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NBA partners with Verizon Media to bring games to Oculus Venues

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NBA games are coming to Oculus Venues thanks to an innovative partnership with Verizon Media that has the potential to transform VR into a new means for absent fans to experience live sports

Quick read

➨ After a hiatus following the outbreak of Covid-19, the professional basketball league in the US is returning to Disney World in Orlando, but with a new format and without fans in attendance
➨ To bring an immersive, arena-like experience to fans, RYOT will produce live NBA games in 360° video and transport the physical games taking place at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex to fans at home via their Oculus devices
➨ Thanks to a VR partnership with Oculus, more than a dozen live NBA games will be distributed via Oculus Venues on Quest and Go from today through to 14 August

The story

The National Basketball Association (NBA) in the US is turning to VR to make up for the fact that the league’s return today will be without fans present.

Verizon Media divisions Yahoo Sport and RYOT, a VR production studio, will serve as official marketing and immersive product partners, respectively, for the league restart, kicking off today in Florida.

After a hiatus following the outbreak of Covid-19, the professional basketball league in the US is returning to Disney World in Orlando, but with a new format and without fans in attendance.

To bring an immersive, arena-like experience to fans, RYOT will produce live NBA games in 360° video and transport the physical games taking place at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex to fans at home via their Oculus devices.

Thanks to a VR partnership with Oculus, more than a dozen live NBA games will be distributed via Oculus Venues on Quest and Go from today through to 14 August.

The NBA is encouraging basketball fans to purchase an Oculus Quest headset as part of the partnership.

Guru Gowrappan, chief executive officer of Verizon Media, described the NBA’s foray into immersive technology as “exactly the kind of innovative solution we love to create with our partners”.

Gowrappan continued: “RYOT’s powerful VR capabilities will deliver a truly immersive live experience at home, creating a seamless experience between the physical and digital world.”

“Working with the NBA to redefine the fan’s experience of the game has amazing implications for the future of sports and entertainment.”

As an official marketing partner, Yahoo Sports will engage fans through fantasy and sports betting in new ways, including the right to create sports betting content and expanding its existing distribution of the league’s premium live game subscription product, to include gaming integrations.

Bill Koenig, president of global content and media distribution at the NBA, said: “As the NBA Restart tips off this week, our expanded relationship with Yahoo Sports will offer a variety of unique ways for fans to engage with the NBA.”

“With everything from fantasy games, sports betting integrations, gaming-focused content and NBA games in VR, there will be no shortage of opportunities to get closer to the game.”

The return of live sports around the world without fans in stadiums and arenas forced their organisers to turn to innovative partners such as Verizon Media to boost coverage and access.

Without ticket and merchandise sales, professional sports face a significant revenue shortfall that could continue for potentially months and years to come.

It will be interesting to see whether the arrival of a brand such as the NBA on Oculus will boost Quest headset sales and in turn transform VR into a viable distribution platform for a professional sports league in desperate need of new revenue streams.

Let VRWorldTech know what you think via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or editor@vrworldtech.com.

Main image: RYOT will produce live NBA games in 360° video

Source: https://vrworldtech.com/2020/07/31/nba-partners-with-verizon-media-to-bring-games-to-oculus-venues/

AR/VR

XRI Launches Survey Examining Diversity & Inclusion Within XR Industry

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Just like any other industry, XR needs to be a diverse and inclusive place for everyone, but that can vary wildly based on a number of factors. So a new initiative called XR Inclusion (XRI) led by industry professionals has launched a survey to collate data from across the globe alongside a startup kit to help companies reduce discrimination and inequity.

For the survey and startup kit XRI has partnered with experts like Stacey Gordon, CEO of Rework Work and Kristen Nesbit, from national labour and employment law firm Fisher Phillips. Together with XRI’s global members, the free XR Startup Kit offers checklists, templates and training focused on vital business areas such as job descriptions, hiring, unconscious bias, code of conduct, safe channels of communication and much more.

While the kit can help new businesses, the XRI wants professionals to take part in its free, anonymous survey, to help give a clearer view of the ecosystem at present. Thus helping highlight where it’s doing well and where improvements can be made.

“With startups, there is typically less structure, less awareness around inclusive processes and biases, and less red tape in general,” said Gordon in a statement. “By taking an active approach to creating diverse and inclusive company cultures from the start,  barriers to progress can be reduced and business performance can flourish, which makes the startup stage a perfect time to not only do what is right on a human level, but also to do what is best for the long term success of the business.” 

“As a founder in XR, I wish I’d learned the things in this kit sooner,” said Taylor Freeman, a founding council member of XRI. “Our goal at XRI is to provide startups with resources and systems to support the development of inclusive, professional and safe cultures for both the employees and the company. These foundations should be essential and I believe investors shouldn’t even fund companies without ensuring they have these things in place.”

Tackling diversity and inclusion is vital for any company large or small, wherever they are in the world. When details of the report are made publicly available, VRFocus will let you know.

Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2020/11/xri-launches-survey-examining-diversity-inclusion-within-xr-industry/

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The VR Game Launch Roundup: Breaking out the Big Guns

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As it’s Black Friday you might be more interested in what deals are to be had today but don’t spend all your money. Next week a new selection of virtual reality (VR) titles are on their way, set to provide varied gameplay experiences.

Shuttle Commander – Immersive VR Education

Originally slated for release last week, Shuttle Commander is an educational title where you command NASA’s Space Shuttle taking it on various missions to the Hubble Space Telescope. Part physics-based flight simulator you will need to land it at a number of real-world locations, such as Kennedy Space Centre, White Sands Air Force Base and Edwards Air Force Base.

