Football Fans Stand Up! How Virtual Platforms Help Replicate the Fan Experience Right at Home

When it comes to sports, there is an entire industry devoted to watching, playing, and dissecting sports of all kinds. However, for most of human history, sports were only an in-person occurrence, requiring players and fans to be physically present at the game. 

But, in 2022, this is set to change. Thanks to virtual technology and the emergence of Facebook's "Metaverse," virtual sports are quickly becoming a thing. Current world champions, the LA Rams, are even embracing it by creating a virtual venue for fans to interact with each other and with the team. Pretty soon, individuals will be able to watch games in a virtual football stadium, which is a literal game-changer. 

If you're excited about the prospect of sports in the Metaverse, we're about to blow your mind. Let's dive in and see what the future holds. 

A Primer on the Metaverse

Although virtual reality has been around for a while, it's only started to gain real traction in the last few years. When VR first came onto the scene, it was buggy, and the environments were poorly rendered. 

Fortunately, computers are far more advanced in modern times, and virtual environments are much more user friendly. One company going all-in on the "Metaverse" is Facebook, which recently changed its corporate name to Meta to reflect its shift from social media to virtual reality. 

But, how does the Metaverse work, and how are virtual sports part of it? While we won't break this concept down too much, here are the broad strokes: 

Individuals can create avatars, which are digital representations of themselves. If you've ever played video games, you're already familiar with this concept. A user's avatar can explore virtual environments through platforms like Sandbox or Mirandus and interact with other avatars.

So, it's easy to see how the Metaverse can be used for everything from sports to entertainment to social interactions. Now, users can meet and interact with each other from anywhere to participate in meetings, concerts, games, and more. 

How the LA Rams are Embracing Virtual Venues

To illustrate the potential of the Metaverse and virtual sports, the LA Rams have opened the first virtual venue in the sports industry. This will likely be the first of many, and it enables fans to interact with the team throughout the year, not just during the football season. This virtual venue offers some exciting features, such as: 

  • Chatting With the Team - Fans can get an up-close and personal view of the team, including the players and managers. Since it all happens virtually, it's much easier for people to get unprecedented access. 
  • Community Development - Football has a way of bringing people together, both on game day and beyond. Now, fans can chat with other people within their seating section and discover new friends organically through a high-tech virtual event platform. 
  • Family Activities - Games are a great place to bring the kids, and an interactive venue ensures the little ones never get bored. The team can also offer prizes to make the experience even more engaging. 
  • Merchandise Trading - As fans get to know each other, they may decide to trade virtual Rams merchandise, including hats, jerseys, t-shirts, and more. These interactions can also happen with the team directly, opening up additional revenue streams. 

Since this venue is still fresh, everyone is trying to figure out how to use it effectively. However, the platform allows the team to create a replica virtual football stadium, where fans can watch games as their avatar. This space also makes it possible to host a virtual watch party, where fans can hang out and watch the game as they would at a house party or other venue. 

The Benefits and Downsides of Virtual Sport Venues

If you're not involved with virtual reality or the Metaverse, it can be challenging to wrap your mind around how virtual sports might work. However, venues like the ones for the LA Rams have a lot of potential uses. Here are some of the pros and cons of taking sports into the virtual universe: 

  • Pro: Reduced Costs - Building a venue or interactive space in the Metaverse is much more affordable than renting or developing a physical building. So, a sports event planner can use more of their budget for interactive entertainment and guest speakers. 
  • Con: Limited User Base - Right now, virtual events and venues are more popular than ever, but they're still not quite "mainstream." It may take a little while for average users to get on board with the idea of attending an event virtually and exploring a digital space with an avatar. However, as more brands and companies utilize the technology, the idea will gain a lot more traction. 
  • Pro: Unlimited Potential - As programmers and developers flesh out the Metaverse, venues and interactive experiences will only become grander and more spectacular. Imagine hosting a football game in space or a watch party in the belly of a volcano. Event options are limited only by the imagination, making them far more engaging than something at a hotel or similar venue. 
  • Con: Technical Issues - Even though virtual event technology is pretty advanced, technical glitches can still happen. For example, what if there are issues with the internet connection? Or, what if a venue space bugs out and doesn't render correctly? If the power goes out momentarily at an in-person event, it may not really affect anything. If the same thing happens at a virtual event, the whole party stops immediately. 

The Future of Sports Entertainment and Engagement

As we mentioned, the LA Rams virtual venue is the first of potentially many. As teams and event planners get used to the Metaverse and expanded event app options, the possibilities will become literally endless. Players can even get in on the action and play games as their avatars and interact with fans directly. For example, imagine watching a virtual football game, then meeting the players "in-person" afterward at a party. 

The Metaverse broadens the potential for hybrid event scenarios too. For example, augmented reality programs allow virtual avatars to exist in a physical space. So, a camera operator could broadcast a live stream, and online guests could "walk" around the physical room using their avatar. This option is much more immersive and engaging than a regular Zoom meeting. 

Fortunately, apps like 6Connex make all this possible, and the technology will only advance and adapt to users' needs. We're really excited to see what the future holds for virtual sports and the Metaverse as a whole. 

Build a Virtual Venue With 6Connex

If you're interested in hosting a virtual event or building a virtual venue in the sports industry, 6Connex can help you turn your ideas into (virtual) reality. Best of all, this technology is scalable and customizable, enabling planners and coordinators to get more from their events. Contact us today to find out how we can transform your next event.

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