The beer brand, owned by corporate behemoth Anheuser-Busch InBev, is partnering with a platform called Zed Run , which is a kind of online game built around “digital race horses.” In-game items like horses and skins are attached to NFTs ( non-fungible tokens ), the blockchain-based tokens that can be bought and sold as proof of ownership for files on the internet.
Some collectors have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars breeding and racing horses in their virtual stables.
Stella Artois is issuing 50 NFTs tied to specially branded in-game horses; they’ll be auctioned off in daily batches from today until Saturday, June 19. Each NFT also comes with a digital artwork and an in-game horse skin.
Lindsey McInerney, global head of tech and innovation at Anheuser-Busch InBev, tells Decrypt that the partnership with Zed Run made sense for a brand that’s historically sponsored sports, media and entertainment products. “This is the future in all those areas,” she says.
The NFTs will be sold on OpenSea, an online marketplace for crypto collectibles; it recently raised $23 million in a funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz.
NFTs created a kind of bubble this past winter, as individual works of “crypto art” began selling at major auction houses. Transaction volumes have steadily declined since then, but the NFT craze isn’t exactly finished, either—Sotheby’s just sold a batch of NFTs for over $17 million , and an NFT attached to the Doge meme sold for $4 million last week.
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“It is such early days in the crypto space right now,” says McInerney, “but it is exploding.”