Yesterday Nike Virtual Studios unveiled a partnership with EA Sports to enable customized Nike virtual apparel to be used in EA SPORTS games. Notably, neither web3 nor NFTs were mentioned in the announcement, even though that’s the technology involved.
The collaboration is limited to Nike “.SWOOSH” members. That’s a web3 community that Nike set up last November to explore co-creating virtual shoes and jerseys with users. By mid-April, 330,000 people had signed up for free and it launched its first virtual sneaker sale two weeks ago. The SWOOSH membership is still in beta, with access restricted depending on location.
“This partnership will allow us to unlock some incredible new experiences for our .SWOOSH community and the massive EA SPORTS fan base,” said Ron Faris, GM of Nike Virtual Studios.
Nike’s web3 journey
Nike and Electronic Arts have had very different web3 paths until this point. Nike embraced NFTs early, swooping in to buy NFT startup RTFKT in 2021. The startup has sky high production values, with everything it produces looking stunning. So far, together they have launched theCryptoKicks NFT customizable sneaker collection as well as Cryptokicks IRL linked to real shoes.
Amongst major brands, Nike has by far the most NFT sales, both in direct revenue and secondary market resales ($1.3bn by Aug 22). However, the bulk of the sales come from RTFKTs CloneX collection, which is not directly Nike related.
Electronic Arts’ on-off NFT relationship
Turning to Electronic Arts, we previously explored why NFTs could have a huge impact on the company. In 2021 71% of its revenues came from live services. And 29% of total revenues came from added value content in its Ultimate Team mode for sports, where users can build a personalized team including current and former players. These seem well matched to NFTs. It started recruiting web3 staff in 2021.
However, traditional game players disliked NFTs from early on. When Ubisoft unveiled a major game with NFTs there was enormous pushback. So just months after the recruitment adverts, in February 2022, CEO Andrew Wilson had cooled on the topic.
“I believe that collectability will continue to be an important part of our industry and the games and experiences that we offer our players. Whether that’s as part of NFT and the blockchain, well, that remains to be seen,” he said. However, he also stated that he thought NFTs did have a place but needed to be “appropriately tuned”.
This could be why there was no mention of web3 or NFTs in the announcement.