Saturday, December 3, 2022

Is VR The Right Step Forward For The UFC?

The UFC will be beginning a new journey into virtual reality (VR).

The UFC has announced some big news in the world of watching and streaming events. They have partnered up with Meta’s Horizon Worlds to offer live virtual reality streaming and live-action events. Fans around the world will be able to feel like they are right there at the events using a Meta Quest 2 headset.

Rumors of this technology began to gain traction when Meta and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was granted the entire UFC APEX arena to watch the UFC Vegas 60 event. Now, this rumor has become a reality as the first VR event is set.

What Is VR?

Virtual reality is defined as a computer-generated environment with scenes and objects that appear to be real, making the user feel they are immersed in their surroundings. The way the VR experience will work in regard to UFC fights is still a bit unclear. There are a few different ways the viewing can go.

The basics that fans will need to watch the fights are a Meta Quest 2 headset, a Meta Horizon Worlds app on the headset, and a Fight Pass subscription. When using a headset like the Oculus, the world around you becomes whatever it is you are watching. Ideally, fans will be able to move around as they please by seeing exactly as they would in an arena.

How Can I Watch The Fights?

The view is perhaps the most interesting part of this venture. It is unclear if fans will have seats that they are sitting in and can move freely about the arena as if strolling through a level in a video game, or if the view will be from the center of the Octagon. In theory, being inside the Octagon would be the best view but maybe not be practical if you have to keep moving around to see.

Fans will want to experience this new viewing style with friends, no doubt. It would be nice to sit “together” and chat through the headsets. Imagine sitting next to your friends cage side while Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev are smashed up against the fence right in front of you. That is the experience we all would like to see.

Another opinion would be being in a “room” where the fight is being played on a screen. There are options inside the Oculus to watch movies or other events where you virtually enter a room that could look like a living room or bar and watch with the virtual crowd.

Will This Experience Cost More Money?

To watch these VR events you will need several subscriptions. You will need a Fight Pass subscription which costs $9.99 a month. You will have access to live VR events and on-demand events as well. You will also need a headset in which to watch these events. Oculus headsets run around $400. If the event is a PPV, you will also have to pay for the event as you would always.

Now, will the athletes be getting any extra in their paychecks because of this new deal? That remains to be seen. It is no secret that the UFC has in the past brought on partnerships and sponsors that did not directly go to the fighter pay. They recently partnered with Crypto.com and the fighters did not see any of that money. Eventually, they did set up a voting system in which fans could award bonuses to fighters through Crypto.com. There could be a similar thing happening through the Metaverse in the future.

What are the Pros and Cons?

If done well this new technology could be very interesting to fans. During that pandemic when fans could not attend events and even now the UFC is not back to visiting all the cities there were before the lockdown. Those people will now have the opportunity to see the events as if they were actually there.

Also, this is a great way to boost the MMA community. People will be able to meet like-minded fight fans that they wouldn’t have ordinarily met. The way it is being described will allow people to chat during the events and become friends on the app.

The downside could be price hikes. First fights were free on TV or you could pay for a PPV event. Then came Fight Pass, now you can pay for Fight Pass and ESPN+ and the prices of PPV events have risen. It is costly to be an MMA fan. This form of watching fights although innovative, is costly, including equipment.

This weekend was the maiden voyage of this VR technology. The technology was unveiled at LFA 144, on Friday, Oct. 14, at 9 p.m. ET, from Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Will you be tuning in to the first-ever VR experience?

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