How STAN is building an NFT universe around esports in BGMI (PUBG), Free Fire, and more

Launched in 2022, STAN is building a platform for fans, gaming creators, and esports players to collect, play, and engage with their favourite esports influencers, acquire gaming-related collectibles, earn rewards, and more.
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Did you know that esports - a form of organised, multiplayer video games - is rapidly becoming popular in India? 

In fact, the revenue from the India esports market is estimated to grow from Rs 250 crore in 2021 to Rs 1,100 crore in 2025, as per Statista data.

Gamers, streamers, and professional esports players and fans playing and watching esports are contributing to this growth, alongside the tremendous popularity of games such as Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI), Gareena Free Fire, etc.

For the startup STAN, the growing esports market presents an opportunity to build a platform for fans, gaming creators, and esports players to collect, play, and engage with their favourite esports influencers, acquire gaming-related collectibles, earn rewards, and more.

Started by Parth Chadha, Akshat Rathee, Rahul Singh, Shubham Gupta, and Nauman Mulla, STAN also allows users to get signed merchandise from esport celebrities, get a chance to visit creators’ or streamers’ boot camps, meet them on Instagram lives, join them one-on-one on clubs, and more.

STAN’s platform is built on top of the Polygon blockchain, and enables engagement for its users through fun gamified loopable layers on the platform.

In an interview with The Decrypting Story, Parth says: “Esports players have become celebs and have built massive fanbases with millions of subscribers. We saw the growing need to connect esports fans with their idols. Till now, it was only possible to go to YouTube and donate to gamers, whereas Patreon does not focus on gaming.”

He adds, “For STAN, blockchain is the tech that enables trust and ownership over assets, such as officially licensed NFTs from esports players. End users can not only collect these NFTs, but also use them in games on the STAN platform, and level up to earn rewards.”

A STAN app illustration

Intersection of Web3 and sport

STAN, started in 2022, raised $2.5 million in a seed round in May.

The round was led by General Catalyst, alongside other venture capital firms, including Better Capital and Eximius Ventures.

Angels such as Aadil Mamujee from OpenSea , and Nakul Gupta from Coinbase also participated in the round.

STAN is yet to launch its platform at full scale, but has already signed up with 60+ leading names in the Indian esports universe. Some of these include player names such as Jonathan, 4200P, Roxx, Neyo, Attanki, and more.

While there are some Indian startups exploring business opportunities at the intersection of sports and Web3, STAN seems to be taking a different approach.

The likes of Rario and FanCraze are betting big on cricket NFTs, which are based on real-life cricket players playing a physical sport. 

STAN, however, is focusing on esport players - the digital counterparts of physical players. And in the world of esports, the possibilities are practically endless, as players can do more inside action-packed games such as Call of Duty, Fortnite, BGMI, etc that are not possible in real life.

Transitioning the gaming sector to Web3

It is a well-known fact that India has a huge number of online gamers. Around 433 million of the 846 million internet users play games in India, but a significant majority of them are not into esports. 

However, with the popularity of esports slowly rising, STAN is looking to capitalise on the influx of esport fans as well as cater to the existing contingent of gamers. To do this, Parth admits a Web3-only approach will not work.

“Esport games and gamer NFTs and other assets are not meant for crypto traders to buy and sell. They are meant for gaming fans, who don’t really need to know whether the assets are tangible or non-fungible. So, we follow a ‘Web 2.5’ approach - where we find the middle ground between applying traditional Web2 gaming/esports principles and blockchain tech,” Parth says.

What does this mean?

Parth explains that Web 2.5 is a way to transition Web2 esports fans into the world of Web3 in a simple manner. On STAN, users can purchase in-game coins by paying in fiat (INR). Then, they can use the in-game currency to purchase on-chain items such as NFTs.

“This is unlike other projects, which typically require users to have a Web3 wallet like MetaMask, and link it to the gaming platform,” Parth says.

The STAN team

Future plans

After purchasing NFTs, users can spend time in and engage with the STAN universe, which will feature more games over time. With more time spent and achievements unlocked, users can level up their NFTs, which they can sell on the STAN marketplace - an upcoming initiative.

“Ultimately, STAN has to be both an engagement/utility layer and economic layer. So we are building one game at a time to bring more utility to the NFTs, as well as the marketplace to trade them,” Parth says.

Going forward, STAN plans to continue building its community of esports celebs and fans, and unlock various possible channels of revenues. 

Some of the possible income streams for STAN include branding opportunities, selling usage rights of in-game assets, driving engagement for Web2 streaming platforms, launching its own NFT collection, and more.

Edited by Teja Lele