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UPDATE (June 20): The "Airphoria" event has been officially revealed, and it does not include in-game NFTs in Fortnite. However, the collaboration includes connections to Nike's NFT-driven .Swoosh platform, as teased. For full details, read our story about the launch.
ORIGINAL: Nike’s embrace of Web3 has been seen as a way to bring NFTs to the masses, but its .Swoosh platform may also be leading traditional gaming giants to embrace NFTs. And based on an official tease from Nike, its next gaming move will apparently come through Fortnite.
On Friday, Nike’s official Twitter account shared a teaser for the “ultimate Sneakerhunt” on Fortnite, beginning on June 20. Nike has previously put digital apparel into the massively popular online shooter, but this “Airphoria” event teaser came with a twist: a logo for its .Swoosh NFT platform at the end, alongside the logo for Fortnite creator Epic Games’ widely-used Unreal Engine software.
Nike and Epic Games have yet to provide details regarding the collaboration, which looks to involve the apparel giant’s Air Max shoe brand. However, the teaser suggests that Nike’s NFT platform will tie into Fortnite and perhaps the broader Unreal Engine ecosystem.
On 6.20 the ultimate Sneakerhunt begins. 🏙️🌬️ pic.twitter.com/QgMyA1uXRT
— Nike (@Nike) June 16, 2023
.Swoosh is a digital apparel platform launched on Ethereum scaling network Polygon. It was announced late last year and gradually opened up before Nike ultimately launched a mint in May for digital Air Force 1 sneakers—called “Our Force 1”—as tradeable NFTs.
Earlier this month, gaming giant EA Sports—the division of storied publisher Electronic Arts that handles franchises like FIFA and Madden NFL—revealed a collaboration with Nike and .Swoosh to implement apparel and accessory NFTs (called “virtual creations”) within future games.
Details around exactly how EA Sports will integrate Nike NFTs are still scant, and as of yet, there are no firm details around how Fortnite will tap into the tech either. But given the hostility from many gamers towards gaming NFTs and token-driven games, further crossover like this into mainstream games may help normalize the use of Web3 features within games.
Fortnite is one of the most popular games in the world, with an estimated 243 million players over the past 30 days per third-party data from ActivePlayer. That’s down from the May 2021 peak of about 290 million monthly players, but the online battle royale shooter has remained a major player in the gaming space since its 2017 debut.
Epic’s shooter has generated billions of dollars’ worth of revenue from selling digital items in partnership with a wide array of entertainment, fashion, and other gaming brands, including character and weapon “skins” that let players customize their appearance.
However, these items are locked within the Fortnite ecosystem and cannot be resold or used within other games or online worlds. On the other hand, NFTs can be freely traded and are composable blockchain assets, which means other games and online platforms could potentially support and utilize them as well.
Given this model, Fortnite is often seen as the leading example of how NFTs can provide more benefits to users than traditional in-game digital items. But if Fortnite really is about to support Nike’s NFT platform, as the apparel brand’s teaser video suggests, then it could be the first step in a radical change for Epic’s smash shooter.
Decrypt reached out to both Nike and Epic Games for details around the teased collaboration, but did not immediately hear back from either side.