Watch Tampa Bay and Los Angeles duke it out in MLB’s first regular-season game in its “Virtual Ballpark”

In context: The recent AI craze has drowned out all the hubbub from the internet’s previous favorite fad topic – the metaverse – but it has not disappeared. Companies are still interested in placing their products and services in the a virtual space, and Major League Baseball is doing just that next week.

Major League Baseball will enter the metaverse next Wednesday when it debuts its first regular season game in its virtual stadium. The Tampa Bay Rays host the Los Angeles Angels on September 20. The league will broadcast the match-up as usual, with a simulcast occurring in virtual space.

It will be very much like watching someone play an MBL video game. The virtual 3D stadium looks like what you would expect but has futuristic features like giant floating Jumbotrons above the seats and in the parking lot. The live-game action is tracked by the same Sony Hawk-Eye cameras used for the MLB’s Statcast data and is translated to 3D avatars in the virtual realm. The live broadcast will also appear on the ball park’s Jumbotrons.

During breaks or if users get bored, the experience provides other activities. Spatial audio allows fans to hear and talk to other spectators or friends near them. There are trivia games and a scavenger hunt for NFT collectible cards. Users can also wander, explore, or go to the virtual parking lot for a tailgate party.

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Although it sounds perfect for a VR experience, there is currently no general support for stereoscopic 3D or VR headsets. For now, attending the game within the metaverse is best done on a laptop or desktop via a web browser. Using Safari on iOS or Chrome on Android is also viable if you must watch while on the go.

The action starts at 6:40 pm EDT on September 20. To attend, head to the MBL’s webpage and create an MBL profile, then go to the Virtual Ballpark website on game day. Virtual gates open at 6:30 pm, giving you about 10 minutes to create a custom avatar or find your friends before the first pitch. Liability waiver not required, but headphones or buds are strongly recommended.