Did you miss a session from the GamesBeat Summit 2022? All sessions are now available to stream. look now
The National Football League (NFL), the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), and blockchain game maker Mythical Games today announced a partnership to launch NFL Rivals, a new NFL video game leveraging blockchain technology, at Mythical in early 2023 to start the platform.
Fulfilling the fantasy of being a team general manager, the game allows NFL fans and players alike to use their curated rosters and teams to compete against other GMs to build, level up and improve their roster. Additionally, fans can own, collect and trade non-fungible tokens (NFTs) of their favorite players through this play-and-own gaming experience.
It’s a big moment for blockchain gaming as NFT advocates are still looking for a way to reach mainstream gamers and a licensor like the NFL could be of great help. And Mythical, backed by Andreessen Horowitz, has plenty of credibility, having recently raised $150 million at a $1.25 billion valuation. $270 million has been raised to date.
“With the advent of blockchain technology, we’re excited to partner with Mythical Games on a blockchain-enabled game that offers new play-to-own NFT capabilities and creates a new adventure for fans who enjoy playing soccer games,” said Joe Ruggiero, the NFL’s senior vice president of consumer products, in a statement. “Interest in NFTs and video games among current and prospective fans continues to grow and, collectively, has accelerated the NFL’s exploration of new game models that can offer fans an unparalleled experience.”
Ahead of the launch of the NFL Rivals game, 32 limited collections of unique generative 3D NFL franchise NFTs will be released in a series of drops called “Rarity League”. This officially licensed collection gives owners access to special events, in-game rewards, and other unique features.
Such NFT drops are typical of blockchain games and are intended to generate fan engagement long before an actual game launches.
“Partnering with the NFL to drive new fan and player engagement through fresh game design and the benefits of Web3 is an exciting moment for us,” said Jamie Jackson, chief creative officer at Mythical Games, in a statement. “NFTs with utility can add value to players in-game, and we can’t wait to bring these concepts to NFL Rivals to further evolve the team management genre by adding the benefits of play-and-own games and the Community new ways to connect with their favorite teams and players inside and outside of this virtual world.”
NFL Rivals will launch worldwide for web and mobile in early 2023. Mythical’s founders have helped create major franchises such as Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Guitar Hero, DJ Hero, Marvel Strike Force, and Skylanders.
“NFTs are revolutionizing the fan experience and we’re excited to be working with the imaginative team at Mythical Games to create a whole new blockchain-powered world that puts NFL players at the center,” said Terése Whitehead, Vice President of Consumer Products and Strategy at NFL Players, the marketing and licensing arm of the NFLPA, in a statement.
The Mythical Platform protects players who may be new to the blockchain with a depot wallet for their digital items, while advanced players have the freedom to connect their own wallets via bridges between the Mythical Chain and public mainnets. With its gamer-first focus, Mythical Platform ensures that players don’t need to delve into the intricacies of the blockchain to enjoy owning their digital collections and have a great gaming experience.
Mythical has 287 people. In an email to GamesBeat, NFL Rivals Executive Producer Billy Schautz said, “It is the only NFT game licensed by the NFL. Our mission is to challenge the current status quo of NFL gaming. We focus on the fun, not just the NFT aspect.”
He added: “This is an arcade style game. Not retro, as the players are 3D models on the pitch, but the actions and gameplay are much more arcade-style than a simulation like you’d see in Madden. Negative fan feedback on blockchain games has fueled the notion that NFT game companies need to be more careful and thoughtful.
I asked if the company made any changes to the game details due to the negative reaction of some fans and game developers towards NFT games. Schautz replied: “Yes, it has. Most of the team comes traditionally [free-to-play] Backgrounds with personal interests in blockchain. We challenged ourselves to merge F2P systems with those of the new game and custom systems. (I say play and own vs. typical play to earn because at Mythical we believe it’s all about play first).
GamesBeat’s creed in gaming industry coverage is “where passion meets business”. What does that mean? We want to tell you how important news is to you – not only as a decision maker in a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn more about and enjoy engaging with the industry. Learn more about membership.