Small Ball: NFL Runner blitzes mobile

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The way Adrian Peterson racks up yards on a weekly basis, sometimes it feels like he’s running forever. But now, thanks to the NFL and mobile games publisher Pocket Gems, football fans can suit up virtually in their favorite team’s gear and tackle the league’s first free-to-play endless running game, NFL Runner: Football Dash.

The game launches on iOS and Android today, with fans given the opportunity to select their favorite team, then sprint through a virtual stadium, juking and diving under defenders, smashing through walls and water coolers, and even completing passes to themselves (including mid-air ball control), all the while collecting coins that can then be used to purchase additional power-ups and boosts.

“The endless runner gameplay has been successful with other brands, whether it’s Subway Surfers or Temple Run, and we’re excited to bring an NFL-themed version to our fans,” says David Healy, director of media strategies and business development for the NFL. “You swipe the screen up, down, left, and right to have the runner dodge tacklers and other obstacles as you attempt to advance through the levels and gain as many yards as possible.”

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And while gamers are selecting their favorite team, there are no real players featured in the game, so expect more of a generic avatar in a purple practice jersey rather than a digitized Purple Jesus.

“Imagine a practice setting, where you’re starting out controlling your avatar, who is essentially a member of your favorite team, as you go through the training simulation,” says Healy. “At the start, you’re in a stadium environment, but then you break out into the parking lot and go through a tailgate environment and other stadium environments as you advance through the game.”

According to Jameel Khalfan of Pocket Gems, you can even expect to see a level based on the halftime show.

“There will also be leaderboards, where fans from the various NFL teams will compete against each other to see who is the best at the game,” says Khalfan. “Your best run of the day will end up getting contributed to whatever team that you join, so fans of different teams will be competing in real-time to see who can get the most points. So you’re not only running for your high score, you’re running for your team’s leaderboard ranking.”

But Pocket Gems and the NFL aren’t the only two companies teaming up for NFL Runner, as McDonald’s has also stepped in to partner-up on the product.

“McDonald’s is sponsoring the experience,” adds Healy. “They are launching a new product called Mighty Wings, and people who buy Mighty Wings will receive a promo code to unlock a unique power-up in the game. McDonald’s is going to include this in what is already going to be an innovative and cool commercial campaign around Mighty Wings. They’re using this as part of their marketing plan, and we’ve never done anything like this, where they are going to promote the product heavily at point of sale, and as a result of the promotion, people who purchase the Mighty Wings will be able to access unique power-ups.”

Non-McDonald’s eaters will also be able to enhance/cheat their NFL Runner experience by purchasing various boosts in-game (invincibility!). Additional monetization includes the selling of official NFL avatar gear, priced at $2.99 per team uniform.

Adds Khalfan: “We’re combining the NFL with the endless runner genre, and we feel that fans are really going to enjoy seeing these elements combined together in a way where fans of various teams can now all compete against each other and see who’s best at the game.”

All images via Pocket Gems