MLB.com.Another week has come and gone in what feels like the blink of an eye. Is it really time for us to once again go through everything related to the worlds of sport and virtual reality (VR) from the last seven or so days? Apparently so. So let’s get on with things…
Pac-Man (Not The Namco One) Set To Go Virtual
Those of you with particularly good memories will recall that world renowned Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao, widely regarded as one of the best boxers of all time and certainly one of the biggest names in the modern era of professional boxing is not totally unfamiliar with VR. Back in 2015 Pacquiao was one of a number of celebrities brought in to try out the then brand new Samsung Gear VR, with Pacquiao left apparently flabbergasted by his outer space trip.
Now it seems Pacquiao is set to become virtual himself thanks to a new deal agreed with South Korean developer Appnori Inc. Appnori was established by CEO Howard Lee, whose history includes a long stint as a GUI developer and mobile programmer for Samsung Mobile.
Appnori are perhaps best known for their ‘Kings’ series of VR videogames. Ping Pong Kings, Baseball Kings and now as revealed at a recent VIVE X Asia demo day the slightly awkwardly titled The Manny Pacquiao Boxing Kings VR.
It’s not actually clear if Pacquiao’s involvement in the game extends beyond licencing his name and possibly likeness as the game appears to be in a very early stage and no footage of it was shown. However Appnori did reveal plans that the game will include offline and online play with the goal of eventually inviting top ranking players to compete in a special (offline) tournament at which Pacquiao will adjudicate as a referee.
Prior to this agreement with Pacquiao, Appnori had also teamed up with Taiwanese baseball team Lamigo Monkeys. This also all follows Appnori’s tie-up with the International e-Sports Federation (IeSF), announced last month with little fanfare.
“The VR industry has already made several breakthroughs in terms of hardware. VR contents will grow explosively in the future, and it is time to adapt quickly to expand the scope of esports.” Said IeSF Secretary General Alex Lim. “In this regard, we are pleased to work with Appnori. VR and esports combined will create various synergies and will be the next combination for esports to expand. IeSF will make sure that esports is not only about creating business but also to look for creation of universal values for society, and to take care of the people involved in the industry as well.”
Sean Kwon, Appnori’s Head of International Business also confirmed in his Vive X presentation that they had five titles “in the pipeline” with graphics shown confirming that along with boxing, VR videogames based around football, badminton, archery and fencing are also being developed. It was not confirmed if this would be a continuation of the Kings series or not but it is likely that they are.
Battlegrounds VR Makes It’s Debut
Battlegrounds VR appeared twice in London over the last week. Firstly at POP Brixton last weekend where it made its world debut and then in Hyde Park this last Tuesday. Battlegrounds VR is a a brand new virtual reality (VR) gaming experience which has been developed by Major League Baseball (MLB) and gives baseball fans the chance to swing for the fences in a ‘Home Run Derby’ for either the Los Angeles Dodgers or Boston Red Sox.
The experience put you on the plate in either team’s stadium and utilizes both quadrophonic sound courtesy of audio electronics brand Altec Lansing and the HTC Vive head-mounted display (HMD). Most noticeable however is that it takes place inside ten foot high steel cage – a sensible precaution when you’ve got someone who can’t see the real world around them swinging a bat around .
MLB.com ‘s Vice President of Games and VR Jamie Leece, commented: “Battlegrounds is an amazing opportunity to bring our European fans this unique combination of virtual interactive technology and the challenge, skills and fun atmosphere of Major League Baseball.”
Red Bull’s X-Fighters Get Let Loose In Madrid
Yesterday saw the latest round of Red Bull’s 2017 X-Fighters competition, held at Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas, a famous bull ring which has been a venue for the Red Bull X-Fighters contests now for 16 years. However, as VRFocus reported yesterday, in the hours leading up to the event the drinks company released a new 360 degree video featuring ‘novilleros’ (debuting stars) Fred Kyrillos and Christian Myer – in a Where’s Wally/Waldo style caper.
You can see the video below.
There’ll no doubt be even more sports news related to VR and it’s sister technologies in the next week. Be sure to check back throughout the weekend for everything else VR going on.