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Hellebore, a startup led by Golden State Warriors co-owner Nick Swinmurn, announced the launch of its blockchain-based sports prediction game Play Hellebore.
Launched on Tuesday, the title is the world’s first (non-fungible token) NFT-powered play-and-earn sports prediction game, according to the company.
By purchasing NFT players called Sibers for .03ETH (approximately $50), players can predict the outcomes of real-time games in the NFL, NCAA football, MLB, and international soccer.
Players have the opportunity to increase the value of their NFTs, unlock physical and digital prizes, and compete against friends, family, and complete strangers in traditional “Pick’Em” style fantasy sports leagues, the company said.
“Everybody knows what fantasy sports are, and chances are that at some point most individuals
have also taken part in some kind of ‘Pick’Em’ league with friends, in their neighborhood, or at
their office,” said Hellebore CEO Nick Swinmurn, who was a cofounder of Zappos, in a statement. “With the Web3 and NFT spaces continuing to proliferate at a rapid pace, it is only natural that these worlds would collide to provide both hardcore and casual sports fans alike with a fun new way to be a part of the game and compete for rewards and bragging rights.”
In an email to GamesBeat, Swinmurn said Play Hellebore is not sports betting or gambling. Hellebore is a free-to-play prediction game for holders of Hellebore’s NFTs. Hellebore has no entry fee or amount wagered. Through gameplay players can increase the rating of their Siber NFTs, progress through the game levels, and compete in matchups. League commissioners and participants do have the ability to set outside prizes for winners of their private leagues on their own, similar to any other fantasy sports league.
Play Hellebore provides casual sports fans and fantasy sports enthusiasts with an easy on-ramp
into Web3 by providing a user-friendly interface and one-click, intuitive gameplay all accessible
on any device, the company said.
By simply picking the winning outcome in sports matchups 365 days a year, players can increase the value of their NFTs and improve their odds of winning future contests.
As their Siber ratings increase, players can unlock the League level, which launches September
8, coinciding with the start of the 2022 NFL season, and in progress in real life season games
for NCAA football, MLB, and international soccer.
Similar to traditional player and statistics-based fantasy sports leagues, players can become league managers. Players can set up custom leagues of up to 64 teams and play with friends and family in head-to-head matchups.
Unlike many other NFTs, Hellebore’s NFTs immediately offer players both real-world and in-game utility, the company said. With their Sibers, players can unlock digital and physical rewards, including additional NFT prizes, merch, and unique fan engagement experiences. Additionally, individual Sibers’ ratings increase with each correct pick, giving them the power to tilt the odds in a player’s favor by altering the game’s point spread.
“The sports industry is unmatched in its ability to bring together millions of people around the
world in pursuit of a shared interest,” said Hellebore chief operating officer Roshni Cox, in a statement. “By leveraging the capability of Web3 and NFTs, we are providing individuals a new way to engage with the sports they love.”
To get started, players can visit PlayHellebore.com to purchase their sport-specific Sibers and begin picking games. In addition to NFL, NCAA football, MLB, and international soccer contests, NBA, NHL, and NCAA basketball games will be available on Play Hellebore once those seasons begin this fall.
Swinmurn said Play Hellebore combines the competition and camaraderie of fantasy sports, the prediction mechanics from traditional “Pick’em” leagues, and the proof of ownership and utility of NFTs.
The blockchain and NFTs used in the game allow players to increase the value of a transferable digital asset through their performance in the game. The NFTs can be used in the game by any player around the world, which creates a real opportunity for players to maximize the value of their NFT.
By minting a Siber NFT for .03 ETH, players can begin gameplay and earn additional NFTs by making correct predictions to increase their NFT rating; they can use their NFTs with positive ratings to tilt the odds in their favor in H2H matchups with other players, or list their NFTs for resale on OpenSea and other NFT marketplaces; and they can immediately claim physical or digital items attached to their NFT on the rewards platform, including new NFTs and a variety of physical products.
Swinmurn said the company came about after he was introduced to NFTs through collecting sports cards and immediately saw the opportunity from a collectibles standpoint.
“Having played fantasy sports with friends for years I saw an opportunity to create a new game that could pull from the simplicity of predictions, the camaraderie and competition of traditional fantasy and the proof of ownership and ability to create value for holders of NFTs,” Swinmurn said. “The challenge was finding a way to create a truly unique experience that would only be possible by combining each of these. Once that vision became clear we decided to take the leap and build.”
Beyond that, the inspiration had three parts.
“The first was the clarity of ownership from collecting NFTs,” Swinmurn said. “I loved searching through traits for rarity and discovering new projects and the simplicity of transacting on the resale marketplaces. I was at the same time hearing the potential of utility thrown around a lot but not seeing many concrete examples of actual utility. I felt that gameplay that rewarded good performance by increasing the value of a tangible asset like an NFT was interesting.”
Swinmurn added, “The second was my frustration with my performance in the fantasy leagues I was participating in. I was too busy to spend a lot of time researching individual player stats and frustrated with the lack of control over the performance of a player. I felt that simplifying down to simple “who will win” predictions would ease the depth of knowledge needed to enjoy the game and turning the ability to make correct predictions into how valuable a player NFT within the game becomes instead of the actual performance of a real player on the field would allow more control over your performance.”
And he said, “The third part which put me over the edge was my passion for starting with an image and creating from there. The possibilities not only for NFT characters within the game but also to create and partner with brands and artists and other creators in our marketplace got me really excited. We see endless opportunities ahead to create and build value around unique IP both on our own and with partners. For additional context, see my letter from the founder here.”
The company has two full-time employees and an outsourced development team.
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