Just how realistic are sports games these days? Good enough to fool people into thinking they’re watching the real thing and not a digital representation? In some cases, yes, apparently. Several YouTube channels have been streaming FIFA 23 matches while claiming they’re real games streamed illegally from the soccer World Cup.
Vietnamese news site VNExpress (via PC Gamer) notes that one reader was tricked into thinking a streamed video of EA’s game was a low-quality stream of a World Cup match. They found the channel by searching for Germany vs. Japan on Google.
“It wasn’t until I read the comments on the livestream and watched the player’s face close-up that I knew it was the image in the FIFA 23 game simulating the World Cup,” they said.
Posting videos taken from ‘new PES’ game eFootball and FIFA 23 to replicate real World Cup games appears popular—some add to the illusion by including YouTube’s ‘live’ red dot mark next to their descriptions. A Vietnamese channel called Minute90Kplus has loads of them, with some videos attracting over 200,000 views, though it appears most viewers leave as soon as they discover they’re watching a video game and not a real match.
Passing off game footage as the real thing happens often; the makers of combat sim Arma 3 recently had to ask players to stop creating and posting clips claiming to be from real wars. It’s harder to trick someone with a sports title, but if you knock the quality down to 240p and when the camera is at a high angle, it does look passably real, kind-of. The whole illusion falls apart when the picture moves close to the players, who look concerningly mannequin-like and dead-eyed for humans.
It’s not just Vietnamese channels carrying out this trick. English channel Football Live has 1.25 million people subscribed to its watch-along videos of fake matches. They also seem to show an ad every 5 seconds and often include links to very shady (non-digital) live sports streams and betting sites.
The videos likely violate YouTube’s policies on misleading titles and descriptions, but some do still show up in Google searches for free streamed sports events.