The National Football League is continuing its exploration of the metaverse with a new experience in Fortnite Creative, a sandbox separate from the main game where users can create their own islands and share them online.
Presented by Visa, NFL Zone, which launched on Thursday, features a social hub where football fans and Fortnite players can connect and interact with the sports league.
The hub, which includes a Visa-sponsored stadium, will host portals to maps themed after NFL teams. The first is based on the San Francisco 49ers, with more to follow for teams including the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants. There, football fanatics and gamers will play modified versions of search and destroy and capture the flag.
The NFL Zone will also host a virtual tailgate within the hub.
Gaming and sports content creators, alongside NFL players, will promote NFL Zone on Instagram, TikTok, Twitch and YouTube. Creators will also be assigned divisions for an NFC vs. AFC competition built into the games. A large scoreboard will track wins for participating creators and players, and the division with the highest total points will be crowned champion after a final playoff game.
“With over 400 million registered player accounts on Fortnite, NFL Zone for the first time allows the NFL to have an immersive, always-on presence where gaming-native fans can meet up, socialize and compete,” Ed Kiang, VP of video gaming at the NFL told Campaign US.
Epic Games’ youth marketing company SuperAwesome provided the technology underpinning the NFL’s Fortnite experience.
The NFL worked with Fortnite as early as 2018, when team outfits became available as character skins in the game.
This is not the NFL’s first foray into the metaverse. In February, the league built an experience in Roblox called NFL Tycoon, where players could construct custom stadiums and manage teams. The NFL has used Roblox to supplement its real-life events, such as adding NFL Draft merchandise to the experience in April when the draft took place.
NFL Tycoon has had more than 7.6 million visits since it launched, with over 2.5 million unique users between February and April, over half of whom were under 18 years old. The league's last major update to the experience came in October during the NFL’s London Games.
In November, the NFL launched NFL Quarterback Simulator in Roblox, which has had more than 1.1 million visits so far.
Gillette and Coca-Cola have also dabbled in Fortnite Creative metaverse experiences. Gillette’s Bed Battles map saw 200,000 unique players within the first two days of its launch.
Epic announced that it raised $2 billion in funding for metaverse building in April.
This story has been updated with a statement from the NFL. This story first appeared on campaignlive.com.