Semper Fortis Esports PLC (AQSE:SEMP) has signed a competitive esports player as the first to compete in its play-to-earn division, where players will be incentivised to compete on behalf of the company for cryptocurrency-based returns in the form of NFTs.
The company’s esports team, SMPR, has signed Aleksei Bakumenko, known professionally as ‘Iner’, on an initial three-month contract to compete in NFT trading and battling game Axie Infinity and digital collectible card game Hearthstone. The contract, which has an option to review for an additional six months, has an annual salary and performance-based incentives
In Axie Infinity, developed by Vietnamese studio Sky Mavis and is nearing 2mln daily active users, players collect, breed, raise, battle and trade creatures known as ‘axies’, which are digitized as NFTs.
Semper Fortis said the game uses a model known as play-to-earn or pay-to-play-to-earn, where participants can earn a token which is traded on Binance as an Ethereum-based cryptocurrency, with players able to exchange in-game assets as NFTs and to cash-out these tokens for monetary gains every 14 days.
Semper Fortis said the appointment made it one of the first professional esports companies to enter the play-to-earn market and will look to expand through further development and recruitment to earn NFT based rewards through games as a revenue model.
Chief executive Kevin Soltani said: “Semper Fortis is determined to revolutionise the play to earn space, in merging it with competitive esports play. Our latest signing will pioneer our strategy to build out the SMPR play-to-earn division, opening doors for a new pool of players entering the esports space and diversifying the company’s revenue model. Gaming and blockchain are two of the fastest growing industries and with our team being highly experienced in both, we are geared for an exciting season ahead.”
Bakumenko is ranked ninth worldwide in the Hearthstone game, the free-to-play game published by Blizzard Entertainment, which is played as an esport in tournaments such as Blizzard’s official World Championship, which features a prize pool of up to US$1mln.
The addition of the ninth active players to SMPR’s roster, adds a player with a “distinguished digital footprint” and a significant following in his competitive region of Russia, a market there Semper Fortis said it sees as a large opportunity to capture in the esports space.
Nolan Bushnell, a non-executive director at the company, added: “The play-to-earn movement is currently in rapid growth and we are very excited to see its evolving nature in the world of competitive esports.”