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NFL Taps Mythical Games for First Play-to-Earn Venture

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The National Football League (NFL) is once again wading into uncharted crypto territory, this time with the launch of its own play-to-earn game in partnership with Mythical Games, the league announced Wednesday.

The web and mobile game will be called NFL Rivals, with a release date sometime in early 2023, according to a press release.

The game will run on the Mythical Chain blockchain, kicked off by the sales of 32 franchise-themed non-fungible token (NFT) collections to be announced at a later date.

The NFTs will grant their owners access to “special events and in-game rewards” tied up with the league’s larger plans to integrate Web 3 into its fan experience.

The game itself is described as a general manager simulator, with users being able to build and develop their own teams with the league’s players being tradable as NFTs, according to a press release.

Mythical Games touts a “gamers first” approach to its interface, leaving its underlying tech largely behind the scenes in bid to attract mainstream users. The company raised a $150 million funding round at a $1.25 billion valuation last December led by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z).

“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,” Joe Ruggiero, senior vice president of consumer products at the NFL, said in a statement. “The interest in NFTs and video gaming amongst current and prospective fans continues to grow.”

While all of the major American sports leagues are dabbling in crypto, the partnership will be the first time a league launches its own play-to-earn game. The next closest partnership is between Major League Baseball (MLB) and fantasy NFT platform Sorare, whose game has yet to be released.

The NFL already has a slew of Web 3 products in motion, including a ticketing collectible platform on Polygon and Flow, a Dapper Labs-built NFT collectible marketplace a la NBA Top Shot and 13 franchise social token partnerships with Socios.

A representative of the league had previously told CoinDesk that each of its NFT ventures remains separate in its execution, with the teams of each project having little to no contact.

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