Leagues and Governing Bodies

NBA, NBPA partner with Niantic on augmented reality mobile game

By Eric Prisbell
NBA All World will integrate real-world objects, including outdoor basketball courts, with 100,000-plus courts already mapped outNiantic

Niantic, the developer of hit games like Pokémon Go, is partnering with the NBA and the NBPA to create an augmented reality mobile game called NBA All-World. Officially licensed with the NBA and NBPA, the game is touted as a first-of-its-kind product that will place NBA fans into the metaverse. The game offers a free-to-play immersive experience in which players can challenge and compete in their neighborhoods against digital characters depicting today's NBA players. It integrates the real world, including actual outdoor basketball courts, into the game. Niantic has 100,000-plus courts mapped out, opening up enormous creative possibilities. Given the robust international presence in the NBA, imagine integrating the courts where Luka Doncic, Ricky Rubio or the Gasol brothers used to play into the game. "What we are doing is taking the world, the whole globe, and we're turning that into video game objects," Niantic senior producer Marcus Matthews told SBJ. "There is just nothing like this out there. It's never been done before. That factor on its own, plus the level of realism that we're going for, combining that with the outdoor exploration, this will be a novel experience."

DIGITAL FUTURE: NBA Head of Digital Consumer Products Adrienne O’Keeffe said because it is location based, the game offers myriad ways to tap into the backgrounds of international players; customize the game for fans in their local regions; or create game-centric special events that align with NBA All-Star weekend or the NBA playoffs. "In the future, the NBA is going to be defined by digital innovation, and our ability to bring the game directly to fans on their device where they live," O'Keeffe told SBJ. "And whether that's through games -- being live-action games, or video games and other experiences -- this is a new way to engage with our fans." NBA All-World also offers the ability to outfit players in the game with custom apparel. Today is the game's soft launch; a widespread release is tentatively targeted by the end of the year.

See SportTechie for more on how sports entities are trying to make the best possible use of the metaverse.

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