The NHL has partnered with Roblox to launch NHL Blast, a metaverse experience comprising hockey-themed games that allow fans to socialize in an innovative online platform that showcases various elements of NHL fan culture.
The game is a significant move for the NHL, which aims to reach younger fans by embracing fun and innovative gameplay. As of December, Statista reported that 23 percent of Roblox users were between 9-12 years of age.
NHL Blast provides an exhilarating experience that presents ice hockey in a new light. Teams of five players face off in thrilling matches set in imaginative environments filled with obstacles, including one that draws inspiration from the NHL STREET program developed by the league. Players can enjoy skating and shooting mechanics that mimic the movements of actual NHL players.
"Hey hockey fans! The NHL is taking the ice to the next level with the launch of their new #metaverse experience on Roblox! Get ready for an epic blast of virtual skating and slapshots on your computers and mobile devices! #NHL #Roblox #HockeyBlast 🏒🔥👀" pic.twitter.com/m4HsJq6gBZ
— Metaverses News (@MetaversesNews) April 27, 2023
“Roblox is a hypersocial platform and fits seamlessly with the NHL’s commitment to grow the game by introducing new audiences around the globe to hockey in a unique and captivating way,” said David Lehanski, NHL executive vice president of business development and innovation.
“NHL Blast’s immersive virtual environment will allow hockey fans and the Roblox community to hang out and play in a new online space that features many elements of NHL fandom, including engaging activations from Upper Deck.”
NHL Blast is available on both PC and mobile, enabling fans to experience the exciting world of hockey in the virtual space of Roblox.
Today the @NHL will launch a central metaverse hub for the global hockey community called ‘NHL blast’
The Roblox-powered space will include ties to league events like the 2023 Stanley Cup Final pic.twitter.com/vqEkQNjHxc
— Sportico (@Sportico) April 27, 2023
NHL Blast’s features
In NHL Blast, players have the freedom to personalize their avatars with the jersey of their favorite NHL team, a custom number and even customizable goalie masks. The Upper Deck Selfie Station also allows individuals to capture images of their virtual avatars performing classic hockey stances frequently seen on NHL trading cards. NHL Blast will remain synchronized with major events like the Stanley Cup Final through regular updates.
The 3D goal highlights from the 2023 Stanley Cup Final will be recreated using the league’s NHL EDGE puck and player tracking, the technology that Disney XD “Big City Greens” game also used this season.
NFL was first major sports league to launch Roblox experience last year. Now NHL setting up its own community. Gotta look after the kiddos. https://t.co/wnOE78T7Y1
— Eric Jackson (@epjackson) April 27, 2023
The game was built by metaverse development studio The Gang and is expected to be the center for league activations in Roblox. CEO of The Gang, Marcus Holmstrom, voiced his pride at being chosen by the NHL to develop NHL Blast on Roblox.
“To be assisting a truly visionary and innovative sports organization such as the NHL to increase interest in hockey for younger generations is something we are very proud to be part of,” said Holmstrom.
“We specifically appreciate the NHL’s focus and boldness on embracing fun, innovative gameplay, and rewarding users with great customization options that make them feel like pro NHL Players.”
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) April 27, 2023
NHL’s esports and youth engagement
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has spearheaded the league’s efforts to expand its presence in the esports world. Under his leadership, the NHL has made significant strides in developing its esports programs and offerings.
For instance, the NHL has taken steps to engage with younger fans by creating the NHL Power Players, a youth advisory board established in 2019. This board is made up of young fans who provide feedback and ideas on how to make the game more appealing to their generation.
By involving young fans in this way, the NHL hopes to create a more inclusive and engaging experience for its fans who “haven’t really experienced the NHL to experience it in a completely different way and become comfortable and familiar with elements of our game.”