Is this how the next World Cup will be viewed?

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By Creative Media News

The World Cup is the most-watched football competition on the planet, but former Liverpool and EA Sports CEO Peter Moore believes the metaverse will revolutionize how fans participate in the World Cup and other sports.

How have you followed the World Cup?

Within the living area? At your local? Given the kickoff hours in Qatar, you may have been watching at work.

And with the sheer number of matches each day, you’ve probably watched a decent amount of them on your phone, either live or via highlights while on the road, with Twitter or WhatsApp always a tap away so you can scream into the void about where you believe Gareth Southgate is going wrong.

Is this how the next world cup will be viewed?
Is this how the next world cup will be viewed?

A few tournaments ago, the notion of being able to watch matches in the palm of your hand, no matter where you were, was unfathomable. However, the World Cup, due to its quadrennial character and worldwide popularity, has always been an excellent indicator of technological and consumer trends.

From the first World Cup in color in 1970, when Pele-led Brazil astonished the world in Mexico, to Germany in 2006 ushering in the HD era, to the current reality that in China, the tournament broadcast rights were obtained by the country’s version of TikTok, we’ve gone a long way.

“I’m old enough to remember watching football in black and white,” Peter Moore says, coming from a sun-drenched California that cannot be imagined in any other hue.

The former EA Sports and Liverpool FC chief executive works on what he believes will be the next chapter in the history of World Cup broadcasting from this location.

“The second goal for Japan,” he says about Germany’s shocking loss in Group E’s opening match.

How well watch the next world cup
Is this how the next world cup will be viewed?

“Manuel Neuer, one of the best goalkeepers of the last decade, was at fault. I’d want to be able to drop the camera into the penalty area as he was shooting so I could see exactly what he saw and determine what went wrong.”

The German leader will be relieved to learn that the answer does not include attaching a GoPro to his chest. Nor would the Japanese match-winner Takuma Asano be expected to wear smart glasses on the field like a futuristic Edgar David.

The alternative method draws on Mr. Moore’s time at EA, the gaming firm responsible for popular sports titles such as Madden NFL, Tiger Woods PGA Tour, and – most notably – FIFA.

The absurd camera angle

“In real life, you have never been able to view the absurd camera angles that are feasible in computer games,” adds Mr. Moore.

And an entire generation has grown up accustomed to holding the controller and seeing these viewpoints.

In fact, for more than two decades, sports video games have allowed players to pause the action and fly a virtual camera over the field with a level of precision and fluidity that actual broadcasters can only dream of.

And as graphics get more realistic, the chance to blur the border between the digital and the physical becomes alluring.

Unity is a video game software firm best known for its engine of the same name, which it licenses to other game developers for use in their games.

But much as Epic’s Unreal Engine has been utilized outside of games, most famously to build backdrops for The Mandalorian, Unity is diversifying its portfolio.

How is the technology implemented?

Mr. Moore, who is in charge of Unity’s sports and live entertainment division, provided a quick overview of how the company’s technology has already been applied to the UFC.

Two boxers were “volumetrically captured” on a Los Angeles soundstage for the demonstration. Multiple cameras positioned everywhere around them caught the fight, and the data is then converted into “voxels” – 3D pixels that, after being processed by powerful computer software, can produce photorealistic models.

The ultimate result is that the fighters appear as they would in the actual film, revisualized via data, and the viewer may dive into any perspective.

You become essentially your cameraman.

In a throwback to his background, Mr. Moore remarks, “Video games come to life” as he navigates the combat on an iPad.

It demands a great deal of computer power and bandwidth, but like every other piece of technology I’ve worked with, it evolves.

The idea is to eventually migrate the capturing equipment used on sound stages to live venues.

In a couple of years, according to Mr. Moore, it will be “ubiquitous and available to everybody with a touchscreen device,” suggesting it may be ready for England’s miraculous 2026 World Cup victory.

Fans may scoff at the ambition, particularly those who spent a four-figure sum on a 3D television a decade ago because they were told it was the future of broadcasting.

And Unity also views the technology as a component of the much-discussed metaverse, which for others is little more than a Silicon Valley-cooked tech fantasy.

However, when Mr. Moore says it will be accessible to all, he truly means it.

If he were still at his former team Liverpool, which he left in 2020 after three years and the club’s first Premier League title, he would propose it to manager Jurgen Klopp as a means of analyzing games.

And it’s become a nasty word among coaches, fans, and commentators, but Mr. Moore believes the technology could even alter our perception of VAR.

England winning the World Cup would be a miracle in and of itself.

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