Image via Roblox
TECHNOLOGY GAMING & ESPORTS

The State of the NFL Metaverse

Boardroom has the inside story on the league’s latest Roblox activation through its “NFL Tycoon” project and the league’s long-term Web3 plans.

The 2022 NFL Draft kicks off Thursday evening, and NFL Tycoon — the league’s signature experience within the Roblox metaverse — is celebrating with some new virtual merch.

NFL Tycoon is taking the draft to the metaverse by letting players purchase limited-edition NFL New Era Draft Caps inside the game world. There will be 33 caps representing the NFL and its teams available for purchase, including a complimentary league-branded cap unlockable through the in-game placeable New Era Stand.

The caps are being released in three waves. The first drop happened on Monday, April 25, with 19 hat releases for the Raiders, Cowboys, Giants, Commanders, 49ers, Seahawks, Cardinals, Steelers, Ravens, Browns, Chiefs, Broncos, Chargers, Colts, Jaguars, and Texans. The complimentary cap will be released on Friday, April 29.

The final drop will take place on May 2 with the 13 remaining team caps for the Buccaneers, Saints, Panthers, Falcons, Jets, Dolphins, Patriots, Bills, Packers, Bears, Vikings, Lions, and Titans.

NFL Tycoon’s success

The NFL launched its persistent virtual community in Roblox in February to give fans a taste of what it’s like to own and operate a team. Users can build custom stadiums, learn about the business of football, construct team rosters, and compete in games. A league spokesperson told Boardroom that the NFL is the first official major sports league to offer an experience of this magnitude on Roblox.

“In February 2022, the NFL announced an official partnership with Roblox to engage the next generation of NFL football fans in the metaverse with our first persistent experience called NFL Tycoon.  NFL Tycoon aims to teach the game and business side of football while providing a platform for emerging social connectivity,” the spokesperson said. “We’re learning more and more about how fans want to engage with the NFL brand within the metaverse specifically as it relates to live content programming and interactive events.”

The league’s mission with NFL Tycoon is to extend the lifespan of NFL events and activities through the wide-ranging social connectivity of Web3, and it has been doing just that. The Roblox-powered gamification experience has attracted more than 2.5 million unique users since its launch, with over half under the age of 18.

The NFL Tycoon experience will continue to expand with updates to the primary social environment called Central City, more brand collaborations, and New Era activations during this year’s NFL Draft time. NFL Tycoon teased further updates on Twitter.

The NFL’s Web3 vision

The metaverse is still an early exploration for the NFL, the spokesperson said, but the league sees an opportunity to build out a seamless extension of its real-life game experiences. NFL Tycoon could become the league’s virtual hangout destination with activations tied to real-life events.

“We know this is still early days and that the metaverse landscape will continue to rapidly evolve. However, we believe the metaverse, its experiences, and its technology are going to be key in engaging the next generation of fans as more and more of their time is being spent in persistent virtual experiences as a new way to socialize with others and to consume content,” the spokesperson said. “The NFL is continuing to test and learn and [evolve] our approach, which also includes the partners that we work with.”

  The NFL’s first real taste of the metaverse came in 2018 through its partnership with Epic Games and Fortnite. The collaboration included NFL avatar skins representing the 32 league teams. The partnership helped expose NFL fans to the Fortnite brand as well. In February, the NFL separately teamed up with Meta to provide virtual SuperBowl 56 t-shirts for avatars across Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram.

“We are excited about the various explorations we’ve conducted in this space and their early results,” the spokesperson said. “These early tests, along with our work in Roblox, have helped us learn quickly and develop our strategy for partnerships, designs, and prospective categories to execute our objectives of delivering innovation and fan engagement. “

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