EA has announced a partnership with sportswear manufacturer Nike to bring its Nike .SWOOSH “virtual creations” (read: NFTs, or Non-Fungible Tokens) to EA’s sports video game franchises. The deal is set to allow players of EA Sports players to unlock additional customisation options via their SWOOSH NFTs…maybe. It’s a little unclear exactly how this collaboration will work in practice, however more information will apparently be revealed in the coming months.
— .SWOOSH (@dotSWOOSH) June 1, 2023
“Nike and EA SPORTS share a commitment to innovation, creativity, and excellence, and we are thrilled to partner with them,” said Ron Faris, GM of Nike Virtual Studios. “This partnership will allow us to unlock some incredible new experiences for our .SWOOSH community and the massive EA SPORTS fan base.”
“All of us at EA SPORTS are focused on leading the next evolution in sports fandom, and this new collaboration with our longtime partners at Nike sits directly at the intersection of innovation, sport, and culture,” said Andrea Hopelain, SVP of Brand for EA SPORTS & Racing. “Working with .SWOOSH, we’ll bring creativity and self-expression to the forefront for fans as they connect, compete, and share their love for sport.”
Video games and NFTs have a strange relationship. Many game publishers and developers have desperately wanted to get on the NFT bandwagon, particularly during the boom times of the last few years. Despite this, gamers have largely rejected them, and refused to engage with them when publishers integrated them anyway. Other companies have pledged to never utilise NFTs and blockchain technology in their games.
While those pushes towards the blockchain were at least comprehensible during its peak in value, it is a lot more difficult to understand why EA would pursue an NFT partnership now, in 2023. Over the past year, the NFT and cryptocurrency markets have plummeted in value and popularity. Despite this, companies in the video game industry are still attempting to create games based around NFTs, crypto and the metaverse. These include PUBG: Battlegrounds developer Krafton announcing some sort of metaverse project codenamed “Migaloo” a few months ago.
In the past, EA CEO Andrew Wilson has described NFTs as “an important part of the future of our industry.” Whilst that statement was made in 2021, during the peak of the NFT craze, it seems he still stands by those words if this collaboration is anything to go by. The exact details of the EA/Nike .SWOOSH deal will be confirmed in the coming months.