Why EA Sports and Nike Think NFT Games Can Really Work This Time – Ars Technica
After much hype from game makers in 2021, major publishers have been relatively quiet on the idea of integrating non-fungible tokens into their games since the collapse of Ubisoft’s “Quartz Digits” platform last year. But EA Sports this week proves that the gaming industry hasn’t completely abandoned blockchain-based collector technology, announcing a collaboration with Nike’s “.Swoosh” NFT platform to allow players to “express their personal style through play.”
Details are still scarce, with Nike saying more information will be available “in the coming months.” But the company said in a statement that “select virtual .Swoosh creations” will “unlock entirely new levels of customization within the EA SPORTS ecosystem” and give players “unique new opportunities for self-expression and creativity through sport and style.”
In other words, it sounds like you’ll soon be able to slip on your NFT Nike sneakers Madden team.
Why this time might be different
As skeptical as we’ve been of previous attempts to integrate NFTs into games, this partnership can avoid some of the field’s most common pitfalls. First, Nike is already an established brand with legions of sneakerheads following their every move. And those fans have already shown at least some willingness to invest in digital swag bearing Nike’s iconic swoosh. The company’s first “Virtual Sneaker Drop” – with “digital renderings” of the company’s iconic Air Force 1 line — reached over $1 million in sales to early beta users in less than a week, according to CoinDesk.
These NFTs could become even more valuable to Nike fans if and when they can be used to unlock digital drips in EA Sports titles. And these kinds of “real-world clothing” cosmetics also seem like items that might be relatively easy for other developers and publishers to integrate into their own games (as opposed to Ubisoft’s difficult, serialized virtual items). That means other publishers could theoretically follow EA’s lead here, integrating support for Nike’s virtual fashions as a marketing tool aimed at fashion-conscious gamers.
— .SWOOSH (@dotSWOOSH) 1 June 2023
It could probably create a kind of cycle where support from more games leads to more interest in Nike’s NFTs, which in turn leads to more game makers signing on, and so on. If enough game makers start introducing these Nike collectibles, we could probably reach NFT bulls’ dream scenario of digital items that you buy once and use at multiple properties around the Internet.
Of course, for any of that to happen, Nike and EA must first get over the deep and long-standing animosity players have shown for any game developer who even suggests that NFTs become part of their game plans (not to mention the broader the collapse in NFT interest across several markets). And if the prospect of showing off Nike swag in online games can’t break through that inherent hostility, there’s a good chance nothing will.
Either way, by leaning on Nike’s established brand — and letting it serve as a third party that markets and sells the NFTs itself — EA Sports can avoid some of the problems other companies have faced in trying to build and sell NFT collections from scratch of.