The Australian Open, which is going on now until the 29th of January, first entered the virtual world of the metaverse and NFTs during last year’s event with the launch of a Decentraland experience and collectible NFTs that were linked to live match data, dubbed AO ArtBalls.
The crypto fervor of the past few years has died down significantly, but the Australian Open is not giving up on the metaverse completely — it has launched a new mint for AO23 ArtBall NFTs and has expanded its presence in the virtual world to include a non-blockchain powered experience on Roblox.
The Roblox Experience, called AO Adventure, is currently live and invites users to play tennis with friends in a virtual version of the Australian Open Park and dress their avatars in exclusive AO outfits. They can also visit the AO Ball Park, sponsored by Emirates, and get a passport badge from the Emirates Cabin Crew. The experience landing page also notes that fans will have a chance to meeting with an AO superstar who will be joining the experience soon.
On the NFT side, this year’s ArtBall collection, produced in partnership with NFT Technologies Inc., began minting last week and is comprised of 2454 new digital collectibles, which join the 6776 NFTs from last year. Like many NFT projects nowadays, the ArtBalls are utility NFTs, meaning that they have additional value attached to them, such as access to exclusive experiences or rewards.
This year, that includes Match Point equivalent tickets: any AO ArtBall that scores a Match Point on the court will be able to claim two tickets to the equivalent match at next year’s Australian Open. The one caveat is that his benefit is currently only open to Australian residents.
In addition, each ArtBall is linked to a plot on the court, and if the winning shot from any of this year’s matches lands on that particular plot, the corresponding ArtBall is immediately updated to highlight the match information, show a 3D visualization of the Match Point, and add a holographic sticker to the ball casing to indicate that it is a Match Point ArtBall.
“Last year we set a new precedent at the intersection of tech, art, tennis and live data,” said NFT Tech CEO Adam De Cata. “This year we're breaking new ground in offering all Members new benefits and a deeper fan experience in perpetuity for all future AO tournaments. We are pleased to offer our AO22 supporters a unique opportunity to join the waitlist and secure their ArtBalls.”