Watching a football game in a virtual reality environment will be “real” and plans to build a stadium in the virtual world already exist. Manchester City aim to have the first virtual stadium and become the first Premier League club in the virtual world. Working with Sony’s virtual reality experts, the British club will use its subsidiary HawkEye’s image analysis technology and skeletal tracking system.
The virtual Etihad Stadium aims to be the central hub for Manchester City to welcome fans into the world of virtual reality. The aim is to welcome fans of the club who cannot attend the stadium in person, allowing them to watch the game from the comfort of their home anywhere in the world.
The agreement between Manchester City and Sony is valid for three years. While the project is still in its infancy, technologists have already visited the Etihad Stadium to begin work on the digital map that will serve as the infrastructure for its virtual reality build.
“We can imagine the main goal of having a virtual world is the possibility of recreating the game, which can be watched live, where you can participate in different ways and from different angles,” stressed Tal, the club’s marketing manager, Nuria, an iNews publication. The idea is to watch the game the way fans want it because the cameras aren’t as imposed as traditional TV broadcasts. The idea is to let fans navigate the virtual stadium and settle in as they wish.
Fans will be able to explore new ways to play football and also buy products not available in real life. I believe that in the next 10 years, the experience of passively watching sports events on the sofa will no longer be a reality. It will span real broadcasts of football matches like the interactive tools you see in FIFA video games.
Entering the virtual world is designed to capture the attention of younger audiences, who are increasingly moving away from TV broadcasts on living room screens. It’s about creating the next generation of football fans, not replacing the real sport. Not least because empty stadiums, as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, take away the magic of sports. Buying digital products in a virtual environment is more acceptable to younger generations, similar to what the gaming industry has seen with its microtransactions, such as games like Fortnite, FIFA, etc.
In the case of Fortnite, the Epic Games video game has become a high-demand stage for virtual concerts, inspiring other areas that hope to appear in the metaverse, such as football.