doing a game with Lucid Sight.
“We talked a long time ago about bitcoin and whether we should accept it as payment for MLB.tv and some of our other products, and we opted not to,” Gersh says. “At the end of the day we decided that isn’t our business, we’re not in the speculation business. We’re in the business of delivering baseball to fans. So this game is a more interesting intersection of blockchain technology and what we do.”
Basically, the game is built around the notion that you’ll acquire digital assets for the game, like player avatars, via cryptocurrency, and that you’ll buy and sell those assets. The game isn’t public yet, so many of the specifics still need to be filled in. However, offering cryptocurrency payments in a third-party licensed game isn’t actually making a huge commitment to bitcoin or Ether, so it remains to be seen whether the much touted currency of tomorrow will be useful at today’s ballpark any time soon.