The metaverse presents a tantalizing prospect for sports teams like Manchester City vying for more immersive fan engagement.
English Premier League Club Manchester City has commenced construction of the world’s first football stadium in the metaverse in partnership with Sony.
City has joined forces with Sony to help fans be a part of every game from wherever they are. The project, still in the early phases of its three-year duration, has seen virtual reality specialists do an initial digital mapping of the club’s stadium to develop a virtual reality stadium. This venture has the potential to bring in huge revenues for the club, considering the club’s Twitter has $11.6M followers. The club’s stadium, known as the Etihad, will be the core component of a virtual reality world made possible by Sony’s Hawk-Eye tracking technology and image analysis expertise.
What the future could hold
The chief marketing officer of City, Nuria Tarre, had this to say about the anticipated metaverse experience, “The whole point we could imagine of having a metaverse is you can recreate a game, you could watch the game live, you’re part of the action in a different way through different angles, and you can fill the stadium as much as you want because it’s unlimited, it’s completely virtual.” The metaverse is best described as a virtual world with highly sophisticated visual and art experience and crypto-based DeFi backbone, filled with self-governed communities, and powered by interoperable blockchain networks.
The seven-time champions of the English Premier League are exploring the possibility of fans meeting players in the metaverse and purchasing products unavailable in the physical world. It is likely that purchases will be made using cryptocurrencies.
Participation in the metaverse is achieved via a virtual reality headset and hand controllers to interact with the virtual space. Reality Labs, a division of Meta, formerly known as Facebook, is looking to be an early player in the metaverse. With its recent purchase of gaming giant Activision Blizzard, Microsoft has also made its play for the metaverse clear.
Current metaverse development allows for a soccer match to be played in the virtual world, having the appearance of a FIFA video game. The ideal of watching real games in a stadium is “not too far off,” according to Andy Etches, a co-founder of Rezzil. Rezzil is a company responsible for a metaverse game Player 22 used to train Premier League players.
Should the metaverse concept catch on, it could see Premier League clubs selling broadcasting rights directly to fans through their own metaverses. Gartner Infotech recently predicted that 25% of people will spend an hour in the metaverse by 2026 for, amongst other things, entertainment. The Premier League broadcasts are currently sold to television networks as a package.
Not everyone is thrilled about the metaverse being in the hands of big companies or institutions. In a survey conducted by the Advokate Group, 77% of 1000 American respondents were particularly concerned about Facebook’s role in the future of an immersive virtual world.
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