How are trading cards bridging the gap between traditional sports and esports? Let’s take a look.
The global esports growth story has been an incredible one to follow. Even though competitions involving video games have been around for decades, the industry underwent a significant transition in the late 1990s, following the introduction of the Cyberathlete Professional League. Esports is a vibrant sector that thrives off technology and audience engagement, and its popularity has allowed the industry to expand in many areas. For instance, in the United Kingdom, football teams like Wolverhampton Wanderers have launched an esports team. It is composed of three players who aim to qualify for the World Championships.
Still, as the esports scene continues to explode and expand, many companies have struggled to win over fans and bridge the gap between traditional sports and electronic sports. Of course, there are some outliers, including Blizzard Entertainment, creator of the Overwatch League, the first major global esports league. In 2019, Blizzard Entertainment partnered with Upper Deck, a company renowned for its trading cards of high-profile sports figures such as Serena Williams and Michael Jordan. The two companies disclosed they would be releasing the “e-Pack,” a hybrid lineup of tangible and digital trading cards aimed at the esports sector.
Esports Trading Cards
Trading cards are a beloved pastime in sport that still occasionally makes headlines today. In fact, in 2019, a Babe Ruth trading card sold for a six-figure sum upon its accidental discovery. Ruth played 22 seasons of Major League Baseball, a career that spanned from 1914 to 1935. The introduction of the e-Pack platform, which allows fans to buy and open packs of trading cards from anywhere in the world via a mobile device or computer, meets the current esports culture while giving sports fans a taste of the past. Fans have the option of keeping their cards online or receiving physical cards in the mail.
Just as physical trading cards have long had a history within sports culture, so too has the idea that gamers can benefit from using cards in the gaming industry. The e-Pack concept offers many benefits, including collectors obtaining special achievement rewards. We often see this with online casinos and credit cards.
For instance, according to a Bonusfinder article about free spins on card registration in the UK, players can obtain rewards like free bonus cash or spins by registering their credit card on an online casino. Esports trading cards are taking this idea of using cards to receive rewards in the gaming sector and aligning it within its culture. e-Pack collectors can accumulate specific cards and then combine them for a special reward, such as a signed jersey or a player’s match-used computer mouse.
The esports industry has been around for years, but it’s still considered a blooming space. Companies looking to be successful in it appear to be taking a page from the history books. Trading cards moving into the electronic space gives sports fans a taste of the past while making it relevant within the esports culture. It also builds on the idea we see in other gaming areas, such as how using cards can lead to achievements and rewards. This blending of the past and future may be just what’s required to establish esports in the commercial sporting world.
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