SOURCE: Virtex Arena
It was the top of the inning, and everyone had their turn at bat, all 20,000 fans in the ballpark. This is what new augmented reality app Virtex Arena offers baseball fans: A chance to play along on field, right from their seats, competing against everyone in the stadium at the same time.
In between innings, a virtual game appears in the middle of the field, and fans use their own phones to see and interact with the scene. “If you’re at the ballpark, you hold up your phone and see the event from your perspective. The view from behind home plate is different from the view at first base, as though the virtual players were actually in the real space before you,” explains Virtex CEO Jeff Green. Real-time adjustments give different perspectives on AR characters and games on the field.
Baseball has a built-in cadence with downtimes that offer the perfect opportunity for AR games between innings. “Virtex gets viewers involved in a much more active, personal way,” explains Green. “They can feel more directly connected to what just happened or what’s about to happen on the diamond.”
The interaction adds a layer of extra fun to a great day or evening at the ballpark. Gameplay is divided into several rounds, letting players compete with each other and vote what equipment can be used in subsequent rounds. The games themselves are easy-to-learn and instantly enjoyable.
All players have to do, after downloading the free app from their preferred store, is enter their seat number in the stadium into the app, then play along, using their smartphone as a window into a virtual world layered over the playing field. For baseball fans, the app will feature two different types of games, batting by swiping on screen at a virtual pitcher’s curveballs and catching fly balls using virtual in- and outfielders.
These games also create new spaces for sponsors and teams to engage fans. “The possibilities run the gamut from basic virtual signage that echos what teams already offer sponsors, to more sophisticated and exciting integrations,” explains Green. “For example, we can create special balls or bats with extra cool powers and branding that reflects a sponsor, integrating their logos and message directly into gameplay.”
Virtex is creating apps tailored to major league ballparks across the country, including New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. Virtex looks to partner with teams and sponsors to attract a wide audience, enabling thousands of people to participate in an event that can only happen at the stadium.
“We think AR can contribute to teams’ sponsorship offerings, adding value without disrupting established relationships,” Green notes. “We also think fan engagement stands to grow considerably with a quality AR experience of the game.” Virtex can build excitement in both the stands and the backoffice, bringing fresh energy to the thrills of America’s favorite pastime.