Heisman front-runner Caleb Williams, along with some of USC Football fans' favorite legends of the past, are teaming together to create an arcade-style football video game called 'HALL of GOATs' (HoG).
The co-founders of the game are Williams, two-time National Champion and 2004 Heisman winner at USC Matt Leinart, and two-time National Champion PR/WR at USC Greig Carlson. They released their first trailer for the game a couple of weeks ago.
“We are developing an arcade style football game," said Carlson. "So, 7 on 7, over the top movements. Think like Blitz, or NFL Street, or NBA Street. That type of interaction where it’s crazy behind-the-back stuff, jumping, juking, all of that."
The game is created to revolutionize Name, Image, and Likeness opportunities for college athletes. The first core of player avatars who gamers will have the chance to play with are Williams, Wisconsin RB Braelon Allen, Kansas State RB Deuce Vaughn, Texas WR Xavier Worthy, and Ole Miss RB Zach Evans.
"This is going to be super fun, and easy to pick up and play. And then, buying the players, we’ll be able to import them into the game. They’ll start off at a super low baseline, and then playing the game you earn XP, level them up, increase their speed, their stats, things like that. Ultimately making your team better, and then the idea is making those players more valuable as well over time, so that you can buy and sell them on the secondary marketplace as well."- Greig Carlson, HoG co-founder
Caleb Williams is not the only USC Football player gamers can play with, however.
It's not just Caleb Williams and those aforementioned college football players who will have their avatars in the game. Former legends will also be in that inaugural core of player avatars for the game as well.
Leinart will have his avatar in the game, and so will two-time National Champion RB and 2005 NCAA TD's leader LenDale White. Leinart was Carlson's roommate in college, and both he and White remain "good friends" with Carlson to this day.
There are multiple other former college football greats who will have avatars in that initial class too. 2005 National Champion Texas QB Vince Young will have his avatar in the game too, and so will former Wisconsin RB and 1999 Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne. The avatars for both the current and former players in the game can be bought through drops in the in-game marketplace.
"What the game does is it allows not only current players to have a chance at generating revenue long-term, but it also invites former players to come back because their fan bases can re-engage with them, and play with them in a video game too. So I think the game allows us and the athletes to generate passive income opportunities for these athletes."- Greig Carlson, HoG co-founder
Carlson plans on the avatar options expanding soon, too.
"Obviously the more popular (the certain players) are, the better that they’ll do, but then we also have plans on developing an avatar system. So if you’re the second-string D-Lineman at Trinity College or wherever you’re playing, and you’re not a top tier name necessarily; if you’ve got the wherewithal to develop a social media following, you’ll still be able to monetize your NIL by minting your own avatar and selling it to your fanbase as well."- Greig Carlson, HoG co-founder
Due to Carlson's background in multiple key areas that he's working with in this space, he felt like making this game was his calling once NIL turned into a reality.
"When I was at SC, I met a professor, went into technology immediately after graduating. So I’ve been in technology developing software ever since I left USC. And then when the NIL decision came down, I felt like my passion for sports, my background in technology; this was the intersection where I had the chance to build a great company as well as give back to the athletes."- Greig Carlson, HoG co-founder
Carlson is big on these athletes having the chance to make the money they deserve via NIL opportunities, as they should have been able to since college sports ever started. It's a big part of why he had this passion to get back with his former teammates, and use all of his expertise to get this game going.
"I think that they should be making money. If you look at the rest of the world, a 14-year-old soccer player in Brazil has no trouble going and playing in England, or Italy, or wherever they may play if they’ve got the talent. And they can make as much money as the market dictates. So my background in technology, my passion for sports, the fact that I have walked in the shoes of these current players at some point; I felt like this was a good opportunity and a place for me to combine all of my previous experience with a chance at giving back and building something special."- Greig Carlson, HoG co-founder
For Carlson, it's also about keeping the connections with former players and their loyal fanbases together. There's even the element of having the current players interact with their football idols that the game intends to create.
