By: Tim Daniels.
The NFL and competition platform Skillz announced an agreement Thursday to host a "global game developer challenge" with the goal of creating an NFL-themed mobile game that will chart the "future of electronic sports competition."
Developers can create any style of football game aside from an 11 vs. 11 simulation because of the league's exclusive contract with EA Sports' Madden brand.
"Mobile gaming continues to be an important platform to reach and engage new and existing fans," Rachel Hoagland, the NFL's VP of gaming and esports, said. "Our agreement with Skillz provides access to a trusted platform and a highly engaged player base, making Skillz an ideal partner long term."
It's an effort by the NFL to greatly expand its reach in the lucrative mobile gaming community.
Marie Dealessandri of Games Industry reported in December users played 284 billion hours of mobile games in 2020 and spent $81 billion in the process.
Worldwide revenue from mobile games is expected to top $100 billion by 2023, per Statista.
Although there's a version of Madden available on mobile, a new concept that better fits the quick-hitting nature of mobile games with full NFL licenses to feature real teams and players could create another major revenue stream for the league.
"The NFL is an iconic brand that is synonymous with American sports, and Skillz is thrilled to help power their esports competitions on mobile," Skillz founder Andrew Paradise said.
Taking the next step to produce a viable esport will be a tougher challenge. Most of the games that have succeeded in the space are battle royales like Fortnite, PUBG Mobile and Garena Free Fire, or strategy games like Arena of Valor and Clash of Clans.
The developer challenge to create a game that can bring a football title into that mix is scheduled to begin in the second quarter of 2021.