Today, Linden Lab announced a partnership with multiple professional teams from the Overwatch League (OWL), including the Houston Outlaws and the San Francisco Shock. According to the press release:
This first-of-its-kind collaboration goes above and beyond what traditional two-dimensional chat and streaming allow, and will give gamers a deeper way to connect and communicate – enabling fans to interact one-on-one with popular players and personalities, stream matches in virtual watchspaces created by their favorite teams, and show their support through exclusive branded merchandise.
Sansar’s latest offering arrives right as the global demand for esports reaches a new peak, and while teams everywhere face increased pressure to deliver memorable fan experiences, VR has remained noticeably absent from the broader conversation – until now.
Sansar offers esports fans an immersive, interactive viewing experience on par with a real-life event – complete with virtual photo opps, meet-and-greets, and exclusive giveaways. Fans can use Sansar on both PC and VR to connect in their team’s branded virtual watch space, tune into live stream matches, and buy custom skins and merch. Other features coming soon include real-time stats integration, in-match player audio sharing, and more.
“We’ve seen a real need in the esports market for a deeper, more engaging fan experience – something that can go beyond normal spectatorship to really draw people in,” said Ebbe Altberg, CEO at Linden Lab. “We feel social VR is perfectly poised to meet this need, and we’re thrilled to find forward-thinking esports partners that feel the same – trailblazing teams that recognize VR’s potential and are willing to evolve and innovate to deliver world-class experiences. Their investments in Sansar are investments in their communities.”
Now, I am not an esports expert, and frankly, I’ve never heard of the Overwatch League before today. (Why, yes, I do happen to live under a rock! Excuse me while I take a swig of Geritol and shake my cane at those darn kids on my lawn!) Here’s an introduction to Overwatch, which is apparently a very popular video game:
How popular? Well, according to reports from a year ago, they have over 30 million players, and they also have a very active Reddit community. So Linden Lab is obviously hoping that there’s a market for Overwatch fans to gather together in VR and watch gamers play against each other.
Here’s more from the Esports Observer blog:
- Linden Lab’s Sansar announces partnerships with multiple Overwatch League teams.
- Houston Outlaws and San Francisco Shock will help to create virtual watch spaces where fans can interact with players and personalities.
- Sansar’s future esports integration will include real-time match stats, and in-match player audio sharing.
Linden Lab, the creator of Second Life, has decided to deliver virtual reality experiences to esports fans. It will partner with multiple teams in the Overwatch League to build virtual watchspaces through their VR social media platform, Sansar.
In the announcement, it was stated that the Houston Outlaws will name its virtual clubhouse “The Hideout,” while the San Francisco Shock will have a VR arena called the “Epicenter.” With both spaces, fans will be able to buy custom team-themed skins and merch for their Sansar avatars. Both OWL teams will open their virtual hangouts with real-life launch parties in their home cities.
My ears did prick up at the mention of “skins”. We’ve been waiting for custom skins for Sansar avatars for a while now. Could that be coming soon?
NOTE: You can install the Sansar software client, if you don’t already have it, at https://www.sansar.com/download.