Gaming startup GameOn has a new deal with LaLiga North America to develop NFT-based fantasy games for the Spanish soccer league’s United States and Canadian fanbase.
Fans will be able to buy packs of LaLiga players as NFTs and build fantasy lineups that earn points based on each player’s real-life performance on the pitch. Digital gear such as cleats, jerseys, or hats can also be purchased to equip their in-game player avatars with boosts that result in point multipliers.
GameOn’s LaLiga-branded web app will debut in the U.S. and Canada in the first quarter of 2024 with social chat features and offers for fans to win prizes—such as cash, VIP match tickets, signed merchandise, and access to player meet-and-greets. The firm will develop games around both of LaLiga’s soccer leagues, including the top-tier LaLiga EA Sports and second-tier LaLiga Hypermotion.
“We’re very happy to start in the North American market. Especially [with] these Web3 games, you don’t need 100,000 or a million users to have a successful game,” GameOn CEO Matt Bailey told Decrypt. “You just need 1,000 or 2,000 very excited and dedicated and engaged users, and it’s a very successful and profitable product.”
ESPN reached an eight-year U.S. media rights deal with LaLiga in 2021 to stream matches from Spain’s top soccer league on ESPN+ through the 2028-29 season. The league’s growing North American presence also included iconic franchises FC Barcelona and Real Madrid playing exhibition matches in the U.S. this summer as part of the Soccer Champions Tour.
Bailey originally founded GameOn as a white-label trivia and prediction game provider that made products for the WNBA, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and NBCUniversal. The company entered Web3 with NFT-based games for the Professional Fighters League and Karate Combat.
“We’re games people and we just think that Web3 is the best technology to provide the ownership, interoperability and rewards that fans want,” Bailey said. “Especially Gen Z, they don’t want to watch passively—they want to own the content, play the content, influence the content, and they want rewards. That’s why we’re all in on Web3.”
Bailey describes GameOn as “chain agnostic,” having previously launched games on Polygon and Hedera. GameOn eventually expects to launch a token to connect its Web3 gaming ecosystem across its partnered clients, such as LaLiga and the PFL.
Investors in GameOn include Polygon Studios, Hedera, Dapper Labs, Techstars, Comcast, Lightning Capital, and Times Internet. Dapper, the maker of NBA Top Shot and NFL All Day, invested in GameOn’s $1.8 million seed round earlier this year.
LaLiga plans to promote its upcoming games with GameOn through activations in their soccer stadiums, fan watch parties, and social and digital content. The Spanish soccer league has existing deals with Dapper Labs and NFT fantasy sports game Sorare, but Bailey sees GameOn as being more complementary than competitive with other NFT-based projects.
“There’s going to be a lot of different Web3 partners, NFT partners for leagues,” he said. “NFTs or Web3 will be the right technology for many different categories of fan experiences—be it games, moments and highlights, tickets, merchandise. There’s not going to be a one-stop-shop for all of those services.”
“Now we’re starting to see a better approach from these leagues who are not so much money-grabbing,” he added. “I guess the bubble’s burst a little bit there.”