Inspired Entertainment are the company responsible for a number of top Virtual Sports games that are popular on sites such as Betway and bet365 Sport and now they are set to expand their repertoire of games with the announcement of a new deal with NFL Alumni in a forthcoming Virtual American Football game.
The company made its name with games such as Virtual Horse Racing, Virtual Greyhounds and Virtual Football and more recently it has released a number of new games, such as Virtual Basketball, Virtual Darts and Virtual Cricket.
This new form of game utilises motion capture technology using real-life footage to illustrate how a Virtual Sport is unfolding. While in Virtual Basketball, the team names and players used are not based on real life (as is the case in early versions of Inspired Games), Virtual Cricket and Darts did use either Real Team names (international teams in Virtual Cricket) and in Virtual Darts, real life players made up from former darts professionals now active on the senior tour.
The company has also just released a new American Football Virtual Sports game into casinos (you can play this now at bet365 Sport) and we will be bringing you our review of this game next week.
This other American Football game will be different to the one in casinos now. For a start, the fact that the company have an agreement with NFL Alumni, means that the new game will feature real players that have retired from the game, in the same way that Virtual Darts uses real life players from the professional game that are now active on the seniors tour.
The details of the deal
As part of the deal Inspired Entertainment will be able to use the “name, brand,images, persona and likenesses” of the myriad of former NFL stars that are registered with the NFL Alumni organisation.
Inspired are licensed to use their game worldwide in Virtual Football games. The NFL Alumni membership does not extend solely to players, a number of former coaches and staff members are also part of the group, although it is not yet known if they will feature in the new game, which has been called “Legends of Football”.
Inspired have revealed that it plans to use visual effects as well as motion capture technology in order to bring the players participating in Legends of Football to life. This will likely take the same format as the motion capture used to bring Virtual Basketball, Cricket and Darts to life.
The current version of Virtual American Football that is available to play at bet365 right now, does not have any agreement with the current NFL or it’s player association, the NFLPA, in order to use likenesses names or similar within the game. Team names are named after famous American cities, such as San Francisco or Philadelphia, but the nickname of the team that goes with the cities is not included. San Francisco is San Francisco, not the San Francisco 49ers, for example.
The NFL Alumni has also announced that some of the proceeds raised from the Legends of Football game will be diverted back to the organisation to help with their charitable causes.
Phil Villipiano, the All Pro and 2019 Gridiron Greats Hall of Fame Inductee, who used to play for the Oakland Raiders, stated:
“I know it is only virtual football, but it would be sure to see the outcome of that play differently.”
Villipiano is referring to the Immaculate Reception play where Oakland Raiders star Franco Harris scooped up a pass from Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw and returned it for a touchdown during the 1972 Divisional Playoff game, despite many people’s contention that the ball had hit the floor and should have resulted in an incomplete pass ruling.
“Like Franco, I’m excited that proceeds from the Legends of Football virtual game will go to the benefit of my fellow NFL Alumni to help them in areas like healthcare.”
Part of the NFL Alumni’s goal is to support former NFL players and coaches once they retire from the game through a diverse number of different assistance such as helping with healthcare bills, helping players start their own business or to cover the costs of any legal services their alum may require.
Who are we likely to see in the Legends of Football game?
Pretty much any NFL player that has become part of the NFL Alumni organisation once they have retired could be featured in the game. This could include a number of famous players from throughout the ages such as:
- Jim Brown
- Walter Payton
- Peyton Manning
- John Elway
- Dan Marino
- Franco Harris
- LaDainan Tomlinson
- Jerome Bettis
- Mike Singletary
- Jerry Rice
- Joe Namath
- Kurt Warner
- Barry Sanders
- Deon Sanders
- Terry Bradshaw and many more.
How will the new game be organised?
The actual set up of Legends of Football is yet to be finalised, but I think there are two potential ways that Inspired could go with the game. Firstly, they could simply port over their existing Virtual American Football game, but transpose into that players from the NFL Alumni and perhaps film specific footage for the game.
The other and perhaps more exciting alternative would be to make up a Virtual Pro Bowl game which would be between the best players from the AFC against the best from the NFC. This would allow the game to pit players who traditionally played on different teams both onto the same team and in opposition to each other for the game.
While this second option is perhaps more appealing and offers a very different experience to the original game, my gut feeling is that Inspired may well simply remake their current Virtual American Football game and transpose into it players from the NFL Alumni and then add the specially recorded motion captured video into the game.
When will Legends of Football be released?
As yet there is no official release date for the Legends of Football game and it is not known how far along Inspired are with the project, however when they have released news information in the past along these lines, the finished product has not been too distant in following, often coming just a few months after the news breaks.
That means hopefully by the end of the year, we may have our first glimpse of Legends of Football.