Sony and Man City make a metaverse
The Future. Sony has unveiled a demo of its collaboration with the English football club, Manchester City, to build a metaverse offering centered around watching soccer. Sony has a functional prototype and plenty of resources, but given the lackluster performance and popularity of the other metaverses on the market, it’s not clear that this one will be a hit, either. To succeed, Sony may have to prove to users why their virtual stadium beats watching the game on TV.
Sony showed audiences a “proof-of-concept” version of its metaverse experience at CES 2023 in Las Vegas.
- The experience lets users hang out in a virtual reconstruction of Man City’s Etihad Stadium with custom avatars. There they can communicate with other fans, storm the field, and even view virtual replays of real game highlights from the POV of players’ avatars.
- Sony employs volumetric data and footage capture to recreate players’ movement on the field. It’s not super hi-res, but that’s to be expected because the product is aimed at lower-specced devices like laptops and smartphones.
- Users can create avatars via a smartphone app slated for release in 2023. But it’s still unclear which parts of the experience will be accessible via the app — the virtual stadium, game highlights, and/or avatar creation.
The project was announced back in November 2021.
The burning question is what a virtual stadium like this one actually adds to the experience of watching sports. Graphics-wise, Sony’s offering is (understandably) a far cry from what TVs capture in real-time. So the Sony-Man City collab has to provide some unique social upside if it’s going to beat the alternative of meeting in person to watch a game or even watching alone and surfing Reddit.
So far, no one has really succeeded in creating something like that. But if someone’s going to pull it off, Sony’s as good a bet as anyone else. They own Bungie and are a shareholder in Epic Games — meaning they’ve got ties to experts in building popular virtual worlds — and they’re on the cutting edge of both VR tech (see the upcoming PlayStation VR2 headset) and motion-tracking systems. We just won’t know until they blow the starting whistle.