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EA Sports expands its 'Virtual Playbook' to soccer broadcasts


When the EA Sports "Virtual Playbook" -- an augmented reality technology that allows sports analysts to run somewhat creepy simulations in their TV studios with life-sized virtual players from EA Sports games -- made its debut in September 2008 on ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown show, EA Sports hype man Peter Moore heralded it as a "paradigm shift in sports broadcast analysis." He then assured readers of his blog that Virtual Playbook would be "some day" applied to "a number of other sports, including soccer (of course)."

While the technology has failed to replace the good ol' talking (human) heads that continue to dominate sports broadcast analysis today, its use has expanded beyond football to include basketball (as pictured), with Virtual Playbook featured in 2009 and 2010 NBA Playoffs coverage (though integration this year would seem in doubt -- unless they use Jam characters). Today, Moore's promise has been fulfilled, with EA announcing that the technology will soon be available to soccer broadcasters.

Virtual Playbook will of course use FIFA assets -- orchestrated through (expensive-sounding) "advanced virtual studio and camera tracking systems" provided by German broadcasting company Orad -- that would seem to further EA Sports branding in "global markets" and solidify the publisher's stranglehold on virtual sports, blurring the line between what's real and what's in the game.

[Image source: Inside EA]

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