MLB The Show Diamond Dynasty is positioned perfectly to take its digital marketplace global. Its ecosystem is already well-established. It follows then that Sony San Diego Studio can open up its trading desk to the world to trade cards for real coin by moving its marketplace to the blockchain.
Buying and selling Diamond Dynasty cards already exists in MLB The Show, but with a couple of caveats. First, the marketplace is designed and maintained by Sony San Diego Studio. Therefore, it is only accessible in MLB The Show on consoles. Second, the products on the marketplace are created arbitrarily. Sony SDS issues cards in its marketplace at its discretion. Sony manages the player ratings with formulas hidden from public view. Third, real money is occasionally used to purchase Stubs, Sony’s in-game currency. Stubs are the only currency of choice in MLB The Show’s marketplace. Stubs are essentially an in-game fiat, and the exchange rate is unilaterally set by Sony.
Major League Baseball needs to grow its sport with the digital generation. MLB The Show Diamond Dynasty on a blockchain is one way it can.
Sony and MLB are calling the shots in their digital economy, and this is understandable. However, I argue that by moving the MLB The Show Diamond Dynasty marketplace to a blockchain, we can shift the culture around microtransactions in sports gaming. We can also open the sport up to the world by minimizing the negative impacts of territory console restrictions.
Traders from all over the world would, in theory, would be able to access this theoretical blockchain with real money. Anyone with internet access and capital can trade. The growth prospects are exponential when we consider baseball-playing states in Asia-Pacific and Latin America. Consoles would not be necessary to buy and own MLB The Show Diamond Dynasty cards. Instead, console owners would have the added benefit of playing The Show with cards that could earn them money.
In this hypothetical scenario, the digital baseball cards can be treated as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to be traded on the blockchain. Such assets would increase or decrease in value based on supply and demand principles and real-time playing performances. Thus, Diamond Dynasty NFTs would function similar to Draft Kings where player performance impacts the price to add them to your squad.
Algorithmic Governance for Player Ratings
This brings us to the next key feature: blockchains can be designed to be autonomous. Sony currently arbitrarily sets the ratings on player cards. The same holds true for EA Sports Ultimate Team cards and NBA2K MyTeam cards. That is why for our hypothetical Diamond Dynasty trading desk, I am prescribing a transparent, autonomous player rating grading system.
With transparency, the community will better understand the logic driving player ratings. An autonomous grading system would be consistent in systematically updating ratings on a programmed schedule. The rating updates on a blockchain can be permissionless, applying rating updates independently without human input.
In practice, this would mean that player ratings for Live Series cards could be built on an unbiased formula. Such a formula could live on the blockchain and rely on real-time stats to update Live Series player ratings. Statcast comes to mind, a leader in advanced metrics, as one reliable data source. Sony, EA, and 2K would no longer unilaterally impact the value of assets in their respective marketplaces if we encourage them to use transparent, automated tools. Such features are strengths found in blockchain technology.
Sports Gaming Microtransactions
Developers and publishing houses have shown the tendency to steer gamers into microtransaction-heavy game modes. NBA2K being a notable culprit. I am advocating to end the system of spending real money on digital assets that possess only limited use-cases.
Sony SDS takes our money, as do other publishing houses, via microtransactions. This is a one-sided dynamic. Moving sports gaming marketplaces to the blockchain allows gamers to benefit financially from the digital assets we love to deploy in-game. Of course, in this instance, Sony may still charge its tax. Still, our re-imagined Diamond Dynasty marketplace is an improvement.
The contract between gamers and publishers can change. Our digital inventories of cards should hold equity and real value, and they can in an open marketplace. Blockchains are being created to manage these kinds of digital assets and inventories right now. Blockchain architecture can balance out the power dynamics between gamer and publisher.
Blockchain architecture can balance out the power dynamics between gamer and publisher.
A Diamond Dynasty marketplace may be the new form of digital activation that Major League Baseball needs to engage fans.
The Scout Scoops Effect
All of us who love fantasy sports are scouts at heart. By introducing MiLB prospects into the NFT world, many of us who love to scout via the internet could financially gain. Fantasy managers that play Draft Kings or gamers who love buying and trading in Diamond Dynasty, the stakes become a bit more real with a blockchain marketplace.
Sites like FanGraphs and others provide immense detail on player metrics used to scout and select fantasy teams. There are fewer barriers to entry for everyday fans to pursue passions and scout the best talent before making an investment on a MiLB NFT card in an open digital marketplace.
MiLB prospects would benefit that are on the come-up. This added benefit promotes knowledge of prospects and benefits buyers who scout the minor leagues heavily. The royalties, in theory, would reach MiLB players who often face financial hardships. With NFTs, MiLB players can bet on themselves and simultaneously create marketplace action.
Minting New Cards
Lastly, a Diamond Dynasty marketplace would not be complete without artists minting their own card designs. Allowing artists to mint cards would keep the marketplace relevant. A quick study of the top 150 cards listed in the Diamond Dynasty Marketplace as of May 26, 2021, shows 41 Live Series cards, 20 Topps Now cards, and the third-highest in this group are Prospects cards at 19. The shared trait amongst these card sets is that they are the most current, relevant cards to date. Community-minted cards would be critical in keeping our dreamed-up marketplace relevant.
A shift to blockchain would be a shift in the nature of sports gaming microtransactions.
We are theorizing, and it is fun to do so. The models do exist to move the MLB The Show Diamond Dynasty marketplace to a blockchain. I understand there are many details to iron out and issues that could arise. For example, I would argue that the cards traded on the blockchain would not be playable in online competitive spaces, eliminating pay-to-play concerns. That is just one example, but I am optimistic that solutions exist.
A shift to blockchain would be a shift in the nature of sports gaming microtransactions. We all stand to benefit from a more equitable sports gaming ecosystem.