Google regularly creates augmented reality and virtual experiences in partnership with brands or events, usually in the form of temporary features in the Google Search mobile app. This time around, Google has partnered with the NBA to create a ‘Pixel Arena’ accessible to all mobile devices, with a character customizer and a few mini-games related to the NBA.
Google wrote in a blog post on Monday, “The NBA Playoffs are back this Saturday, and we have a game-changing virtual experience to take the game you love to the next level. The NBA and Google Pixel Arena is a virtual space based on live in-game action where you can create, play, share and celebrate your 2022 NBA Playoffs skills.”
Once you open the Pixel Arena from the NBA mobile app, on either iOS or Android, you can create your own avatar with gear from various teams. During real-life games, 3D shot recaps will appear in the Pixel Arena court based on the NBA’s data, and there’s also a trivia mode you can play to level up your character and unlock new cosmetic items. Google says the mode was jointly developed by itself and the NBA.
Even though it’s called the ‘Pixel Arena,’ the virtual experience is accessible to all devices — a bit like real-life stadiums, which are usually named after the primary corporate sponsor (like the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas).
In related sports news, Google announced last week that it would broadcast 15 upcoming Major League Baseball games for free on YouTube. That partnership is good news for any baseball fans without a cable subscription, but it’s yet another exclusivity deal in a season that already has games split up across different broadcasters — for example, Apple snagged the rights to Friday Doubleheaders for its Apple TV+ subscription service.
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