America’s most popular sport meets America’s most popular game, as the NFL lends its biggest stars like Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes — in name, image and likeness, at least — to the fan favorite mobile game, Subway Surfers.
For three weeks beginning Sept. 10, gamers can play the “endless runner” video game as one of six NFL stars—including Super Bowl MVP Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs, New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley and now Tampa Bay Buccaneers icon Brady, a six-time Super Bowl-winner with the New England Patriots. The promotional event will also include unlockable prizes for users to win, plus in-game hoverboards based on the players.
The partnership between SYBO, a Danish mobile games developer which introduced Subway Surfers in 2012, and the NFL Players Association was forged by OneTeam Partners, the company jointly formed by the NFLPA, MLB Players Association and RedBird Capital, which only recently went into partnership to buy and resurrect the bankrupt XFL. OneTeam, which manages all group-licensing rights for the two sports labor unions, has brokered a string of video gaming rights deals for NFL players this year, including one with 2K, for a non-simulation football game to potentially rival EA’s Madden, and another with Bit Fry Studios, the makers of Ultimate Rivals.
“[This is] a unique collaboration between two popular global brands, and as we bolster the NFLPA roster of video gaming licensees, the value of bringing players into mainstream mobile games like Subway Surfers is an exciting enhancement of the fan experience,” said Henry Lowenfels, chief product officer for OneTeam Partners.
The mobile game, born out of a 2009 award-winning animation about a character who hangs out in an old subway station and tries to avoid a grumpy inspector and his dog, crossed the three billion download threshold last month and continues to be the most popular free game in the country on iOS, according to industry analyst Sensor Tower. App Annie also named Subway Surfers the most downloaded game of the 2010s.
“The partnership with the NFLPA and OneTeam marks yet another amazing milestone for us,” said Naz Amarchi-Cuevas, SYBO’s chief commercial officer. “Coming just after we crossed three billion downloads, this collaboration is yet another first for Subway Surfers. The integration of the NFL stars, combined with our premium gaming experience and overall digital content, will galvanize gaming and sports fans alike.”