StatusPRO co-founders Andrew Hawkins (left) and Troy Jones
TECHNOLOGY GAMING & ESPORTS

NFL Takes on Virtual Reality Gaming with StatusPRO

The company co-founded by former football players Troy Jones and Andrew Hawkins will create the first NFL-licensed football game powered by virtual reality

On Wednesday, the NFL and StatusPRO announced a partnership to bring NFL-licensed, virtual reality-driven gaming to fans around the world. Terms of the deal were not disclosed as of this writing, and a release window for the upcoming game has not yet been revealed. 

StatusPRO is a sports tech and gaming company that uses real-time player data to create authentic extended reality experiences. The company was founded by former football players Troy Jones and Andrew “Hawk” Hawkins and backed by noteworthy investors that include Naomi Osaka, LeBron James, Maverick Carter, Drake, and Jimmy Iovine.

Headquartered in Miami, StatusPRO reports that half of its employees in the US are former athletes.

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“We are a company that wants to democratize what it is like to be an athlete. In XR and VR specifically here, we want to really immerse fans into the shoes of people they watch on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis and give them something they have never experienced,” Hawkins said in an interview. “As an athlete, being able to continue to bring those experiences to life is amazing. This is the first of many athletes from our company but as football players, you can imagine we want to bring the most authentic version of this to the masses. Being able to do that with the NFL as a partner, there is [nothing] much better than that.”

EA Sports has held exclusive NFL rights for simulation-style games for nearly two decades, allowing them to dominate the football video game world with the Madden franchise. EA renewed its partnership with the league in 2020, with the deal being worth $1.6 billion and extending until at least 2026, according to Sportico.

But the NFL’s gaming reach has expanded in new directions in recent years.

EA rival Take-Two Interactive — the company behind NBA 2K — was able to ink a deal with the NFL in 2020 to produce a non-simulation style football game. Because StatusPRO’s game is virtual reality-driven, it would similarly appear to avoid infringing on EA’s exclusive football simulation gaming deal with the league.

“Virtual reality gaming is rapidly expanding and our partnership with StatusPRO allows us to explore a new immersive version of NFL gaming with support of the two largest VR platforms within this emerging space,” said Joe Ruggiero, SVP, Consumer Products at the NFL, in an official release. “We are seeing a growing number of fans engaging with VR and we’re excited to launch the first-ever VR gaming title that complements our existing offerings in the market today.”

The NFL and StatusPRO will leverage StatusPRO’s athlete-led technology and work alongside their experienced team of developers to change sports gaming as fans get a first-person experience similar to their favorite football players.

As Troy Jones, StatusPRO’s Co-founder and CEO, said in an interview: “The exciting thing about this partnership being a milestone is that if you can tackle the NFL, get in business with them and show value to them you tend to see that bring credibility that we can execute on potential products and other sports.”

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