NBA and Pokémon Go developer Niantic team up for AR basketball game

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is teaming up with Pokémon Go developer Niantic to create an original AR mobile game titled “NBA All-World“. The league touts this as” a first-of-its-kind game “that will place NBA fans into the real-world metaverse.

NBA All-World is a free-to-play officially licensed geolocation basketball game where players can find, challenge, and compete against today’s NBA ballers in their neighborhoods, and then recruit them to their team. NBA All-World will also embrace the fashion of the NBA, with users having the ability to outfit players in the game with custom apparel. MARKETING-INTERACTIVE has reached out to the NBA for additional information on the partnership.

Matt Holt, NBA’s head of consumer products, said through this partnership, the game will provide fans across the globe the opportunity to fully immerse themselves into the energy and excitement of the NBA. “Evident in the name of the game itself, we look forward to engaging with our fans around the world through this captivating experience,” he added.

Meanwhile, Niantic’s senior producer, Marcus Matthews, added that NBA All-World represents “an industry first in sports games”, as an original, real-world AR game that will appeal to casual and core NBA fans alike. We’re creating and designing a game that empowers players to represent where they’re from and showcase the culture of their neighborhood, “he said.

At the same time, Josh Goodstadt, EVP of licensing for THINK450, the innovation engine of the National Basketball Players Association, said the game gives the league an opportunity to bring NBA players into Niantic’s real-world metaverse, opening up paths for fans to interact with them in a new way. “Niantic has proven experience building games that encourage engagement in local communities, and having our players integrated into NBA All-World adds to that immersion, “Goodstadt explained.

While the NBA might be pushing the boundaries of its involvement in the metaverse with the Niantic partnership, this is not the first time the league is bringing the game to life through this channel. In May, the NBA unveiled an immersive VR experience known as NBA Lane through Horizon Worlds on Meta Quest 2, enabling consumers in North America to step into the NBA-themed metaverse and celebrate their love for the game. Some of the activities included free throw shootout, low-gravity dunk contest, and selfie time in the NBA trophy room.

Earlier this year, the leauge also introduced Coach Nat, a computer-generated coach that is able to virtually teach anybody basketball inside the metaverse. Coach Nat said in a presentation during the All-Star Tech Summit that its role is to help coach, train, and develop the next generation of NBA talent.

Separately, on the corporate front, the league appointed Ramez Sheikh as MD of Asia, replacing Scott Levy who is leaving at the end of this month. It also expanded its presence in Asia Pacific in April by opening an office in Singapore.

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