Today the NFL, NFL Players Association (NFLPA) and Mythical Games announced NFL Rivals, a blockchain-based video game to launch in 2023 where gamers take on the team manager role. A big part of the game is for fans to own and collect non-fungible tokens (NFTs) of players.
Unlike Madden, the emphasis is on the game being more arcade-style than simulation, and it’s billed as easy to play.
“The interest in NFTs and video gaming amongst current and prospective fans continues to grow and combined have accelerated the NFL’s exploration of new gaming models that can deliver an unmatched experience to fans,” said Joe Ruggiero, SVP of Consumer Products at the NFL.
Before the game launch, there are plans to drop 32 collections of 3D NFL-themed NFTs. Apart from in-game rewards, the NFT will also enable access to special events.
“NFTs with utility can add value to players in-game, and we can’t wait to bring these concepts to NFL Rivals to evolve the team management genre by adding the advantages of play-and-own games, offering the community new ways to engage with their favorite teams and players both in and outside this virtual world,” said Jamie Jackson, Chief Creative Officer, Mythical Games.
Notably, Mythical Games refers to play-and-own as opposed to play-to-earn, hinting that it’s planning a different approach compared to other blockchain games. There’s been some backlash from mainstream gamers against blockchain-based play-to-earn games, with Ubisoft, in particular, getting significant resistance, despite being careful in its approach.
Because of this pushback, licensing games for a mainstream audience is not without risks. Meanwhile, Mythical raised a $150 million Series C funding in November that valued the company at $1.25 billion. That was shortly after it launched its first game Blancos Block Party.
After an initially cautious start, the NFL is now forging ahead with blockchain and NFTs. The primary NFT license holder is Dapper Labs which runs the NFL All Day platform with licensed video moments. Ticketmaster mints NFTs as collectibles for many NFL tickets, and the NFL licensed Panini to issue trading cards as NFTs. Additionally, the NFLPA has a fantasy deal with DraftKings for NFTs.
Another company targeting fan-based games is Green Park, although it’s targeting mobile games. It has partnerships with the NBA and soccer leagues MLS and LaLiga.