The Future of Sports VR
Virtual reality has come a long way since the science fiction depictions of virtual reality simulations we saw in our television shows or books. The latest developments of VR are continuously pushing the limits of what developers can do with our favourite video games and sports. Yes, sports! In recent years, the biggest focus on VR has been on the games that game manufactures and developers have been creating; how can they better immerse a player into their favourite game? One aspect of VR that has eluded the the spotlight is the developments that are being made for sports. To better understand the options available to VR enthusiasts and how to get the most of out of your gaming VR experience, we’re going to highlight some of the biggest VR sports news in recent years.
If you’re a fan of competitive sporting leagues like the NFL or NHL, you’ll be familiar with the multimedia developments that broadcasting companies have been making over the years. We have ball trackers in football and puck trackers in hockey to better help fans when the plays get too fast or complicated. The use of multiple camera angles and the use of 360-degree camera has helped showcase the sports better than before. It’s all been for the benefit of the fan that can’t make it to the game to watch it in person. So it would make sense that the next step in watching a competitive sport would be with VR.
Companies like NextVR have started to bet on this latest development in sports entertainment and have started to covering professional sports, such as the 2015 NBA opening season match between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Golden State Warriors. The same company has also covered the Super Bowl, ICC soccer games and a few NHL games. They are one of the several companies try to take a dominant stance in the industry with some success. With the limited resources, they are one of the first companies to deliver sports VR with an uncomplicated system. They are limited in what they can broadcast but it’s still a big step for the industry.
Another sports titan is creating a similar experience to NextVR and that’s FOX. FOX has created their own app for the Oculus Rift. FOX Sports VR is a free application that allows fans to immerse themselves in any game that’s playing. They boast the ability for fans to have their own private stadium suite for them to watch live events in virtual reality. What’s really immersive about this application by FOX is that your private stadium can host other guests who can watch the game with you, fully decked with your favourite team’s colours to ensure your buddies know who’s the better team.
There have been mixed reactions from fans who enjoy watching their favourite teams through VR because they argue they miss out on the experience of being at the game. While getting tickets for your favourite NFL team might seem hard to get, getting tickets for the Olympics is even harder. Fans of the Olympics don’t have the luxury of buying not only tickets to the Olympics but the plane ticket, the hotel costs and food costs if they want to enjoy the Olympics. The latest news from sports VR is that the 2018 Winter Olympics can be experienced through the power of VR. NBC will be providing over fifty hours of live VR coverage during the XXIII Winter Olympic games from the beautiful South Korea. Users will be able to watch their favourite Olympic sport with several of the available VR headsets. Each coverage will not only have the sports on full display for the user to watch but it will also have a comprehensive interface, a full data stream to complete the viewers’ knowledge as well as athlete scores, team scores and the overall standings of each sport. This VR experience will be one of the first times the Olympics will be available in VR for fans around the world.
Along with competitive sporting leagues like the NFL or the NHL, watching esports has also been a new development in the VR sporting industry. Valve introduced VR to its popular MOBA Dota 2 by developing a stadium view of the game to enjoy with friends. Valve has development a VR Theatre in which fans can watch live matches, replays or even streams through the Dota VR Hub. The VR Hub brings the feeling of a stadium or major event to the player’s living room and opens up the viewing for 15m friends. It’s quite the esports experience for dedicated fans who want to view more games with their friends.
Another MOBA that is racing to develop the next best VR experience to its fan base is League of Legends. In collaboration with Riot Games, Grab Games have created a teaser of what is in development for League of Legends. In the preview of the game, you can see a user watching a League match while an AR map is on the table beside the player. You can track your favourite champion or player and watch the entire map from the completely different perspective. While it’s not out yet, Google keeps teasing esports fans with this upcoming VR experience.
Regardless of the type of fan you are, there are a couple of things that every fan should have in their arsenal to complete their sports VR experience. Besides a VR headset and a working computer, there are a few things can help out any fan. Whichever platform you are watching your game on, you’ll probably have some sort of place to sit down. Watching the Super Bowl while standing up for hours is not good on your back or your body. It’s suggested to have a good idea to sit down and relax if you’re a fan who gets excited when a big play happens. Make sure that you have correct posture and that your chair is designed for preventing any back issues. Most VR users also play video games so getting a gaming chair might be a good accessory to ensure long-term enjoyment of your favourite VR games. Another good thing to have on hand is a directory for the team stats and, in case your friends are the betting kind, an informative guide for game odds. It’s good to have information on the teams you’re watching and what to look for in their gameplay.
Whichever sport you enjoy, VR is making some incredible developments in their software and in their interfaces. The ultimate goal of VR is to immerse the user in a realistic and captivating landscape. The newest development of the 2018 Winter Olympics having the capability to deliver live streams to VR users is incredible. It’s bringing fans closer to the games than ever before. The future is definitely changing the way fans are able to engage with the game, deepening our love of the game.