Spanish game company Champions Games, which previously created a fantasy football game, is looking to launch a football inspired play-to-earn game that uses blockchain, MetaSoccer. Players build virtual soccer teams, independent of real-world teams and leagues. The strategy game raised €2 million ($2.3m) before the official launch from investors, including Play Ventures, Defiance Capital, Parafi Capital, DAO Maker, and Metrix Capital.
Play-to-earn games have become popular over the past year because of the rise of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and blockchain features in games. The top three most successful games of this kind, Axie Infinity, Decentraland, and The Sandbox, all have a crypto market capitalization above $5 billion. However, all three are 3D games in virtual worlds. While MetaSoccer uses the term metaverse, it is primarily a management and strategy game rather than kicking a ball in 3D.
The game’s structure appeals to football fans and gamers alike, expanding the initiative’s target audience beyond crypto enthusiasts. In addition, the game’s roadmap explicitly includes sports betting, a sector that is expected to reach $140 billion by 2028. On the flipside, this will catch the eye of regulators and reduce the appropriate player age range.
How it works
Users can purchase in-game assets, such as players and stadiums minted as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) using MetaSoccer Universe token, MSU. Users “train” their players and “play” against other teams. The play-to-earn component resembles the real football industry because users can make money from selling their players, whose value is based on performance, or renting out stadiums. Users will also be able to earn money through sponsorships.
Most football games on the market are in partnership with real clubs and the games’ character players are digital versions of actual athletes. MetaSoccer’s product differs in that users will manage teams with no features of real-world football, creating a digital league of their own. This might end up being more attractive to gamers than football fans as it divides real from digital football as opposed to merging the two together. However, it may also set a new standard for football games.
According to Champions Games COO, Patxi Barrios, the goal of the game “is to create a new generation of digital native football players and clubs, which in the coming years will achieve similar ratings to those of professional football leagues. Ultimately, we aspire for the next Messi to be born in the metaverse and play on a platform like ours.”
But “play” involves a simulated game. It doesn’t involve kicking a 3D football.
Despite the growth opportunities, the play-to-earn industry also has issues. One concern is that these kinds of games become more exploitative than entertaining. In addition, it is undeniable that the hype around NFTs in the last few months will eventually die down to some extent. When that happens, there’s a good chance the capitalizations of blockchain games will fall, at least for a while, and this will have knock-on effect on the play-to-earn sector.
MetaSoccer’s advantage is that its target is beyond the crypto industry, which might help developers keep the focus on the actual game structure. It remains to be seen how much it will be affected by the volatility of the NFT industry.
Meanwhile, play-to-earn game developer Mythical Games raised $150 million at a $1.25 billion valuation, Animoca’s Sandbox raised $93 million, and both Animoca and a16z have invested in play-to-earn community Yield Guild.