It’s official: Fnatic are pleased to announce our first ever membership programme, officially kicking off in March 2022.
The programme follows the launch of Fnatic ID platform, the home for our fans, and is designed to bridge the gap between our community and the wider Fnatic ecosystem, providing an opportunity to connect with the brand and its players and creators in completely new ways.
The membership programme will be available in three tiers, each with its own set of benefits, and features, being: Citizen (free), Core ($250) and Pioneer ($600).
Depending on the tier acquired, rewards include chances to attend private digital and physical events, meet and greets with the Fnatic pro-player and creator rosters, Fnatic shop discounts, an annual mystery loot-box worth at least $100 and a pro-jersey annually.
The Fnatic community will be able to access discounts and early access to the keys. For the first release of Fnatic’s membership programme, Citizen keys will be unlimited until 8th April, whilst Core and Pioneer keys will be limited on a first-come, first-serve basis. The full list of rewards and features for each tier can be found on the Fnatic memberships page here.
We spoke with Fnatic’s Chief Executive Officer, Sam Mathews, to offer more insight into what fans can expect from this unique launch.
Why did Fnatic decide to launch a membership programme?
It’s no secret that for any esports organisation worth their salt, (and brands more generally), community is everything. Fans empower our progression and we couldn’t exist without them.
Fnatic’s membership programme is our way of bringing fans closer to us and letting them have a say in where we go next. This means having your voice amplified, alongside perks and rewards for being passionate advocates.
We want our fans to feel a deep sense of belonging to Fnatic, our membership programme allows for a much richer connection and relationship with them for the long-term.
Why are there different tiers? Couldn’t this have just been a free membership?
When we first began talking about this as a company, we ran a poll in our Discord and Reddit to speak with our community. Not only did we get a strongly favourable response to it, we got a dream list of rewards that our community wanted.
Custom jerseys, loot boxes of signed merch and gear, meet and greets with our pro-team, early access to our drops, backstage access at events and so on. Now whilst some of these rewards do cost a lot of money, other rewards can be done in a way that’s fairly manageable for us as a business
This is why a free option was created, where you get an impressive amount of value, alongside paid tiers. Our free Citizen key gives you early access to all our future drops, a 5% discount code on our shop, and exclusive access to one-of-a-kind community and fan events.
The paid-for tiers exist so we can provide even more value at each stage, and cater to all fans. For example, the Pioneer key grants you a Pro-Kit Jersey and a Fnatic loot box worth up to $100, every year. Alongside loads of other incredible perks, with just the annual jersey and loot box alone you’d make your money back after 2.5 years!
Why couldn’t this have been done with a traditional subscription-based model, rather than being built on NFT blockchain technology?
Firstly, with a subscription-based model, you’re essentially “renting” your membership. You never own it. Once you stop paying each month, the value you hold is simply the positive memories and experiences you received whilst being a member, but all the money you invested is gone. With our memberships, you can now fully own it for as long as you hold the key. And yes that also means you have the freedom to sell it on the open market!
Secondly, if we ran this as a subscription-based model, we wouldn’t be able to offer the same high value perks (annual Pro-Kit jersey, mystery loot box etc) because the perks would need to be available monthly vs once a year. Since it’s a set amount of people who will hold the key, we can use claim windows to commit more value into the membership programme from the very beginning!
How does the tech work behind the keys?
In order to facilitate true ownership of the keys, and allowing the ability for our community to hold or sell their key as they want, we’re utilising blockchain technology. Specifically utilising a non-fungible token or NFT allows the membership keys to have unique traits and at the same time prove that it’s you that holds the key when you connect it into Fnatic ID. It ties directly in with the future integrations on our site and apps for further benefits.
To do this we’re working with a ‘proof-of-stake’ blockchain called Polygon. Using this type of chain drastically reduces energy usage vs ‘proof-of-work’ blockchains like Ethereum.
Isn’t using blockchain technology damaging the environment?
We made the decision to build our memberships on a ‘proof-of-stake’ blockchain called Polygon. Using this type of network drastically reduces energy usage vs ‘proof-of-work’ blockchains like Ethereum or Bitcoin.
According to Polygon’s most recent calculations, the carbon cost of transactions like ours on their network is around 66 grams of CO2.
To put that in context, an hour of gaming can be anywhere from 50-250g grams of CO2 depending on where your electricity comes from, on a 250w PC (European Environment Agency).
Is this an nft cash-grab?
Sadly there are a lot of sharks out there, in the gaming world too, that have created ponzi-schemes or scam “profile picture projects” where you’re buying a piece of art based on hype, with no substance later.
Our membership programme is the opposite of that. This was planned over a long period of time, with a long term vision. The intrinsic value that’s built into these keys is going to be of interest to millions of Fnatic fans and even the wider gamer. I do think the keys look cool visually, and hopefully our fans do too, but that has nothing to do with the value they provide. We want you to hold these keys for as long as you’re a fan, because benefits mean something to you. The “NFT” label does us a big disservice, we’re more interested in the technology.
Also don’t forget our Citizen key, which is free and still offers great value and rewards just by virtue of you being a Fnatic fan
What will you do with the money you make from this?
The majority of all revenue will go back into covering the cost of the perks available across different membership tiers (e.g. annual pro-kit jersey, mystery loot box, physical membership cards, digital/physical event production etc).
We’re also working closely with our pro-player and creator rosters to create community-driven activations as part of our membership programme (e.g. physical/digital meet and greets, playing with our pros, community tournaments with prizes, collaborative merch, premium content etc).
Anything else will go back into investing in our core performance operations as an esports organisation; such as multi-year pro-player signings, our youth academy and high-performance training facilities.
What’s the longer-term vision for your membership programme?
The long-term vision is to build the best membership programme for a brand community in the world. That means premium and behind-the-scenes content from our pro-players, community-focused physical events around the world, digital and physical limited edition drops, potentially even a festival if that’s what our fans want.
We have our own strong beliefs in how profound the impact blockchain technology will have within gaming. When I started Fnatic back in 2004 I had a vision of how big esports would become which many people scoffed at, but here we stand today. The same is true of how we see WEB3 and the metaverse merging with gaming and how that’s going to reshape the relationship we have with our fans, and how many millions more gamers will be able to make a living doing what they love.
Already games like The Sandbox and Axie Infinity are showing what this technology can do in its early infancy within gaming. We’re so early to this new frontier but we will be able to build on the utility and value of our digital membership keys by integrating with these types of platforms and games long into the future.