Manchester is set to welcome digital twins of its favourite footballers in a major sports metaverse campaign with OKX, it was revealed on Thursday.
The world’s second-largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume revealed it had teamed up with Manchester City Football Club legends. Stars featured in the OKX Collective metaverse experience include Alex Greenwood, Jack Grealish, Rúben Dias, and Ilkay Gündoğan.
The Collective will offer fans sports metaverse environments for first-hand Web3 experiences complete with bespoke content, rewards, and others.
Each player will feature content based on playing style and interests such as training, music, and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
OKX joined Manchester City as its official training kit partner for the 2022-2023 football season.
Haider Rafique, Chief Marketing Officer at OKX, said introducing the footballers to its “newly established metaverse” aimed to share “boundless possibilities” in Web3.
He added: “Web3 has the potential to be bigger than everything that came before it, and this is just a taste of the incredible experiences it stands to enable.
Footballers ‘Kick Off’ Metaverse Debut
Grealish, Greenwood, Gündoğan, and Dias offered their take on their first-ever experiences with extended reality (XR).
Speaking on the sports Metaverse, Grealish explained that Manchester City and OKX were “both winners.”
He added that the partnership between football and the Metaverse would allow fans to become “closer to the action” He added he enjoyed the collaboration and “bringing my digital profile to life.”
Greenwood explained that he was also excited to team up with OKX and “[head] into the metaverse for the first time.” Digital collectibles and trainers offered in the collaboration were a positive “next step” in collaborations between the football and metaverse industries, he concluded.
Continuing, Gündoğan explained how the sport “all about community” and that the OKX Collective would become “an incredible place” for footballers.
A long-standing fan of Web3 technologies, he said that he had followed developments in the space “for some time” and could not “wait to learn even more with OKX.”
Dias concluded that he was “delighted” to team up with OKX to offer fans insights on his match preparations.
He concluded: “I hope to showcase the power of the metaverse and continue learning in this fast-moving space.”
The news comes amid XR-backed sports campaigns that aim to boost engagement between brands, teams, players, and their fans. Here are some of the most recent use cases across sports.
EE 5G Superstore Mini Sports Metaverse
Located at London’s iconic Wembley Stadium, British telecom provider EE launched its 5G Superstore to allow fans to pilot its augmented reality (AR) experience. Using AR-powered smartphones, fans can incorporate digital overlays of the superstar athlete and view items before purchase.
The solution leveraged EE’s massive 5G networks and advanced technologies for immersive experiences to purchase England matchday sportswear. The AR experience also provided virtual avatars of England and Liverpool FC athlete Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Nreal-Immersiv-Devon Football League
In August last year, Chinese smart glass manufacturer Nreal partnered with Immersiv for the latter’s “personalised 3D” system for live broadcast AR visuals.
The initiative aimed to promote live-streamed footage of the SuperCup 2022, with Nreal stating the new solution could become the “future of TV.” Visuals included virtual broadcast screens, AR visuals for player stats and event analytics, and interactive real-time 3D (RT3D) content.
FIFA-Algorand World Cup 2022 NFT Collectables
The Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the world’s largest football association, joined forces with Algorand to launch a series of NFT collectables for the 2022 World Cup and Women’s World Cup in Qatar.
Leading up to December last year, Algorand opened the collectables at the end of September. The campaign offered fans moments captured from FIFA World Cup histories such as art and photos.
FIFA’s Chief Business Officer Romy Gai explained that the brands engaged with fans in “new and exciting” ways due to demographics. New immersive campaigns allowed FIFA to democratise the blockchain for fans to “own a part of the FIFA World Cup.”
Sony-Beyond Sports Acquisition
Japanese tech giant Sony bought out Beyond Sports to facilitate large-scale metaverse creative content for sporting events. Its RT3D content will integrate with Sony’s immersive solutions.
Tennis, baseball, basketball, and football will receive immersive upgrades using Hawk-Eye Innovation’s proprietary technologies. These will track real-time ball positions on sports pitches and courts. Sony’s Pulselive will also provide sports metaverse live-streamed tools for audiences.
Insomnia Labs-Curry Brand NFT Collectables
Finally, Insomnia Labs teamed up with the National Basketball Association (NBA) by hosting NFTs of superstar Stephen Curry’s Under Armour Curry Brand trainers.
The NFT and crypto trading platform commemorated the NBA finals and Curry’s record-breaking three-point shots with an equal number of NFT collectables.
Partners such as Cyber Kongz, Hape, Chibi, and Smilesss developed digital assets. Basketball Heads featured in the collection are minted avatars operating synchronised with real-time performance.