With ePlay GO, the company is borrowing a few pages out of Pokémon Go's playbook, with players finding virtual avatars of athletes, who spawn based on an algorithm, in real world environments. Players can take selfies with the AR athletes, access their latest stats, and gain intel on where the athlete can be found.
The company notes that where the game will stand apart from Pokémon Go and traditional fantasy sports is in nuances of gameplay. Rather than follow a daily or season-long format, ePlay wants the game to be continuous. For instance, when players unlock an athlete, they will earn points when that player takes the field, even if the app is not open. Also, trading players will only be available for advanced levels.
"ePlay's GO game will change fantasy sports forever and with Apple's ARKit we are going to blow people's minds. GO, a free game the whole family can play, introduces athletes to fans, new and old, and helps create a deeper relationship between fan and athlete," says Trevor Doerksen, CEO of ePlay and CEO and Founder of Mobovivo, in a statement.
ePlay will be a free app monetized through advertisement and in-app purchases upon launch. The company plans to launch leagues later this year.
In an email to Next Reality, Doerksen explained that the company has built an athlete spawning engine and location database that determines which athletes will be available in the player's vicinity. Real-life factors, such as athlete's travel schedule, performance, and social media activity, can impact spawning. He disclosed that the company is using ARKit for several features, including environment detection.
We want users to meet AR athletes in their neighborhood, at school, the office and the stadium. Pokemon Go monsters can fly, some NBA players can too, but we want shoes and cleats to be on the ground in the ePlay game - not in between floors, standing inside a chair, or on a table. We want the visualization of the athletes to as mind-blowing as possible, ARKit and Apple's great iPhone install base accelerating AR technology rapidly starting next month and through the Fall helps us do that.
Most aspects of the game, including the approach to navigation, visualization, and 3D, have been under development since November 2016. The company is currently reviewing the app with media, sports teams, athletes, broadcasters, and other industry professionals to get the final details – down to the height of basketball players and the length of socks on baseball players – correct.
Doerksen notes that ePlay is placing a high priority on the visualization of the athletes. They are adding smiles, winks, eyes that follow the user, and other subtle facial gestures to the 3D models so that users feel like they are actually meeting them in person.
"We want users to become life-long fans of athletes. We recognize that with sports like NFL and NHL helmets can prevent the athletes from establishing relationships with their fans," said Doerksen.
ePlay is no stranger to the sports business, building second-screen apps for various leagues and entertainment properties. Mobovivo, a subsidiary of ePlay, created the game engine that will feed statistics, video, social media, and other data to the ePlay GO app.