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Goals raises US$15m to build NFT alternative to FIFA video game

Swedish startup believes NFTs can help challenge EA Sports dominance in soccer video games.

12 April 2022 Steve McCaskill
Goals raises US$15m to build NFT alternative to FIFA video game

Goals / Andreas Thorstensson

  • ‘Rough’ version of Goals game is expected in the summer
  • Investors include Northzone, Cherry Ventures and Gerard Pique
  • Comes after Footium raises US$3 million for its NFT soccer management game

Swedish startup Goals has raised US$15 million in seed funding to help build a non-fungible token (NFT)-based soccer video game that can be a genuine alternative to EA SportsFIFA series.

The round was led by Northzone and included previous investors Cherry Ventures, Moonfire Ventures and Banana Capital. Also on board were high profile angel investors, including FC Barcelona defender Gerard Pique, the co-founder of NFT video game Axie Infinity, and Sorare co-founder Nicolas Julia.

FIFA has dominated the video game landscape for the past decade, generating vast amounts of revenue from its ‘Ultimate Team’ mode and squeezing out competition from others who are simply unable to match the investment required for development and licensing.

Konami’s revamped eFootball series has adopted a free-to-play (F2P) model and an esports focus in a bid to secure more of the market, but Goals believes that by combining F2P with NFTs, it can offer something different but just as engaging as FIFA.

Rather than compete with EA for licences, Goals will allow players to assemble teams of fictional player-based NFTs that can be traded with other players, used across multiple applications, and sold for real money.

This contrasts with FIFA’s approach of securing as many licences as possible to create ‘cards’ that are tied to its own ecosystem. Real world currency can be used to purchase random packs of cards, not individual items, and the game world resets each year, meaning the time and money invested in Ultimate Team does not carry over.

Other NFT-based soccer games have tended to focus on collecting or fantasy elements, so the inclusion of gameplay differentiates Goals from platforms like Sorare. However, it does mean Goals will be judged by the quality and enjoyability of its playable modes just as much as it is by how engaging its NFT ecosystem is.

Goals believes the lack of licences and legacy platforms means there will be many more design choices available to its developers and will allow for the creation of a game that is native to the metaverse.

Few details have been made available, but in an interview with Sifted, Goals chief executive Andreas Thorstensson said the company planned to create an ‘arcade style’ representation of soccer and that a rough internal version should be ready this summer ahead of a full commercial launch in ‘two to three years’ time’.

The funding round comes weeks after UK startup Footium raised US$3 million to do something similar in the soccer management simulation space. Sports Interactive’s Football Manager series is by far and away the market leader, supported by a vast database and three decades of development that is simply impossible for anyone else to match.

Footium also believes NFTs, an in-game economy, and real-world rewards can offer something different. Players can purchase teams and trade players and other items to increase their chances of success, with notable club owners including former Dutch soccer player Nigel De Jong and former international cricketers Ravi Bopara and Carlos Brathwaite. Meanwhile, AS Roma defender Chris Smalling is an angel investor.

The game is in beta and not yet a mainstream proposition. Initial batches of teams have sold out within minutes and have changed hands for as much as US$30,000 on NFT marketplace OpenSea.

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