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Nike Tries on NFTs After Acquiring a Virtual Footwear Maker

In mid-December, Nike announced its acquisition of RTFKT, a leading brand that uses digital innovation to deliver online collectibles that merge culture and gaming. This is the latest effort by Nike to extend its push into blockchain, metaverse, and the cryptocurrency space.

“This acquisition is another step that accelerates Nike’s digital transformation and allows us to serve athletes and creators at the intersection of sport, creativity, gaming, and culture,”

said John Donahoe, President and CEO of Nike in its statement.

“We’re acquiring a very talented team of creators with an authentic, connected brand, and extends Nike’s digital footprint and capabilities.”  

Founded in 2020, by Benoit Pagotto, Chris Le and Steven Vasilev, RTFKT uses the latest in game engines, NFTs, blockchain authentication, and augmented reality to create unique virtual products and experiences. RTFKT also creates physical products of digital NFTs during limited “forging events” for its community members. 

Nike seems to be following a “fast-follow” strategy as other fashion brands are in a footrace to stake their digital claims in advance of mass adoption of the metaverse. Examples include Dolce & Gabbana, Jimmy Choo, and Adidas AG which have already launched NFTs. In fact, the launch of Adidas’ “Into the Metaverse” NFT collection this month was an instant hit that generated sales of $23 million. When it comes to duplicating those kinds of NFT profits, Nike wants to “Just Do It.”

Last month, Nike announced its first major push into the metaverse with the creation of “Nikeland” on Roblox – an online gaming and game-making platform that allows anyone to create new games and anyone to play them.

Nikeland currently allows visitors to participate in games such as tag, the floor is lava, and dodgeball with friends. However, the Nikeland tool kit allows creators to easily design their own mini-games from interactive sports materials.

Additionally, it’s a free virtual setting that allows users to sync real-world accelerometers in their mobile devices to transfer offline movement to online play as well as outfit Nikeland avatars with special Nike products. Nike is running fast to not lose the race to the metaverse.

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    Tor Constantino is a former journalist, consultant and current corporate comms executive with an MBA degree and 25+ years of experience - writing about cryptocurrencies and blockchain since 2017. His writing has appeared across the web on Entrepreneur, Forbes, Fortune, CEOWorld and Yahoo!. Tor's views are his own and do not reflect those of his current employer.