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The National Football League (NFL), NFL Players Association (NFLPA) and blockchain game maker Mythical Games today announced a partnership to launch NFL Rivals, a new NFL video game that leverages blockchain technology, on the Mythical Platform in early 2023.
Delivering on the fantasy of being a team general manager, the game will allow NFL fans and gamers alike to compete against other GMs with their assembled player rosters and teams, building, leveling up, and improving their lineup. In addition, fans will be able to own, collect, and trade non-fungible tokens (NFTs) of their favorite players through this play-and-own game experience.
It’s a big moment for blockchain games since NFT advocates are still looking for a way to reach mainstream gamers, and a licensor like the NFL could be a big help. And Mythical, backed by Andreessen Horowitz, has a lot of cred as it recently raised $150 million at a $1.25 billion valuation. To date, it has raised $270 million.
“With the rise of blockchain technology, we are thrilled to partner with Mythical Games on a blockchain-enabled game that delivers new play-to-own NFT capabilities, creating a new adventure for fans who love to play football games,” said Joe Ruggiero, senior vice president of consumer products at the NFL, in a statement. “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.”
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Ahead of the NFL Rivals game launch, 32 limited-quantity collections of unique generative 3D NFL franchise-themed NFTs will be released in a series of drops called “Rarity League.” This officially licensed collection will provide owners access to special events, in-game rewards, and other unique features.
Such NFT drops are typical for blockchain games and they’re intended to generated fan engagement well ahead of the launch of an actual game.
“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 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.”
NFL Rivals will launch globally for web and mobile web in early 2023. Mythical’s founders have helped develop major franchises including 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 collaborate with the imaginative team at Mythical Games to create a whole new blockchain-based world in which NFL players take center stage.” said Terése Whitehead, vice president of consumer products and strategy at NFL Players, the marketing and licensing arm of the NFLPA, in a statement.
Mythical Platform protects gamers that may be new to blockchain through a custodial wallet for their digital items, while allowing advanced players the freedom to link their own wallets via bridges between the Mythical Chain and public mainnets. With its “gamers-first” focus, the Mythical Platform ensures players don’t need to dive into the intricacies of blockchain to enjoy ownership of their digital collections and have a great game experience.
Mythical has 287 people. In an email to GamesBeat, Billy Schautz, executive producer of NFL Rivals, said, “It is the only NFL licensed NFT game. Our mission is to challenge the current status quo of NFL games. We’re all in on the fun, not just the NFT aspect.”
He added, “This is an arcade-style game. Not retro as the players on the field are 3D models, but the actions and gameplay are much more arcade-style than simulation like you’d see in Madden. Negative fan feedback toward blockchain games has raised the notion that NFT game companies have to be more careful and deliberate.
I asked if the company had made changes to the game details due to the negative reaction of some fans and game devs to NFT games. Schautz replied, “Yes it has. The majority of the team comes from traditional [free-to-play] backgrounds with personal interests in blockchain. We’ve challenged ourselves to merge F2P systems with that of the new play and own systems. (I say play and own vs the typical play to earn, as we at Mythical believe it’s all about the game first).”
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