The studio is working with FIFA and plans to build Web3 games with the support of pro soccer superstar Lionel Messi’s VC firm Play Time.
Matchday, a startup that creates Web3 games with a focus on soccer, has raised $21 million in seed funding. The funding will be used to develop a suite of games with the backing of Lionel Messi’s venture capital firm, Play Time. Other investors in the round include Courtside Ventures, Greylock, HackVC, Capricorn Investment Group, and Horizons Ventures. Spanish soccer player Alexia Putellas will serve as Matchday’s founding global ambassador.
Lionel Messi, a soccer legend who currently plays for Paris Saint-Germain F.C., has already made a number of moves in the NFT world. He is a brand ambassador for Sorare, a fantasy soccer game that uses NFTs, as well as Socios, a fan token platform. He has invested in Sorare and signed a $20 million endorsement deal with Socios. He has also released his own official NFT collectibles through the Ethernity Chain platform.
Matchday has an official license from FIFA, the governing body behind the World Cup, as well as the FIFPRO players association. Matchday co-founder and CEO Derrick Ko explained that the games will be optimized for “casual” users in a statement. The company is building for an untapped audience in the football community, according to Ko.
Sebastien de Halleux, Matchday’s Chief Gaming Officer, previously worked at Electronic Arts (EA), where he was involved in the development of EA’s FIFA game series and the Madden NFT franchise. Matchday’s games will be accessible to all players and centered around true ownership of digital items that will be a point of pride for all players, according to de Halleux.
In Web3 gaming, digital items are registered on-chain as NFTs. NFTs are unique blockchain tokens that signify ownership over digital assets such as in-game characters, skins, or items. Matchday previously released a limited-time mini-game during the 2022 FIFA World Cup and gave out 2 million NFT player cards to roughly 600,000 users.
Soccer giants have taken considerable steps into Web3. Sorare, which raised $680 million at a $4.3 billion valuation in 2021, has hundreds of team and league licenses while also expanding into other sports. Last fall, FIFA launched an NFT platform on Algorand, and dozens of teams have released Socios fan tokens that sometimes rise or drop in price based on their on-the-pitch performance.
Matchday’s entry into the Web3 gaming market is notable because it has the backing of some of the biggest names in soccer. The company has an official license from FIFA, which means it can use the World Cup branding and other FIFA intellectual property in its games. Matchday’s focus on casual players also makes it stand out from other Web3 games, which often cater to more hardcore gamers.
The company’s use of NFTs is another key differentiator. NFTs have become a popular way for creators to monetize digital assets, and they are particularly well-suited to gaming because they allow players to truly own their in-game items. Matchday’s decision to give out NFT player cards during the World Cup was a savvy move, as it allowed the company to build up a user base and generate buzz around its upcoming games.
Overall, Matchday’s success will depend on whether it can create compelling games that appeal to soccer fans and casual players alike. The company’s focus on true ownership of digital items and its use of NFTs could give it an edge in the crowded Web3 gaming market. With the backing of some of the biggest names in soccer, Matchday has a real shot at becoming a major player in the industry.