Manchester City has started construction on the world’s first football stadium within the metaverse with the support of virtual reality experts at Sony.
In a virtual reality world, the club’s stadium will become the major hub of City thanks to image analysis and skeletal-tracking technology developed by Hawk-Eye, a subsidiary of the tech and entertainment company.
City executives working on the initiative see a time when a virtual Etihad Stadium may be filled multiple times over, allowing fans who may never travel to Manchester to watch live games from the comfort of their own homes anywhere in the world.
The Premier League’s digital pioneers have inked a three-year partnership with Sony, and while development on the project is still in its early stages, teams of Sony experts have already visited the Etihad to digitally map it and reproduce it in virtual reality.
Participants can explore the metaverse as digital avatars, which is effectively a virtual reality version of the internet.
Facebook is leading the charge to make it a reality, with the goal of creating “a set of virtual spaces where you can create and explore with other people who aren’t in the same physical space as you.”
Visitors to these virtual areas will be able to work, play, learn, shop, create, and hang out with friends, among other things, if Facebook is successful.
Fans meeting players in the metaverse, communicating with one another, and purchasing things that aren’t available in real life are some of the other ideas being investigated.
“The whole point we could imagine of having a metaverse is you can recreate a game, you could watch the game live, you’re part of the action in a different way through different angles and you can fill the stadium as much as you want because it’s unlimited, it’s completely virtual,” Nuria Tarre, City Football Group’s chief marketing and fan engagement officer, told I media.
“But also you’re in control of what you want to be watching at that time. There’s not one broadcast point of view, you can look at it through any angle of the stadium. That’s the sky – the limit.”
The metaverse is currently accessed and explored using hand controllers and a headset. Football and virtual reality developers believe that present technology will allow a match to be duplicated in a digital version, similar to how the Fifa video game looks, but that in the future, viewers will be able to watch genuine games played in a virtual stadium.
City hope to fill the virtual Etihad Stadium five times over, allowing fans from all around the world to witness live games.