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The NBA Goes Virtual With Gym Class VR Partnership

Last Updated: July 5, 2023
The VR-enabled basketball platform Gym Class VR welcomes licensed NBA teams’ courts, logos, and apparel into its immersive digital experience.

On Thursday, virtual reality platform Gym Class announced a breakthrough deal with the NBA. Gym Class VR players can now tap into their favorite NBA teams via officially licensed courts, apparel, and accessories when they play virtual basketball games thanks to the new partnership.

“VR is a timeless technology because people will always want to experience amazing things together. With these NBA products in Gym Class, fans can finally feel what it’s like to step onto their favorite NBA court, to hear the crowd go wild after landing a big dunk or buzzer-beater on their friends, and do it all while decked out in their favorite team’s clothes and accessories,” Gym Class Co-founder and CPO Paul Katsen told Boardroom. “These are experiences only a small percentage of the world can have, but millions of people dream of.”

The company’s VR platform is accessible through Meta Quest devices; users will soon see a new NBA Bundle available featuring all 30 franchises this winter. An official news release states that fans who purchase an NBA Bundle starting at $19.99 can access team courts, two different sets of team-branded apparel, and team-branded basketballs.

“Our collaboration with Gym Class will provide our fans with a new way to express their NBA fandom and connect with each other,” Adrienne O’Keeffe, Head of Digital Consumer Products at the NBA, said in a statement. “We look forward to NBA fans fully immersing themselves through this innovative gaming experience.”

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Sealing the deal

Gym Class was founded in 2021, and the company officially brought its virtual reality-enabled basketball app to market in the fall of 2022. Gym Class has raised roughly $9 million in venture capital, including an $8 million seed round led by Andreessen Horowitz. The company has attracted investments from Y Combinator, Danny Green, Andre Iguodala, Lonzo Ball, and Kevin Durant and Rich Kleiman’s 35V. Gym Class VR game is currently ranked as the No. 1 most popular VR sports game and the No. 10 most popular game overall on Meta Quest.

“Growing up in the 90s in Chicago, I’d spent countless hours shooting hoops with friends, pretending we were on our favorite NBA team’s court,” Katsen said. “Now, with Gym Class, the NBA, and the Quest, these experiences become possible for anyone.”

Gym Class’ partnership with the NBA came after the association discovered and tested Gym Class VR when the company was in beta — this was before Gym Class raised its seed round and participated in the Y Combinator accelerator program.

“That kicked off exciting discussions around ways to bring NBA-licensed products to Gym Class,” he said. “We can’t wait to see how our global VR basketball community responds to this first set of licensed NBA products, and we hope to continue to expand this relationship with the NBA over the next few years.”

The company is full steam ahead with hopes of attracting a slew of new players. Katsen expects gamers to jump into Gym Class VR over All-Star Weekend 2023 in Utah to check out the game.

“During big basketball culture events, we tend to see hundreds of thousands of players hop onto Gym Class to relive and experience their favorite moments,” Katsen said. “After all, there aren’t a lot of other ways to instantly give yourself a 50+ inch vertical and throw alley-oops to other fans who might be thousands of miles away.”

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About The Author
Michelai Graham
Michelai Graham
Michelai Graham is Boardroom's resident tech and crypto reporter. Before joining 35V, she was a freelance reporter with bylines in AfroTech, HubSpot, The Plug, and Lifewire, to name a few. At Boardroom, Michelai covers Web3, NFTs, crypto, tech, and gaming. Off the clock, you can find her producing her crime podcast, The Point of No Return.