Zug, Switzerland, 4 June 2007 - Infront Sports & Media has today announced the launch of "Empire of Sports" - a huge online sports gaming platform. This is a major strategic development for the company. It will make Infront the first sports marketing group to develop and build an exciting parallel universe of sport, a virtual world where the scope for growth is as unlimited as the imagination of its players.
Empire of Sports is the world's first massive multi-player online role-playing game platform (MMORPG) built entirely around sport. It is designed to allow millions of players around the world to simultaneously exist in an online universe, where their alter egos socially interact, train, compete, attend events and acquire the goods and services they need to build a parallel sporting existence.
An innovative approach to the booming gaming industry
Gaming is one of the fastest growing of all entertainment sectors, outstripping feature films in terms of revenue generation. The gaming sector shows particular strong growth with on-line gaming - where players interact with others via the Internet - in particular in Europe and in Asia.
To capitalise on this trend, Infront has formed a joint-venture with F4, a leading video game development company based in Paris, known for its expertise for online worlds and state-of-the-art graphics. Between them, they have created a gaming platform, where players can train and compete, form teams and leagues, even take coaching lessons. Within this environment, players are also able to interact with brands and their products and services to enrich their virtual life.
"This is part of a new strategic direction for our company" said Infront's President & CEO Philippe Blatter. "The special skills that Infront applies in the real world, deploying sports marketing as a medium for reaching consumers, are totally applicable to this virtual world - it's the perfect preparation and a logical step. While the world we have created may be virtual, the user experience and the opportunities for brands will be very real."
"Gaming today is a serious part of the entertainment industry," said Alexis Galley, CEO of F4. "With the increasing sophistication of games, the demographics have shifted - it is reaching a very large number of people with an age above 30 and now is a means of entertainment equivalent to TV, movies and other media. The concept being developed with Infront hits the sweet spot between the power of gaming and the significance of sports in a social environment."
Dr. Christian Müller, who is the managing director of the project, added: "This is the first-ever virtual online multi-sports world with role-playing elements. There are single sport online games but no one has seamlessly integrated multiple games around the entire sports lifestyle. The user becomes a 3D avatar, capable of developing his or her virtual body, skills and capabilities through sport and training all-the-while socialising within the Empire of Sports community. In Empire of Sports everyone can become a real sports star."
The high quality multiple player sports games available at launch of Empire of Sports will be basketball, skiing, tennis and a series of fitness / exercise games. Other major games will be announced as the platform develops. The controls will be easily accessible even to non-gamers and all games can be played by millions of players / teams at the same time. The target user base is in the millions after one year, but the platform is highly scalable and can host tens of millions of users.
"The primary value proposition for brands is the integration of their services or products in the world as virtual items used by the characters 'like in real life' - other possibilities include sponsoring of virtual events and advertisements. It is of utmost importance to us that the integrated products and services enhance the gaming experience for the consumer, and through that they become the most powerful marketing tools available today", said Philippe Blatter.
A new 24/7 communication channel
Empire of Sports is not only a revolutionary new communication and business development opportunity for commercial partners, but offers also great value to sports rights holders world wide. The platform represents a unique opportunity for federations, clubs and athletes to strengthen the relationship to their primary target groups, even in markets they do not have immediate access to. Through Empire of Sports, rights holders are able to present their properties 24/7 throughout the year, all around the world. The platform offers many tailor made integration models, including virtual representation of a federation or a club or fan clubs, virtual leagues and competitions (from grassroots to professional level), athlete showcases, "web 3D" integration of rights holder's website(s) and various other options to promote content and/or exploit media rights.
More than a game: rewarding healthy lifestyles and physical fitness
Empire of Sport also includes a number of unique features that will motivate users to take part in real-world physical activities which can then be rewarded for within the virtual world.
"We want this world to stimulate interest in sport and to actually encourage users to regularly get away from the computer staying tuned with real sports in their everyday lives. The link to real sports and the promotion of healthy lifestyle is an area we are looking at very seriously. These features set the platform apart in the market and also reflect the feedback we received from brands and federations", Philippe Blatter added.
The Swiss-based Infront / F4 joint-venture company is supported by a dedicated team of experienced professionals from the gaming and sports industry, offering highest level of client servicing and user support.
For further information, please contact:
Manager, Communication & PR
Infront Sports & Media AG
Tel. +41-41-723 15 15
Fax +41-41-723 15 16