If you squint, sports fandom doesn’t look all that different from video game fandom. In each, people have their favorite players (or larger-than-life characters), there are stats to pore over endlessly. Anyone with an impulse for collecting things can likely be drawn in by either pastime. It’s easy to see, then, how Niantic ended up landing an AR gaming deal with the NBA.
NBA All-World, announced today, is Niantic’s newest entry in what the Pokemon Go maker is now increasingly referring to as “real-world” games, a nod to CEO John Hanke’s belief in AR providing the foundation for a “real-world metaverse.” The game will come out on both iOS and Android and is expected to be up and running at some point in the next NBA season. With as many eyes on pro-basketball as there are, if Niantic and the NBA plan this rollout correctly, we could see an AR gaming boom similar to the one Pokemon Go enjoyed in 2016.
That’s a big if, though, and I might sooner bet on myself being able to make a shot from the 3-pointer line than on this game becoming a huge success. My first impressions of NBA All-World—from a presentation given to the press—was that it could use some fresher AR hooks or some more pronounced real-world basketball ties.