Rafael Bücker Rapalo is a Brazilian who loves both football and coding. His labour of love is World of Football (WoF) which he first started building as a hobby more than five years ago. This year, just before the FIFA World Cup, a chance meeting with an Upland director changed his life. He is now an official partner with Upland, is developing his game on the popular property metaverse and now has five full time developers on his team.
“It all happened very quickly,” he says.
Quickly is a relative term as he has dedicated five years and many long weeks to what now players are calling “the most addictive football skill game”. He had attempted to study systems engineering in college, but it wasn’t for him. Instead, he began to operate as a full stack developer working on mobile and web apps.
“This was easy as I’d been coding since I was only 15 years of age, picking up different languages in technical school. One of the platforms he was interested in was Unreal Engine, one of the most popular game development engines.
The genesis behind WoF was to create a multiplayer football simulation game.
“It’s not like a video game where the images are like streamed video and the players don’t really control the actions and the result is more like an arcade game. In WoF you have basic controls, there are no hidden combinations and as a result you are actually in total control of the ball.
“It appeals to hardcore gamers who like competitions playing in eSports. Our target audience is not traditional FIFA EA, or just EA now. And it’s always a multiplayer game. To send the ball in the right direction, you really need to line up the ball properly – as in real life.”
In the beginning, Rapalo tried out the game with close friends in a beta community. Word spread into other games communities and soon his tightknit group had spread to 3000 players.
“We said please do not share outside of our closed beta – we want to finish the game before we can publish it.”
Since the launch that number has grown very quickly to in excess of 13,000 with new players coming on board across the world, specially from the MENA region.
It’s a free to play game but in time Rapalo hopes to monetise the player base through the sale of digital accessories in the game.
“We might also let players earn digital accessories too or trade them on the marketplace. We are trying to figure out the best way forward in conjunction with the community.” His vision was always to allow true ownership of in-game assets and an open economy.
In time, Rapalo has plans to bring in championships with fees that can in turn form the basis of prize money, as well as an ability to wager on different teams.
“Our aim would be to take a cut on transactions on many aspects including customizing stadiums and adding billboards around the fields. There are many options.”
WoF is still communicating in largely stealth mode. It communicated the partnership with Upland in its Discord and Telegram channels. There is also an active community on TikTok with some videos receiving millions of views.
“Overall there are some 70 million views on WoF TikToks.”
Rapalo has big plans for his WoF. He knows he will be responsible for constant revision and upgrades to the game. Players can gain early access though choosing which server they want to join, however in time he wants to include features such as player matching – aligning players of similar skill levels.
“Ultimately, we want to create a fair, competitive environment with a very straight-forward experience, where players can simply press a button to queue for Matchmaking, and the game will automatically create a match with players of similar skills.”
Partnering with Upland may have begun as a chance meeting but already it is paying dividends in terms of downloads and interest. Initially there were 40,000 downlands from the metaverse, with several thousand active players.
“We have a lot more to do, but we are very excited at the reaction of the community and the partnership with Upland. And while I began with a football game, I have always wanted to have a gaming company with multiple different titles, and when the time is right, I will start branching to other genres.”
As an indie game developer the partnership with Upland has been transformative for his distribution – a problem for many independent game developers. The visual immersion layer of the Metaverse allowed for context –metaverse football fields to enter a football match– as well as tapping into an active community. The Upland community has really adopted WoF and are sharing videos and TikToks in support. In Atlanta the community has built four stadiums, another in Rio de Janeiro and three more in the States. communities across the Upland Metaverse are already forming a league.
Rapalo works long hours to make his dream come true but he insists he isn’t a hermit – with a wife and young child this Christmas he is determined to ensure they have a fabulous time. Oh – and they might play a little WoF.