Sony has had a busy CES 2023 so far. Plenty of new announcements have been made by the gaming and tech giant, and one of those announcements was a new virtual stadium experience in which you can hang out with your friends and watch soccer matches in the metaverse.
Yesterday's Sony CES 2023 presentation was absolutely packed. We got to see the first footage of the Gran Turismo movie, as well as getting a first look at the new Project Leonardo PS5 accessibility controller. As well as those innovations, Sony also gave us a look at an experience it's currently calling "Virtual Fan Engagement".
The idea behind this initiative is to recreate iconic sporting stadiums and venues within the metaverse. Fans can hang out in these spaces, watch sporting events together, and see moments from matches at different angles, including player's-eye views and more. You can check out a trailer showing off the Virtual Fan Engagement experience here.
The trailer shows a full recreation of the iconic Etihad Stadium, the venue of choice for English soccer team Manchester City (with whom Sony is collaborating on this venture). Fans are seen celebrating City goals, jumping for joy when the team wins, and reliving epic moments from the match using an interface that lets them see the action from various different players' points of view.
In the CES presentation itself (section starts at around 19:39 in case the timestamp fails), Sony's senior product planner Nami Iwamoto says part of the plan is to help fans who can't otherwise travel to stadiums to "experience the atmosphere" and share the "excitement and enthusiasm" of a match with others. Naturally, you'll also be able to create avatars within this metaverse and interact with others using those avatars.
The presentation also has talking heads like Haven Studios' Jade Raymond, musician Lil Nas X, and Bungie's chief development officer Justin Truman talking about what the metaverse (and ongoing live-service game development) can offer gamers. It might not convert skeptics, but it's interesting to hear about some of the accessibility applications for metaverse technology in any case.
Sony seems to be throwing itself entirely behind the Fortnite idea of a metaverse, which is to say a virtual hangout space where you and your friends can attend events or do other stuff together. The company has not quite nailed its NFT and blockchain colors to the mast yet. When asked whether its PlayStation Stars program was offering players NFTs as rewards, Sony categorically stated this was not the case, but a patent was discovered late last year that suggested some sort of Sony NFT initiative might be in the pipeline. We'll have to wait and see.