The National Football League and the NFL Players Association have partnered with Mythical Games to develop a blockchain game with NFTs called NFL Rivals.
The fantasy football game—where users act as an NFL team’s general manager—will feature all 32 teams and all league players as tradeable NFTs. The game will primarily focus on team building and leveling up with NFTs—unique blockchain tokens that signify ownership of an asset—and is set to debut next year.
Billy Shautz, NFL Rivals' Executive Producer at Mythical Games, shared in an interview with Decrypt that Rivals will be "arcade-style" with 3D models. And because the game is free to play, each user will be given a starter team at first launch.
When it comes to Web3 elements, the game will be "play and earn" as well as "play and own," meaning players can earn tokens as well as NFTs by winning matches or completing set objectives. Shautz shared that while Mythical isn't quite ready to share any details on earning tokens just yet, there are some Ethereum-based token plans for the game.
NFL Rivals will offer a solo gameplay mode and a non-live player vs. player (PVP) mode. In solo, a player will pit their team against a real, existing NFL lineup. In the non-live PVP mode, players can compete against other players' assembled teams. In every match, gamers will be able to choose football plays for their teams to execute in an effort to secure wins.
The NFL has been interested in Mythical Games for a while, with the league’s investment arm, 32 Equity, contributing toward Mythical’s Series C round $150 million back in November.
“We’re really bullish on the potential of blockchain technology to drive future fan engagement,” Joe Ruggiero, the league’s senior vice president of consumer products, told Decrypt in an interview. “We look at this as a real long-term opportunity.”
Ruggiero said NFL Rivals will activate a sense of community among NFL fans, and he sees “a lot of potential for NFTs in the broader video game space.”
But the game’s NFTs may include more than just players, he added, “as part of this will represent items within the game as well as unlock some additional benefits.”
NFL Vice President of Video Gaming Ed Kiang added in an interview with Decrypt that the league will be working “hand-in-hand with the Mythical team” throughout the game’s development.
Mythical Games—now valued at $1.25 billion—has created its own private Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) compatible sidechain for Web3 games like NFL Rivals.
The NFL partnership appears to be a perfect fit for Mythical, whose investors also include a number of sports world heavy hitters like NBA legend Michael Jordan, Fenway Sports Group President Michael Gordon, and the New England Patriots.