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NFL Creates League’s First Blockchain Game With Mythical

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NFL Creates League’s First Blockchain Game With Mythical

The NFL commissions Mythical Games to develop the league’s first blockchain game called NFL Rivals, a free-to-play arcade-style football gaming experience where users can buy and sell player NFTs to improve their teams. While Mythical Games may not yet be a household name in the sports industry, its backers are as big as they come.

Andreessen Horowitz led Mythical Games’ $150 million Series C funding last November, which also included investments from:

  • Michael Jordan
  • The investment arm of the NFL 32 Equity
  • Jonathan Kraft and The Kraft Group, owners of the New England Patriots
  • OneTeam Partners
  • Michael Gordon of Fenway Sports Group, owner of the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool FC

Other investors include cryptocurrency firms FTX and Binance, as well as Capital RedBirdD1 capital and The Raine Group. The Series C round valued Mythical Games at $1.25 billion.

NFL rivals will enter private beta later this year ahead of its worldwide release for mobile and PC web games in early 2023. This will be Mythical’s first game to be licensed by a major professional sports league, but the NFL was inclined to signing a multi-year contract with the company amid the success of Blankos Block Partyan open-world multiplayer game from Mythical that recently became the first NFT game offered through the Epic Games store.

Ahead of NFL Rivals, Mythical Games is also launching Rarity League, a collection of Officially licensed fan-inspired NFT helmet for all 32 NFL teams. Each team’s helmet drop is limited to 2,500 NFTs that cost 0.14 ETH (Ethereum), currently around $180. Rarity League NFT owners will have access to the NFL Rivals private beta.

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In partnership with Mythical

“Part of the reason we love Mythical so much is what they’ve done with Blankos, they’ve created some really awesome game design at prizes that consumers can participate in, like $9 and $10 paid purchases in fiat instead of having to pay ETH. That’s the experience I think you’re going to see in NFL Rivals,” said NFL Vice President of Video Games Ed Kiang. As for Mythical and Web3 games, it’s generally a younger audience. But there’s also not necessarily the people we’re trying to target – older people, higher disposable incomes who are crypto enthusiasts – that’s not really the segment we’re targeting.

SportTechie’s Joe Lemire recently spoke to Kiang about the NFL’s new virtual reality game, Pro Era. You can read more here.

Mythical’s deal with the NFL is a joint partnership with the NFLPA, players should help promote NFL Rivals. Typical head-to-head matches on NFL Rivals will only last two minutes and will be a mix of simulated gameplay with some screen tapping to control players. The bottom line is that fans can act as general managers by collecting NFTs from players to build their teams for competition against other teams. NFTs will be available at different tiers, with rarer tier player tokens providing better in-game performance.

Part of the reason we love Mythical so much is what they’ve done with Blankos, they’ve created some really great game design at prizes that consumers can participate in, like $9 purchases and $10 paid in fiat instead of having to pay in ETH. That’s the experience I think you’re going to see in NFL Rivals.

The CEO of Mythical Games is John Linden, who previously served as Activision’s studio head and primarily worked on the Call of Duty franchise. Linden spoke on Tuesday in a Twitter Spaces chat hosted by NFT Lately, claiming that Mythical’s development of NFL Rivals was inspired by nostalgia and inspired by 1990s arcade-style games NFL Blitz (first released in 1997) and NBA Jam (first released in 1993). He thinks the fast-paced NFL Rivals will serve a more casual gamer than the league’s signature Madden series of video games from Electronic Arts.

“The crazy part about the Madden franchise is that even though it’s in its 32nd year, it’s not a huge user base. And the reason for that is that it’s not a super accessible game,” said Linden said “It takes a lot of skill, a lot of effort to really understand this game and to be really good at this game. And what we’re doing with NFL Rivals is the NFL has kind of cleared a path with us to create this fan-favorite game,” he added during the Twitter space. “You can pick up the game, play a few rounds, put it down and do it again later. Our goal with the NFL is to put that in the hands of tens of millions of players.

Target Market for NFL Rivals

Linden described the age of NFT players as generally older than Kiang’s target for NFL Rivals. “I would say the average age is definitely in that 18-34 range for Blancos,” Linden said. “We’ve actually seen a lot of players having their kids play with them, we see a lot of videos where they’re playing with their kids. We think the age demographics will be similar across the NFL, 18-34, maybe even 18-45, especially with the collection aspects. We have a couple of things that we’re going to announce with sports memorabilia later, the traditional sports memorabilia companies that we talked about, and I think it’s going to really hit that demographic as well.

Linden added: “We see a lot of people selling their Blancos [NFTs], they end up using that money and they buy more Blancos. So getting in-game cash tends to buy more of it,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a big web3 trend to see – where does that money go? Are they just cash and take, some of them are and that’s fine. We’ve had people who have paid bills with the game and that’s fine too.

A study published in July by the National Research Group found that 67% of sports fans favorite physical memories about digital memories and that 72% of the 3,250 fans surveyed viewed NFTs as “a way to make money”. A separate recent study by MKTG Sports + Entertainment surveyed 350 professionals who work in sports and entertainment, with one in three respondents (30%) saying they “believe NFT exploits fans”. The study also revealed that 73% of industry professionals admit to having “some or little knowledge” of non-fungible tokens.

Enter the blockchain gaming space

“What we want to avoid is creating an NFT project that appears to be a type of speculative NFT art project,” Kiang said. “We have never seen this as a major type of speculative product, so we are not as impacted by fluctuations in the crypto market,” he added. “Our approach has always been to create great games for everyday fans. I think a lot of what we see in the crypto market also mirrors the stock market in general.

NFL Rivals will allow fans to purchase NFT cards and player packs using cryptocurrency, but Kiang expects most users to pay in fiat (like USD) by linking their credit card . Linden estimated that 77% of NFT transactions on Blankos Block Party are paid in fiat currency. The entire cryptocurrency market has lost $2 trillion in market value since its peak in 2021.

Related: More crypto insights will be covered in SportTechie’s upcoming webinar, “Vetting Crypto Partnerships: Spotting Perils and Building Long-Term Success in a Volatile Market.” Register for free here.

“When it comes to crypto as a payment method, we’ve seen strong demand from our customers, say until six months ago,” said JPMorgan Chase’s global head of payments. Takis Georgakopoulos told Bloomberg this week. “We’re seeing very little right now.”

Kiang called free mobile games a “massive part” of the gaming industry, and he expects the NFL to do more in the space. The league also has a partnership with Skillz mobile game developer.

“Value is what you perceive,” Kiang said. “Our partnership with Mythical and what we do with NFL Rivals, the ability to drive value is intrinsically built into the quality of play,” he adds, “if we create truly great gaming experiences in the same way that a free mobile game allows people to understand the value of the characters in the game and the boosts available in the game, so I think they’ll want to spend to really express their fandom with the items they can buy. think it’s the same with blockchain-based games.

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