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NBA unveils VR experience to promote regular season

The NBA is building up buzz for both its regular season, which began last month, and its digital properties with a new virtual reality experience that continues its NBA 2K series.

The experience is created in partnership with 2K, the publisher of the popular NBA 2K series of video games, and is available on PlayStation VR, HTC Vive and Samsung Gear. The VR experience lets consumers step into the shoes of an NBA player and play with the stars.

?Our team consistently looks for new ways to deliver unique, fun experiences for the gamer,? said Greg Thomas, president of visual concepts. ?NBA 2KVR will give fans even more access to our franchise and test new skills across entertaining VR challenges.?

The team calls it simply NBA 2KVR and it lets consumers play a series of mini-games revolving around basketball, all in virtual reality.

Players will join NBA all-star Paul George, who will guide them through a variety of basketball activities that can be completed within the experience. Mr. George will provide feedback on how they perform as well as tips and tricks that are applicable to both the VR experience and playing basketball in general.

Users can competed in a variety of challenges including three pointers, speed challenges and buzzer beaters.

NBA and 2K are also partnering with Gatorade, who will provide brand sponsorship within the VR experience in the form of Gatorade fuel boosts that will aide users shooting skills when they are collected.

The NBA 2KVR Experience

The experience is a continuation of the sports league?s popular series of video games, NBA 2K, which just released its latest installment, 2K17, in September of this year with Mr. George on the cover.

VR sports
With the regular season now fully underway, the NBA is looking for new ways to promote its brand to demographics outside of its core player base. To do that, it is latching onto one of the hottest trends both in gaming and in marketing ? virtual reality.

Virtual reality has proven popular as a marketing tactic in a variety of industries from the expected ones such as video games and sports, to the unexpected such as online retail and nature documentaries.

In the sports world, Fox recently began broadcasting football games live through its VR app (see story). This broadcast was one of the first big VR pushes for sports broadcasting and the NBA may be interested in something similar as it continues to explore virtual reality avenues.

Paul George

On the other end of the spectrum, retailers such as eBay have tapped into the technology as a tool for commerce, creating the first ever fully VR department store that users can browse through (see story).

As more and more VR platforms begin to surface, giving brands more varied opportunities to make use of the technology to reach their consumers, expect brands such as the NBA to continue making use of it in new ways to connect with consumers on an intimate level.

?As a lifelong fan of NBA 2K, it?s exciting to see them take the leap into VR, and even more exciting that it?ll be on my home court,? said Mr. George. ?I can?t wait for fans to dominate on the virtual court with virtual help from Gatorade.?