Gaming startup Matchday has secured $21 million in a seed funding round led by Play Time, a venture capital firm founded by footballer Leo Messi and Silicon Valley veterans Ramzig Hovaghimian and Michael Marques.
Matchday hopes to draw more soccer fans into gaming, working on FIFA licensed titles in the casual genre. Matchday executives have noted that there are five billion football fans worldwide, but only 25 million people engage in games based on the sport. Matchday hopes it can capitalise on this with its offerings, as well as the incorporation of elements such as digital player cards.
“We believe true ownership is important to creating a new set of experiences for gamers,” said Matchday chief gaming officer Sebastien de Halleux. “To us, it’s all about accessibility. We’re talking about bringing on board hundreds of millions of fans into our game without them even knowing what Web3 is. … Our motto is ‘make complexity disappear.’”
Fast Company notes that Messi’s involvement proved to be a major boon for its ambitions, opening the door for the FIFA partnership. The company is expected to launch its first mobile game, Matchday Squad, in the second quarter of 2022, but released a social prediction game, Matchday Challenge: FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Edition, to build an audience, with the mini-game seeing nearly 600 thousand signups and distributing two million player cards.
Players who download Matchday Squad will receive a free deck of cards to build their squad, and can earn more through onboarding friends, trading, or buying them, either from Matchday or other players.
Despite the focus on the ownership of digital assets and the use of blockchain technology, Matchday doesn’t consider itself a Web3 company. “The long-term view we have is digital ownership of games is something for the future,” said CEO Derrick Ko. “It will happen. It will exist. Blockchain is one way to get there. It’s the solution we have now. We don’t consider ourselves a Web3 company or Web3 game. We use it in the same way all games use the latest technologies available to enable new experiences.”
Earlier this week, football games giant FIFA found itself at the heart of a court case in Austria over the use of lootboxes.