The English premier league, Manchester City FC will soon roll the ball in the Metaverse. The squad started a three-year partnership with tech giant Sony aimed to bring football experience to the virtual world.
Etihad Stadium is the venue to be replicated in the Metaverse where fanatics will leave their sofas to live games and meet players through their avatars. The building has yet commenced with the full scan of the real stadium.
The ambitious project envisages utilizing cutting-edge image analysis and sensing technologies alongside skeletal-tracking and virtual recreation technology by Sony’s Hawk-Eye Innovations – a subsidiary of Sony – allowing real-time replicas of live games.
In the Etihad virtual stadium, fans will be part of the action by controlling the angle and section from which they prefer to enjoy the match. For those never traveling to Manchester or who could not find a ticket, in the virtual enclosure, entrances are unlimited. Moreover, the project contemplates loyalty programs, customizable avatars, and if you want a souvenir, there will be a virtual shop with products that do not exist in real life.
The limits of football in the Metaverse are unfathomable for ManCity. If the virtual stadium takes off, it will be an overturn in broadcasting rights since it could be possible to move an entire series like the English Premier League to the Metaverse, where each team could offer their own package and sell it at will.
Other initiatives engaging fans through the Metaverse exist, for instance the NFL Tycoon initiative in Roblox. Nonetheless, Manchester City is definitely a first mover in the route of vivid sports in the virtual space as expressed by Nuria Tarre, Chief Marketing & Fan Experience Officer, City Football Group:
“At Manchester City we have a strong pedigree of continuously embracing the latest technologies to enhance our operation – with particular focus on exploring ways to engage and entertain our global fanbase. This partnership with Sony puts City at the development stage of an exciting project that will create immersive digital fan experiences that have never been seen before in football. We’re looking forward to launching this collaboration and bringing together Sony’s industry-leading technologies with the global network of Manchester City fans,”
ManCity also states that virtual Etihad is not seeking to eliminate human contact and assistance to real life games. It can be considered an alternative for millions of soccer lovers in remote areas, the next-gen of supporters, and undoubtedly a valve of escape in emergency situations such as the Covid-19 pandemic that led to suspended and behind-closed-door matches.