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Nifty Games has raised $12 million in funding to make mobile sports games starting with NFL Clash, a new game licensed by the National Football League.

The mobile game has official licenses from the NFL and NFL Players Association. NFL Clash will launch later this year as a mobile-first title, and is already being tested by some fans. And while it isn’t revealing the gameplay yet, the company described it as “Supercell style,” meaning mobile strategy games like Clash Royale.

Game veterans Jon Middleton and Pete Wanat started the San Francisco company to make head-to-head sports games. Nifty Games previously announced a partnership with the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) to bring an NBA basketball game to mobile devices in the near future.

Middleton said in an interview with GamesBeat that NFL Clash is an innovative take on mobile football games, offering fans a new way to play head-to-head football game in just minutes. With mobile-first game design, NFL Clash lets people play wherever they are. Nifty Games is focused on delivering NFL fans fast, yet deep gameplay specifically designed for mobile, Middleton said.


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“NFL Clash will seek the widest possible audience for football,” Middleton said.

The founders said they feel a gap exists in the market for sports fans who want an experience that can last four or five minutes, rather than hours. In this kind of game, players can play against each other in real time. And it could be important as a way for sports fans to scratch an itch when they can’t even watch sports on TV.

“As bad as it is and the obviously much-needed quarantine and the cancellation of sports, it’s been very cool to watch the fact that sports video games have risen to the occasion to satisfy fans,” Middleton said. “It’s an ancillary product that is filling the shoes of the main product that can’t be played.”

“You see ESPN broadcasting the 2K League with NBA players at the controls,” Middleton said.

Wanat added, “What NASCAR has done with their simulation racing on TV is so unbelievably great.”

Not a simulation

NFL Clash is the first mobile game coming from Nifty Games.

Above: NFL Clash is the first mobile game coming from Nifty Games.

Image Credit: Nifty Games

The big rival, of course, is Electronic Arts’ NFL Madden games, which are available across all platforms including mobile, where Nifty Games is focused. To date, mobile sports games have been casual mini-games or simulations migrated from gaming consoles.

“The landscape of football games has always traditionally been simulation-based,” said Wanat. “They are doing a great job. We grew up playing Madden. We love those games. But when it comes to mobile free to play, the NFL was looking for a game that is a more casual experience, but still has all the authenticity that an NFL and an NFLPA game can bring to bear.”

That means it won’t have tons of plays and every rule like simulation games do. This is “infinitely more accessible,” Wanat said. “We want it to be infinitely more playable and a much quicker session to play. So that you can jump in, have a blast, and play multiple times.”

“Even the folks who do play Madden can play,” Middleton said. “We’re looking to boil down the authentic emotional attachment to the NFL and its players in a 4 minute-to-5 minute game.”