Phone, stadium, camera


Dutch Eredivisie football club AFC Ajax recently introduced a new stadium-wide virtual penalty shootout, with thousands of fans able to ‘take a penalty’ at Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam.

The club worked with Piing, which specialises in making games for crowds. Piing Penalty Shootout allows for an unlimited number of players to simultaneously take a virtual penalty in real time.

Over 4,000 fans participated in the Piing Penalty Shootout at a recent Ajax game against NEC Nijmegen, with over 5,000 virtual balls fired at goal. Winning players and teams were then announced on the big screens around the 55,885-capacity stadium.

Game players used their mobile phones and aimed their penalties with use of the touchscreen. Personalisation aspects included being able to choose a name to appear on stadium screens when signing up, with the winner’s names celebrated across the arena.

“Piing’s mission is to make the world more fun, and bringing shared moments of joy to stadium-sized crowds is the way we do it,” Piing chief executive Gareth Langley tells Fan XP.

“Piing wants to show the world that you can engage stadium crowds in entirely new, digital, ways with benefits for the fans, clubs and sponsors. And the games can actually involve fans who are not at the stadium, as our technology can enable people to play from home, allowing the club and the partner to reach fans across the globe.”

Adaptable ideas

A key factor of Piing’s technology is inclusivity, meaning games can be rolled out to clubs and teams for all fans to participate if they want to. There is also the obvious element of entertainment, which can be seen when the games are utilised within a football stadium.

“The penalty shootout is a concept that all football fans understand so there is zero learning curve,” explains Langley.

“The ‘wow’ factor of our Penalty Shootout game is the moment thousands of balls fly at the goal and hit the back of the net, miss the goal or batter the goalkeeper. It looks like complete chaos, but each player gets their own individual result on their phone, showing exactly where their ball went and if they scored. Counterintuitively, simple is much harder to do than complex!”

Aside from its latest partnership with Ajax, Piing has been entertaining crowds at a number of events across Europe. The company worked with the recent Rugby League World Cup 2021 (which was postponed until last year due to complexities surrounding the pandemic) to produce a pre-match Piing Buggy Race game for all 61 men’s, women’s and wheelchair matches across England.

Basketball fans were also invited to enjoy a Piing Quiiz at the Wizink Center in Madrid in December, as part of a digital fan engagement strategy from basketball side, Movistar Estudiantes.

Furthermore, fan zones can also host such gaming activations. Piing was utilised at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham last year, the 2022 World Gymnastics Championships in Liverpool and the Euroleague Final Four basketball championship.

Piing also worked to bring activations to a 6,000-capacity fan park in Manchester during last year’s FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

From the spot

“Initiatives such as the Piing Penalty Shootout not only improve the attendee’s experience; they also offer opportunities for clubs, enterprises and brands to gather data for future engagement and marketing efforts.

“Penalty Shootout, like all Piing games, is a great way for brands to really connect with fans in stadiums. Brands can give out prizes to the best players and give vouchers to everyone who takes part,” says Langley.

“In return, brands gather thousands of email addresses and can include data capture forms to understand more about individual players for future marketing campaigns.”

The Penalty Shootout concept can also be easily adopted for many other sports.

“We have plans for stadium-sized games of rugby, tennis, golf, hockey, American football and cricket, all for thousands of fans to play together,” adds Langley.

You can check out a video of the stunning Piing Penalty Shootout activation here. 

Image credit: Piing

This exclusive insight is part of “Fan XP” – a newsletter designed to keep you abreast of the latest innovations, strategies and more regarding fan experience across the globe. To sign up, please click here