"There’s still a huge fan base for all of the former players. The average gamer is 37 or something like that. Those guys have been playing games forever, and why wouldn’t they want to play with some of their favorite players of all-time. When it comes to current players, those are the guys that looked up to these guys previously. So bringing them all together and combining current players as well as former players, I think just drums up a lot of excitement with both."- Greig Carlson, HoG co-founder
It truly is going to be different from the rest of the pack when it comes to sports video games, when it's arcade-style AND there's a blend of both current and former players. The returns on it are going to be great, too. For instance, everyone reading this article loves guys like Leinart and White from what they did with this football program. Carlson and Leinart know what football fans want.
"It makes the former players relevant again in a way, and with their ability to re-connect with their fanbases, I think that there’s something really cool. It was extremely important for us. Obviously Leinart being the co-founder, bringing him back into the fold, and giving his fanbase an opportunity to connect with him, and play with him in the game. It opened up more opportunities for these guys to maybe generate a little revenue that they weren’t able to make when they were in college. "- Greig Carlson, HoG co-founder
While the game continues to develop, players and their fans have new perks to look forward to with the game. 'The Founder's Pass' will be available at some point during a 72-hour window for $99.99, which unlocks benefits for the buyers. Some of those benefits are:
- Access to exclusive AMA on Discord with HoG co-founders Caleb Williams and Matt Leinart when the season is over
- Complimentary tickets to future NCAA games (pending availability)
- Early access to all future player avatar drops
- Discounts on all in-game purchases
- Access to the first-season pass
- Access to the Beta, when released
- Exclusive airdrops of digital merch to customize your players with
- Voting rights around game design decisions and community event planning
“We wanted to provide fans instant utility that directly connects them with their favorite players," said Leinart and Carlson. "And, through our Founder’s Pass, we can celebrate fan loyalty through exclusive access to digital and physical merchandise and early access to future drops."
And having an NIL titan in Williams involved is amazing for the two of them. Especially after he is already up to 44 total touchdowns and just three total turnovers on the season so far, despite two more games still being left to play. Both NIL deals and Heisman-caliber football performance are a part of his story. Williams was a major get for Carlson and Leinart.
“Caleb (Williams) is the base of NIL," said Carlson. "Us having Caleb on board; it immediately legitimizes what we’re trying to do in the NIL space. Because he’s an absolute trailblazer and pioneer."
Right now, Williams is getting ready to beat Utah in the PAC-12 Championship Game on Friday. He's also looking to lock up that Heisman Trophy, as he's currently averaging 9.1 yards per pass attempt and 10.5 adjusted yards per pass attempt. Therefore, he doesn't have a ton of time at this moment to help out with the game. He's still able to grind at it, though.
"Obviously he’s in-season, so his time is limited, but from a creative aspect; we’ll connect with him and his team on what he thinks is cool and with what we’re doing, and give us some feedback on stuff…I think as we get further and further down the road with development, we’ll continue to engage with him and see what he likes, what he doesn’t like, and get him involved and work on campaigns to market the game and things like that."- Greig Carlson, HoG co-founder
Carlson isn't so worried about his ability to land future stars like Williams as he furthers the game development, too. He actually finds his pitch pretty easy, and his pitch to be one that's easy to get players on to.
"It’s pretty simple actually. It’s; ‘Hey, do you want to be in a video game and make money.’ And the reception is always ‘Yes.’...I think that every athlete can identify with the thought of being in a video game. And again, I think they all understand that there’s a chance here for them to make passive income well beyond their playing years."- Greig Carlson, HoG co-founder
The game is set to launch in early 2024. It's easy to see this game being huge when it's being founded by guys like Carlson, Leinart, and Williams. If it's about tapping into these athletes' fanbases, that's not going to be hard when they have the avatar lineup that they have currently. Also, be honest. The name's pretty hard not to stand out as well.
"I came up with (the name HALL of GOATs) kind of on my own," said Carlson. "The term GOATed, GOATs, everybody wants to be thought of as a GOAT at some point."