Tuesday, September 26, 2023

The First Officially Licensed NFL Blockchain Game Is NFT Rivals

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While we’re still not sure exactly what 2K will do with its “non-simulation” NFL license (the arcade-style game is delayed and will not be released this year), the competition fills that void by announcing a partnership to build its first blockchain game, NFL Rivals† It’s hard to say exactly what the game will be like, but here’s the description:

Realizing the fantasy of a team general manager, this fun, easy-to-play game allows NFL fans and gamers to compete against other GMs with their curated player rosters and teams, and build, level and to improve. In addition, this play-and-own gaming experience allows fans to own, collect and trade non-fungible tokens (NFTs) of their favorite players.

There are no screenshots and no trailer available, but NFL Rivals has already announced “Rarity League” drops, which are 32 collections of “unique generative 3D NFL franchise-themed NFTs” that will be released before the game comes out.

Based on that description, it seems destined to fall somewhere on the scale between a Football Manager for North American football fans and just fantasy football, presumably without the madden franchises ultimate team modes that already allow people to build rosters, earn rewards, and improve their lineup.

NFL Rivals will launch on the web and mobile web in early 2023 and, like any Web3 project, has a Discord available so people stay informed, whether those updates come from the team or from phishing attackers.

Image: Mythical Games

In a press release, Jamie Jackson, chief creative officer of Mythical Games, said: “NFTs with utility can add value to players in-game, and we can’t wait to bring these concepts to NFL Rivals to advance the team management genre through the benefits of play. -and-own games, offering the community new ways to interact with their favorite teams and players in and outside this virtual world.”

The company says it “protects” gamers new to the blockchain by using a custodial wallet, meaning you don’t have to delve into the intricacies of the blockchain to play. However, that kind of configuration is controversial among many Web3 fans who argue that if you don’t own the keys to your wallet, you don’t really own what’s in it. Mythical allows “advanced” players to link their existing wallets through bridges between the Mythical Chain and public mainnets, but as we’ve seen with the NFT game axie infinity, that was hacked for more than $600 million that no one noticed was missing for nearly a week – bridges can add another potential point of failure for security.

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 $150 million invested the company at the end of last year. For its part, Mythical Games is led by game industry veterans with experience in developing Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Guitar Hero, and several other notable game franchises that we remember. In a blog postpraised a16z Mythical’s ability to build AAA titles like Blankos Block Partywhich has been available in Early Access since June 2021 and has since expanded to include a very familiar looking new mode.

Andreessen Horowitz leader Chris Dixon appeared on the Decoder podcast to describe why he thinks these platforms represent the future of the internet and said this about gaming:

Well, I think there are two things with NFTs. First, I think it is architecturally very different from other objects on the web in that most objects are controlled by an application and NFTs are controlled by users. It changes the polarity, and I think that’s important. As we see the rise of Web3 gaming, you will see a very different class of things where people own characters and other types of objects that they can take in different experiences. Rather than being in an app, it is at the user level. There is an architectural aspect, and there is a social aspect. Why do people value wearing fashion – like Supreme T-shirts – or cars? A lot of value in the world is about showing that you’re early for something, that you have high status, and that you have great taste.

The NFT culture is very familiar in the offline world, only applied to the online world. Instead of just saying you were a musician’s first fan, you can now prove you were the first fan by purchasing their NFT. It could be wrong, but we bet people appreciate that. Early signs show that people value these things in the same way that they value things in the offline world that convey status or taste. There’s also a community aspect to these things, like with Discords. My wife has a CryptoPunk and she goes to CryptoPunk breakfasts and CryptoPunk gatherings. It’s a culture.

For me, there are two aspects that make NFTs different. First, you actually own it architecturally as you would a domain name. If you don’t like how someone is treating your NFT, you can just take it away. That’s not true on the internet these days; everything is contained in an application or a website. Second, you can have different social cues that people can see when you own something. This applies to everything from taste and status, to being an early adopter, to whatever the specific design of the community NFT may be.

NFL senior vice president of consumer products Joe Ruggiero said in today’s release, “With the rise of blockchain technology, we are excited to partner with Mythical Games on a blockchain-enabled game that delivers new play-to-own NFT capabilities, bringing a new adventure for fans who love football. Interest in NFTs and video gaming among current and future fans continues to grow and combined have accelerated the NFL’s exploration of new game models that can provide fans with an unparalleled experience.”

Promises of digital ownership and exclusive releases that come before we see a second of gameplay footage help highlight some of the reasons NFTs have received such a negative response from gamers. The madden games and fantasy football are popular among 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 allure of ownership which is much like an offer to become an entrepreneur by selling knives, leggings, or prepaid legal insurance.

There’s no game to talk about yet, just hype and a few JPGs, but the NFL and its crypto-invested partners are more than ready to buy you in.

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