The future will look a little bit like Fortnite.

According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, “the metaverse is the successor of the mobile internet, the next big technological challenge of the following decade”.

Football is entertainment, and entertainment is technology.

In sport, 3.5 billion fans worldwide would happily interview an hologram of their favourite player from home or live first-hand the atmosphere in the dressing room before a Champions League final through virtual reality.

The concept of the metaverse can help us to understand the future of the sports industry. Today, nothing is closer to the metaverse than the global cultural phenomenon Fortnite, one of the most successful video games in history.

Welcome to the metaverse

It is not about having more digital experiences, but feeling more human in the digital world. The metaverse refers to a variety of virtual experiences, environments and assets that exist beyond the analogue world.

An enormous decentralised opportunity for entertainment, where virtual and augmented reality, NFTs or digital avatars are only a tiny representation of this new shared online space. An “embodied internet” not designed by a company, but built many businesses and individuals.

Among potential metaverse leading companies such as Microsoft, Google or Amazon, Facebook openly explained how their “overarching goal across key divisions like product for communities, creators, commerce and virtual reality is to help bring the metaverse to life”.

Gaming is expected to play a big part of the future ecosystem, allowing users express themselves with unprecedented naturality and interoperability. The popular game Animal Crossing already signed Dior, Louis Vuitton and Gucci for its virtual outfits.

Fortnite, changing the game

With more than 350 million players worldwide, Epic Games’ Fortnite became the most important video game of the decade. A new model “totally free to play, but with billions of dollars being spent on in-game microtransactions and other rewards”.

Generating a total revenue of no less than $2.4 billion in 2018, Fortnite began as a game in 2017 and evolved into a social hub. While older generations spent hours talking on the phone, now teenagers use Fortnite to talk about school, movies, sports and more.

Content, digital outfits known as “skins”, “emotes” dances and other assets have established as valuable sources for monetisation. A new, inclusive and economic chance for creators to participate and make a social contribution at the convergence of physical, augmented, and virtual reality.

Earlier in 2021, Neymar Jr. was the most famous global celebrity to get its own Fortnite skin, following Epic Games continued investment and development of sports content. In January, the game brought 23 global football teams across 5 continents in to the game.

Decentralizing fan experience

The relationship among fans, clubs and sponsors would no longer be bidirectional in the metaverse, but interconnected like never before. Cross-channel activations from partners, working together to elevate the fan journey, should not be the exception.

Empowering fans will make attention and trust even more fluid, where inclusion, privacy and intellectual property are set to become fundamental issues for the next chapter for the technological industry.  

Even though giants like Facebook will pioneer the implementation of the metaverse, sports organizations have the responsibility to embrace synchronous and live experiences across realities to win in the long term.

A whole different new game is coming.

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