Modern Marketing Brand Strategy NFL

NFL gets more yardage out of Fortnite partnership with ‘NFL Zone’

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By Webb Wright | Reporter

December 1, 2022 | 5 min read

Anyone game for a virtual tailgate party?

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The ‘NFL Zone’ in Fortnite was created in partnership with Visa / NFL

The National Football League (NFL) has expanded its footprint in the metaverse with the ‘NFL Zone,’ a new activation in the popular gaming platform Fortnite.

The activation was built in partnership with Visa inside Fortnite Creative, a ‘sandbox’ game (not to be confused with The Sandbox, another popular gaming platform) that enables brands and creators to curate their own experiences within the Fortnite ecosystem. It’s been designed as a ‘persistent experience,’ meaning it will remain live indefinitely. (It’s worth noting that some experts consider persistence to be a key attribute of the burgeoning metaverse; according to this view, any virtual experiences that are only operational for a limited window of time should not technically be categorized as ‘metaverse’ experiences.)

The main feature inside the new NFL zone is what’s being called ‘The Hub,’ a space that offers a virtual tailgate party, a Visa-sponsored virtual stadium and a tag-style game called ‘Blitz the bag,’ plus portals to separate virtual spaces, or ‘maps,’ modeled after particular teams. A portal to the San Francisco 49ers map is live as of today, and portals to other team-specific maps will be launched down the road.

The NFL is partnering with popular digital creators to spread the word about its new Fortnite experience on platforms including TikTok, YouTube and Twitch. NFL players are also slated to appear in those social media marketing efforts, though no particular athletes have yet been named.

“NFL Zone is a great example of the amazing experiences created and published to millions of players in Fortnite every day,” Matthew Henick, vice-president of metaverse development for Epic Games, said in a statement. “The NFL has used Fortnite’s openly available creative toolset to build a persistent, social and immersive experience that we can’t wait to see evolve over the course of this NFL season and beyond.”

This is just the latest chapter of a long-running collaboration between the NFL and Fortnite. Back in 2018, Epic Games announced that it was releasing virtual NFL uniforms on Fortnite, which players could purchase. Then, in late 2020, the two brands unveiled the Gridiron gang set, a collection of customizable NFL uniforms with “a more aerodynamic and athletic feel,” according to a blog post from Epic Games (though it isn’t clear how virtual clothing can have a ‘feel’).

The NFL also released NFTs earlier this year in celebration of the 2022 Super Bowl, further solidifying its status as an organization keen on leveraging emergent tech in its marketing efforts.

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