Blockchain game developer Animoca Brands has set out to capture commercial potential in the world of football (soccer).
The company has secured a new partnership with City Football Group, the owners of Manchester City Football Club.
The deal will see Animoca Brands developing new games and digital collectables based on the football team and its players. The deal also extends to City Football Group’s other team Melbourne City FC, based in Victoria.
City Football Group is 77%-owned by Abu Dhabi United Group, an investment vehicle owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the brother of the ruler of the United Arab Emirates.
A Chinese consortium led by the media and entertainment conglomerate CMC is also a minority investor.
This latest partnership means Animoca Brands will develop and publish a series of digital assets and collectables, mini-games and “unique gaming experiences”, to be based on blockchain technology and thereby implementing community-based features that are likely to appeal to football supporters.
The first thing on Animoca Brands’ to-do list is to develop and release multiple mini-games based on Manchester City and Melbourne City men and women’s teams on GAMEE, its hyper-casual gaming subsidiary.
Furthermore, Animoca Brands confirmed it will also distribute digital collectables for all teams on Quidd, its digital collectables subsidiary.
From a more strategic perspective, the blockchain gaming company intends to integrate its football-themed digital real-estate into a broader tapestry of a blockchain-powered “multiverse” that weaves together multiple themes, concepts and franchises centred around gaming.
Animoca Brands also plans to insert its football-based intellectual properties into its decentralised, community-driven platform called The Sandbox, thereby allowing content creators to monetise voxel assets and create novel games.
Aside from promoting blockchain gaming, Animoca Brands has announced a charity auction in support of global relief charity UNICEF.
The Sandbox held the world’s first virtual LAND NFT charity auction on 18 December 2020. The auction sold off a centrally located 12 by 12 digital estate consisting of 144 LANDs from its limited reserve map via a partnership with peer-to-peer marketplace OpenSea.
This was the first time UNICEF agreed to leverage NFTs and blockchain-based technology for charity fundraising.
Blockchain meets football
As with its other partnerships such as Atari and WWE, the upcoming Manchester City-themed collectables will utilise the concept of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to create secure and verified digital assets that users can independently trade and exchange.
“Unlike most digital content, which is temporarily provided as a service to users on a licencing basis, NFTs are truly ownable. An NFT is owned by its holder regardless of any decisions taken by any other party, including the NFT’s developer,” Animoca Brands explained.
With the deal now signed and content creation set to begin, Animoca Brands has already hinted at what’s to come.
The company hauled in US$223,000 (A$289,000) from a recent auction of the first segment of its Formula 1 racetrack NFT, developed for its blockchain game F1 Delta Time – the highest sum ever paid for an NFT.
Given the sharp growth in popularity of Manchester City as both a football team and a brand over the past four years under the leadership of manager Pep Guardiola, Animoca Brands is hopeful of seeing strong interest in its combination of themed content, gaming and blockchain-based ownership for football fans.
Since joining Manchester City in 2016, Guardiola has masterminded a surge in the team’s fortunes on and off the football pitch. Under his tenure, the team has amassed eight trophies and raised its commercial ranking to sixth on the list of the world’s top clubs.
As a result of the team’s record-breaking success on the football pitch, the parent’s company’s commercial fortunes have flourished in tandem.
Likewise, in Australia, Manchester City’s sister club has grown in both performance and popularity. The team were runners up in the A-League Premiership and A-League Championship in 2020, for the first time in the club’s short history.
For Animoca Brands, the hope is that Manchester City’s commercial profile continues to grow globally as it attempts to win more trophies.
In the meantime, the company has been tasked with producing a suite of blockchain games as part of a new blockchain-focused direction for merchandising from one of the world’s largest football clubs.