The first-ever virtual reality NFL game is coming to market, the league announced Wednesday.
What Happened: The NFL is partnering with StatusPro, a sports tech and video game company founded by former football players Andrew Hawkins and Troy Jones.
“We keep the athlete first in everything we do, and as former football players it means even more to be able to recreate what it actually feels like to step out on the field,” StatusPro CEO Jones said.
Jones said the goal with the company’s proprietary technology is to deliver an “immersive experience” that helps gamers transform into professional athletes.
The game will use athlete data through a license partnership with the NFL.
The new, untitled game will be released for the Meta Quest VR platform from Meta Platforms FB and the PlayStation VR headset from Sony Group Corp SONY.
“Virtual reality gaming is rapidly expanding, and our partnership with StatusPro allows us to explore a new immersive version of NFL gaming with support of the two largest VR platforms within this emerging space,” NFL SVP of consumer products Joe Ruggiero said.
The NFL said the new VR game will let gamers “play like a professional football player through a first-person 3D immersive experience.”
StatusPro’s existing Pre-Game Prep product provides real-time player data to help simulate in-game scenarios and is used by several NFL teams.
StatusPro counts Naomi Osaka, LeBron James, Maverick Carter, Drake and Jimmy Iovine as investors.
Why It’s Important: The Madden franchise from Electronic Arts Inc EA has been one of the best performing annual video game titles and is one of several sports-themed video games that performs well annually.
“Madden NFL 22” was the third-bestselling video game in 2021, trailing only two titles in the popular “Call of Duty” franchise.
Sports games continue to be popular, with MLB, FIFA and NBA games also ranking in the top 20 video games by sales in 2021.
“We are seeing a growing number of fans engaging with VR and we’re excited to launch the first-ever VR gaming title that complements our existing offerings in the market today,” Ruggiero said.
His comments suggest the NFL sees room for multiple annual video games.
StatusPro plans on making the game an annual release, which could provide competition to the Madden game franchise.
Skillz Inc SKLZ is also working on a NFL-themed mobile game through its NFL Game Challenge. The game is expected to be released during the 2022 NFL season.
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