There was a time when virtual, augmented, and mixed-reality hardware was a niche form of entertainment. Mostly deployed for playable experiences, particularly virtual reality remained a premium way to have a different kind of fun. Following Facebook’s change to Meta and the massive amount of investment pumped into its Metaverse project, companies are going big on making reality hardware more accessible, useful, and desirable.
Meta made seeing concerts live in its Metaverse environment a key selling point, triggering competitors to try to come in and do it better.
Improving the current live online experience
Perhaps Meta’s greatest challenger in this arena now is Apple, following the release of the Apple Vision Pro to take on the Meta Quest 3. Already, both have demonstrated how hardware can lead to better live experiences.
The live experience online has been around for many, many years, be it via live video platforms or online sports streaming. Without a headset, easily the most advanced, or at least, the most immersive, form of live experience online comes by way of live dealer games, as identified by industry experts. Bonus.ca identifies best paying online casinos in Ontario, and a key part of its deliberations is the number of high RTP live dealer games.
These range from blackjack and its 99.4 percent RTP to that of European roulette at 97.3 percent. In each of them, the user sees the live studio on their screen and can make the calls and decisions needed to play the games in real-time. It’s all done live, and as the user’s commands are registered and accepted, it makes live tables much more immersive and less passive.
While these kinds of products could find themselves in the Metaverse one day, offering live, human croupier-led casinos in the virtual world, for now, it’s about developing the spectator experience. Apple is already running with this thanks to its mixed reality headset. Via Apple TV 4K, the multiview feature looks primed to be adapted for VR and MR, thanks to NextVR being under the Apple umbrella and specializing in live sporting events and concerts.
Meta putting testers live in a front-row seat
For Meta, the NBA has been its main focal point for a foray into live sports in the virtual world. Back in March, a video was posted online accredited to Mark Zuckerberg, which demonstrated the technology in action. In the video, you see the user morph from the real world into the virtual to take a front-row seat at a live NBA game. The user can hear live commentary and when they look down, the score can be seen on the floor.
This comes via a huge partnership between the NBA and Meta’s Xtadium app. A platform within the Horizon World metaverse, the technology allows viewers to get a full 180-degree of a game in real-time. It’s not just an NBA platform, though. Xtadium has hosted UFC bouts, NASCAR races, and even some for streaming platform DAZN. Still, this season, Xtadium will be hosting 52 games for those with a Meta Quest headset.
A huge barrier for many customers is that the virtual world won’t replicate real-world interactions. With these advancements in live XR applications, the line is getting blurred, and for some, the headset-encased experience offers better options than buying an expensive ticket and going to a stadium.