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As teased last week, popular video game Fortnite has announced a collaboration with apparel giant Nike and its .Swoosh Web3 platform, which offers digital apparel and accessories sold as NFTs. The alliance does not integrate NFTs into Fortnite, but the link between the companies still involves crypto elements.
Unveiled today, “Airphoria” is a Nike-branded experience within Fortnite’s Creative Mode, letting users go on the “ultimate Nike sneakerhunt” within a Fortnite game world. The experience, which will be live in the game until June 27, can earn players a free in-game “back bling” or avatar accessory styled like a classic pair of Nike Air Max sneakers.
But the free item isn’t tokenized as an NFT, nor are there any apparel or accessory NFTs included in this collaboration. While the .Swoosh connection suggested a potential move into tokenized digital items for Fortnite, the reality is that Epic Games is not shifting away from its typical “walled garden” approach to digital goods for this collaboration.
Are you ready to experience Airphoria? Find the never-before-seen #AirMax world in @FortniteGame, and join in the Ultimate Sneakerhunt before it disappears into thin air on 6.27 👟 🌏 pic.twitter.com/I0bMiIGWFW
— Nike (@Nike) June 20, 2023
“The connection between Fortnite and Nike doesn't integrate any NFTs or digital item trading marketplaces into the Fortnite world or its economy,” an Epic Games spokesperson told Decrypt. “Items recognized across these two ecosystems are purely for the enjoyment of the purchaser, and aren't tradeable, transferrable, or sellable, as has always been the case in the Fortnite economy.”
Even so, the promotion ties into Nike’s NFT-driven .Swoosh platform, which is built on Polygon, an Ethereum scaling network. Each .Swoosh user is granted a .Swoosh ID for signing up, and it's represented by an NFT minted on Polygon.
In this case, .Swoosh users can earn a special achievement on their NFT-based ID for connecting their account to an Epic Games account via this promotion. Furthermore, users who both connect an account and purchase a pack of non-NFT apparel items in Fortnite will unlock a second .Swoosh achievement.
As an official Fortnite disclaimer mentions, users must connect both .Swoosh and BitGo accounts to earn the achievement. BitGo is Nike’s crypto wallet provider for .Swoosh, meaning it provides the technology that can hold the .Swoosh ID NFT along with any digital apparel and accessories purchased through .Swoosh.
Nike’s collaboration with Fortnite doesn’t bring NFTs into the game, but linking .Swoosh and Epic Games accounts still bridges the gap between the “Web2” online battle-royale shooter and Nike’s NFT-driven platform.
If anything, the collaboration suggests Nike using .Swoosh as a broader platform for gaming and metaverse digital items, even if they’re not tokenized and tradable. But Nike’s plans there remain unclear—and even if so, .Swoosh is built around NFT-based user IDs.
Furthermore, .Swoosh users who make the connection and unlock the achievement will be “eligible to get access to a virtual collection at .Swoosh at a later date,” per the disclaimer on the Epic Games website. Nike’s platform calls its NFT items “virtual creations,” so the achievements may ultimately unlock future access to NFT items.
Decrypt reached out to Nike and Epic Games representatives for clarification on the role of the .Swoosh ID NFT and BitGo wallet, as well as future NFTs tied to the unlocked achievements, but did not immediately hear back from either side.