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Meta deepens ties with NBA, offers more games in VR

Meta is expanding its collaboration with the National Basketball Association (NBA), the company announced. It will offer more than 50 live virtual reality (VR) games on Meta Quest.

The firm is continuing its foray into the VR world, and says it will make available a package of 52 live NBA games.

This will include five immersive 180-degree monoscopic VR games in 5k resolution on Xtadium and Meta Horizon Worlds that will also feature celebrity broadcasters. In Meta Horizon Worlds, fans will also be able to access game highlights, recaps, and archival content.

NBA fans can already visit the dedicated arena to watch with friends, compete in interactive mini-games, and cheer on their favorite teams.

Meta says that fans will be able to watch even more content in the app with an NBA League Pass subscription, already available worldwide, but until that is introduced games will likely continue to be free in Horizon Worlds.

“Thanks to the immersive power of VR, you can enjoy all the action and suspense of a live game from the comfort of your couch – on us,” Meta said in another blog post.

“Meta’s immersive VR technology is opening up new opportunities for sports fans to engage and interact with their favorite NBA teams,” said Rob Shaw, in charge of sports media and league partnerships at Meta.

“Fans will be able to express their fandom by donning their favorite team’s gear on [Meta] Avatars and enjoy more live NBA games in a much more social and immersive way. The NBA is always pushing us to innovate and leverage the latest technology to open the door to new fan experiences, and this chapter of our partnership certainly achieves exactly that.”

The NBA has been offering games in VR for several years. The league signed a deal with Meta in 2020 for the Quest headset to be the “presenting partner” for viewing content in VR.

It might be a smart move. VR headsets are still primarily seen as – criticized previously by some as too expensive – gaming devices, but live sports viewing experience could encourage non-gamers to try the gadget out.

Games will continue to be geo-restricted, meaning that someone near an event will not be able to view the game in VR – presumably, the idea here is to push people to attend the game in the physical arena.

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