While we still don’t know exactly what 2K will do with its “non-simulation” NFL license (the arcade-style game has been delayed and won’t be releasing this year), the league is filling that gap by forming a partnership mit announces building its first blockchain game, NFL rivals. It’s hard to say exactly what the game will be, but here’s the description:
Fulfilling the fantasy of being a team general manager, this fun, easy-to-play game allows NFL fans and players alike to use their curated rosters and teams to compete against other GMs to build, rank up, and improve their rosters. Additionally, fans can own, collect and trade non-fungible tokens (NFTs) of their favorite players through this play-and-own gaming experience.
There are no screenshots and no trailer available, however NFL rivals has previously announced “Rarity League” drops, which are 32 collections of “unique generative 3D NFL franchise-themed NFTs” that will be released before the game launches.
Based on that description it seems destined to be somewhere on the scale between a football manager for North American soccer fans and normal fantasy soccer, presumably without stepping on them Driving me crazy Franchise Ultimate Team modes that already allow players to create rosters, earn rewards, and improve their lineup.
NFL Rivals will launch on web and mobile in early 2023, and like every Web3 project, it has a Discord to help people keep up to date, whether those updates are from the team or from phishing attackers.
In a press release, Mythical Games Chief Creative Officer Jamie Jackson said, “NFTs with utility can add value to players in-game, and we can’t wait to bring these concepts to NFL Rivals to further develop the team management genre by we’re adding the benefits of play-and-own gaming, giving the community new ways to connect with their favorite teams and players inside and outside of this virtual world.”
The company says it “protects” players who are new to the blockchain by using a depot wallet, meaning you don’t have to delve into the intricacies of the blockchain to play. However, this type of setup is controversial among many Web3 fans, who argue that if you don’t have the keys to your wallet, you don’t really own what’s inside. Mythical allows “advanced” players to connect their existing wallets via bridges between its Mythical chain and public mainnets, but as we saw with NFT play axi Infinity, hacked for over $600 million that no one noticed was missing for almost a week – Bridges may add another potential security flaw.
Like many of the companies we’ve heard of working on blockchain and Web3 projects, it’s backed financially by massive investments from Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) and other venture capitalists who put $150 million into the company late last year have invested. For its part, Mythical Games is run by gaming industry veterans with development experience Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Guitar Hero, and some other notable gaming franchises that we remember. In a blog post, a16z touted Mythical’s ability to play AAA titles such as Blank block partywhich has been in Early Access since June 2021 and has since been expanded to include a very familiar looking new mode.
Andreessen Horowitz leader Chris Dixon appeared on the decoder podcast recently to describe why he believes these platforms represent the future of the internet and said the following about gaming:
Well I think there are two things about NFTs. First, I think it’s very different architecturally from other objects on the Internet, in the sense that most objects are controlled by an application and NFTs are controlled by users. It switches polarity, and I think that’s important. As we see the rise of Web3 games, you’ll see a whole different class of things where people own characters and other types of objects that they can take into different experiences. Instead of being included in an app, it’s included at the user level. There is an architectural aspect and a social aspect. Why do people wear fashion—like Supreme t-shirts—or cars? A lot of value in the world is showing that you’re a little early, that you’re high status, and that you have great taste.
NFT culture is very familiar in the offline world, just carried over to the online world. Instead of just saying you were a musician’s first fan, you can now prove you were their first fan by buying their NFT. It might be wrong, but we bet people will appreciate that. Early indications are that people value these things just as much as they value things that convey status or taste in the offline world. There’s also a community aspect to these things, like Discords. My wife has a CryptoPunk and she goes to CryptoPunk breakfasts and CryptoPunk meetings. It’s a culture.
For me there are two aspects that make NFTs different. First, architecturally, you really own it like a domain name. If you don’t like how someone is handling your NFT, you can just push it away. That no longer applies to the Internet today; everything is contained in one application or one website. Second, it allows you to have different social signals for people to see when you own something. This applies to everything from taste and status to the fact that you are an early adopter to the special design of the community NFT.
Joe Ruggiero, NFL’s senior vice president of consumer products, said in today’s release, “With the advent of blockchain technology, we are extremely excited to be collaborating with Mythical Games on a blockchain-enabled game, the new play-to-own NFT features and creates a new adventure for fans who love playing football games. Interest in NFTs and video games among current and potential fans continues to grow and collectively has accelerated the NFL’s exploration of new game models that can offer fans an unparalleled experience.”
Digital ownership promises and exclusive releases that come before we see a second of gameplay footage help highlight some of the reasons why NFTs have received such negative reaction from players. That Driving me crazy Gaming and fantasy football are popular with fans for social experiences that allow people to enjoy their favorite sport with their friends. Exactly how that might work on this platform is unclear, aside from the lure of ownership, which sounds a lot like an offer to become an entrepreneur by selling knives, leggings, or prepaid legal insurance.
There’s no game to speak of just yet, just hype and a few JPGs, but the NFL and its crypto-invested partners are more than ready to buy in.