Frostpoint VR: Proving Grounds – inXile Entertainment

A team-based multiplayer shooter from the studio behind The Mage’s Tale, Frostpoint VR: Proving Grounds offers 10 vs 10 tactical battles across an abandoned military base in Antarctica. With realistic weapon physics, both teams also have to tackle an alien race of biomechanical creatures who are gunning for everyone.

Project Wingman – Sector D2

A dogfighting experience which is geared towards action rather than a full-blown simulator, Project Wingman has over 20 different aircraft and 40+ weapons to swap between. For those who love to immerse themselves in flight combat videogames, Project Wingman supports HOTAS peripherals.

Prison Boss VR – Trebuchet

Trebuchet’s comedic take on becoming the boss of a prison originally came to PC VR headsets back in 2017, and now it gets the Oculus Quest treatment. Craft and trade with the other inmates to improve your living conditions whilst upping your reputation, just don’t get caught by the guards.

  • Supported platforms: Oculus Quest
  • Launch date: 3rd December

ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos – MyDearest Inc.

The sequel to Tokyo Chronos, ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos takes place 300 years later where humans are hiding underground from deadly creatures known as Meteora. Part comic, part interactive experience, you’ll be able to pilot giant mechs whilst trying to unravel the mysteries of these beasts.

Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2020/11/the-vr-game-launch-roundup-breaking-out-the-big-guns/

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All the Best VR Deals for Black Friday 2020

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Retailers began their Black Friday deals at the start of the week but now its the big day itself, where all the limited-time deals come together for a bonanza of savings (hopefully). Virtual reality (VR) fans can get in on the action too, albeit more on the software side than the hardware for 2020. So here’s VRFocus’ roundup of the best deals available online.

Headsets

When it comes to headsets you might be hoping to pick up an Oculus Quest 2 or HP Reverb G2 a little cheaper. Alas, they’re way too new to be discounted during this sales season, even the Valve Index from 2019 isn’t discounted anywhere that VRFocus could find.

Whilst it’s not a Black Friday deal for those after an Oculus Quest 2 currently any purchase until 31st Jan will include PC title Asgard’s Wrath for free.

HTC Vive – UK

  • Vive Cosmos – Now £599 (previously £699)
  • Vive Cosmos Elite – Now £799 (previously £899) + Half-Life: Alyx free
  • Vive Cosmos Elite (HMD only) – Now £449 (previously £549) + Half-Life: Alyx free
  • AORUS 15G Cosmos Bundle, now £2,289 (originally £2,549)
  • AORUS 15G Cosmos Elite Bundle, now £2,459 (originally £2,749)

HTC Vive – US

  • Vive Cosmos – Now $599 (previously $699) + 2 Months Viveport Infinity
  • Vive Cosmos Elite – Now $799 (previously $899) + 2 Months Viveport Infinity
  • Vive Cosmos Elite (HMD only) – Now $449 (previously $549) + 2 Months Viveport Infinity

PlayStation VR

Games

If you’ve already got a VR headset then it’s software you’ll be after and this is where most of the deals can be found. Oculus Store, PlayStation Store and Steam all have various discounts going on, plus there are some physical deals to be had on PlayStation videogames.

Oculus Store

  • PlayStation VR
    • Physical
      • Marvel’s Iron Man VR – £19.99 – Smyths (check local stock)
      • Blood & Truth- £14.99 – Smyths (check local stock)
      • Blood & Truth- £15.99 – Amazon
      • Star Wars: Squadrons – £19.99 – Amazon
      • The Walking Dead Onslaught – £24.99 – GAME
  • SteamVR – Autumn Sale

Accessories

  • Cybershoes – PC VR
  • Kat Walk C

Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2020/11/all-the-best-vr-deals-for-black-friday-2020/

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A Wake Inn Pulls Those Trailer Strings Ahead of a 2021 Release

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There were plenty of virtual reality (VR) titles announced during the week that would normally have been the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), VR Bros’ A Wake Inn being one of them. An immersive horror experience originally slated for this year, the team has just released a new trailer moving the launch to early 2021.

A Wake Inn is a scary title featuring a classic horror staple, mannequins, those lifeless, dead-eyed entities which work so well at terrifying almost everyone. The twist here is that not only is the art deco hotel where the gameplay is set filled with an army of living dolls, you also happen to be one. And then there’s the mysterious Doctor Finnegan, owner of the estate who talks to you via a shortwave transmitter.

The story revolves around you finding out who you are, how you ended up here, and how to get out whilst avoiding the other not so friendly dolls. As VR Bros puts it: “Is it time for the player to take revenge on their maker and set themselves free, or perhaps they’re just a puppet being pulled by its strings?”

In a similar fashion to Last Labyrinth, you’re bound to a wheelchair, making A Wake Inn an entirely seated experience. That’s where the similarity ends, as in this experience you’re given free rein to explore the hotel and figure out its various escape room-style gameplay elements. You operate it just as you would any manual wheelchair, moving the controllers as if pushing the wheels.

Further thought has been put into the gameplay interactions as well, a flashlight for lighting up the darkness which does run out of batteries, a radio with custom stations, and the cinema room where you can watch tapes found around the building.

A Wake Inn will support HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Valve Index when it launches next year. For further updates on this wheeled horror, keep reading VRFocus.

Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2020/11/a-wake-inn-pulls-those-trailer-strings-ahead-of-a-2021-release/

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