After releasing non-fungible tokens (NFTs) of player artworks, English football club Manchester City is now building a virtual stadium in the metaverse where fans can get the experience of watching a live match inside the Etihad stadium remotely using virtual reality (VR) headsets.
The City Football Group has signed a three-year agreement with Sony, who will help them build the virtual stadium by providing VR technology, image analysis and skeletal-tracking technology, as reported by Cointelegraph. Sony’s VR team has already started mapping the stadium. Sony’s subsidiary company Hawk Eye is one of the leading providers of computer vision systems to multiple sports including football, tennis, cricket and volleyball.
Though Premier League matches are streamed on TV channels and OTT platforms in most countries including India, the option to watch matches in the metaverse will take the whole experience to a new level. It will also help clubs if the covid-19 situation worsens and they are again forced to play matches behind closed doors as they had to throughout most of the 2020-21 football season.
Nuria Tarre, chief marketing officer of City Football Group had earlier said that the whole point of metaverse is to make fans part of the live action in a different way through multiple angles. It will also allow football clubs to fill the stadiums as much as they want since fans will be watching virtually.
Several consumer facing companies and banks have built their virtual stores and lounges in the metaverse. Last week, US based JP Morgan Chase & Co, opened a virtual lounge on Decentraland metaverse.
Prior to announcing the plans to build a virtual stadium in metaverse, the City Football Group has been experimenting with NFTs. The club has dropped several NFT collections since 2021. Last month, they dropped the Heroes of Manchester collection that includes digital artworks of existing players Fernandinho, Ruben Días, Kevin de Bruyne, İlkay Gündoğan, and Kyle Walker. The artworks are hand made by artist Jose Delbo, a well-known comics artist who has worked with DC Comics on Wonder Woman.
Metaverse has been around for years in the form of 3D open world games such as Second Life. However, with access to VR and AR devices, companies have the option to provide more immersive real-world experiences virtually. Facebook’s parent company Meta Platforms is working on moving the current social media experience into the metaverse where users can also own goods and property using non-fungible tokens (NFT).