A new way to experience the NFL from a gaming perspective is coming, as the league's first officially licensed game for virtual reality platforms will be available this fall.
NFL PRO ERA is being developed by StatusPRO and is scheduled to debut on Meta Quest and PlayStation VR. The game is also licensed by the NFL Players Association, allowing for player names and likenesses to be used.
"When we think about this experience, you're finally immersing yourself as the professional athlete for the first time ever and seeing it in a way that you've never seen it," StatusPRO co-founder Troy Jones said. "It is the future, and we look at it as the new era of gaming and the next step in the way people will consume sports."
Jones, a former college quarterback at multiple schools, co-founded StatusPRO with former NFL wide receiver Andrew Hawkins. Their hope is that having former players running the company will add to the understanding and authenticity of the virtual reality experience.
Over the past two years, StatusPRO first developed virtual reality technology for NFL teams to use in their facilities, then moved to creating a game for the general public.
"The biggest difference is we are purely from the players' perspective, right," StatusPRO executive producer Jay Juneau said. "You're not a coach. You're not a GM. You're not the owner. You are an NFL player, and that's what we focused on."
The goal of the game, beyond entertainment value, is to help fans understand what it is actually like for quarterbacks at the line of scrimmage and what they see when they take a snap. Jones said the game will give players the chance to see if they could complete a pass they might have seen -- or criticized -- Lamar Jackson, Aaron Rodgers or Patrick Mahomes make on television.
"In the experience, you're able to play quarterback in an NFL game," Hawkins said. "You're able to make the decisions."
Juneau said there will be around 200 individual faces in the game but that the limitations of the technology will mean there will be some generic faces too. Players will have accurate body types, numbers and statistics, with ratings based on collected data to create as realistic an experience as possible.