Is this the 21st-century crypto-themed update to “bread and circuses”?
The United Kingdom arm of pilsner beer brand Stella Artois is partnering with a digital horse racing game to release a series of nonfungible tokens (NFTs).
In a Tuesday announcement from Stella Artois’ U.K. brewery, the beer brand said users of the digital racing game Zed Run would now be able to bid on Stella Artois-themed skins for their favorite horses. Beginning Tuesday and running until Saturday, crypto users can bid on 50 digital packages featuring nonfungible tokens of the racehorses and original Stella art, as well as the branded skins.
The auctions for the skins, horses, and beer artwork are available on OpenSea’s digital marketplace. At the time of publication, the highest bid on one of the pieces is 1.05 Wrapped Ether (WETH) — roughly $2,687.
Built on the Ethereum blockchain, Zed Run has offered an alternative to in-person horseracing events at a time when many venues are still closed to spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Players can earn returns by digitally breeding and racing the animals.
“While for some the term ‘metaverse’ is still something of an unknown, this virtual world is exploding right now and looks set to change the way we all engage in digital experiences forever,” said Lindsey McInerney, the global head of tech and innovation at Budweiser Brewing Group, the parent company of Stella Artois.
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Many in-person horseracing events in England were closed to spectators during the lockdowns carried out in response to the pandemic. Though the government announced earlier this year that it was possible for venues to have crowds at pre-pandemic levels starting on June 21, the emergence of the COVID-19 Delta variant is making that look unlikely, according to a recent statement from Prime Minister Boris Johnson.