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One Big Game: UK Game Studios Tackle 24-Hour Football Match for SpecialEffect

Building on the rip-roaring success of 2021’s Xbox Game Studios derby which saw Rare face off against Playground Games, 2023 is super-sizing the soccer-based shenanigans in the name of SpecialEffect! This year, 24 teams from across UK game development studios will descend upon St. George’s Park in the heart of England on Wednesday, April 26, and play around-the-clock football to raise money for charity. 

This ambitious event has grown in size significantly since the heady days of 2020, when the first footballing face-off was a FIFA match between Rare and Playground. That graduated into a real-life football match in 2021, and has now evolved into a multi-studio, many-hour effort, with all proceeds going to gaming charity SpecialEffect. 

We know what you’re thinking: how does this work? How tired will their legs get? Who will score the worldies this year? Will it be available for your viewing entertainment? Well, don’t worry: we’ve got all the crucial information for you right here. 

From 6pm UTC on Wednesday, April 26, two of the 24 teams will kick the game off. All 24 teams taking part – including squads from Rare, Playground, EA and Sumo, to name a few – will be assigned a team colour: red or blue. Each team’s stint on the pitch will last the full 90 minutes, with all teams representing either the red or blue side. Every goal scored by each team will contribute to an epic battle between red and blue, with the final whistle – and scoreline – being settled at 6pm UTC on Thursday, April 27. 

You don’t have to take our word that it’s happening, though – you’ll be able to tune into the match in all its glory live on Xbox’s Twitch channel. It’s set to be a feel-good, goal-packed, football-focused bonanza of an event, with a multitude of special guests – and no doubt a few surprises too. Gav Murphy will be reprising his role as lead commentator and will be joined by a few other familiar faces for commentary duties, so watch this space for more information on the pitch-side line-up. 

We’re genuinely thrilled to have had such incredible support from a multitude of studios across the UK, and we can’t wait for the teams to come together both on and off the pitch to raise money for such a brilliant cause. 

Rare Chief of Staff, Harriet Manson, said of the plans: “We’re really excited to be uniting keen footballers across the gaming industry for what promises to be an unforgettable 24 hours. Being able to bring teams together at St. George’s Park, the home of English football, will be a special moment for the industry to come together in aid of such a brilliant charity, SpecialEffect, who do such important work to bring the joy of gaming to people living with physical disabilities. This year, we’re particularly thrilled to be hosting the first ever women’s match under the One Big Game umbrella, welcoming to the pitch players from our Women of Xbox community and across the games industry. 

“Putting on an event of this stature wouldn’t have been possible without the commitment and enthusiasm of players, teams, commentators, and studios alike – we’re really grateful to all those who have had a hand in making our 24-hour, industry-wide One Big Game a reality.” 

SpecialEffect is a charity that focuses on helping people with physical disabilities to play video games. For many people, games are a vital form of recreation and games like Sea of Thieves and Forza Horizon 5  have a particular role to play in connecting gamers with additional needs. SpecialEffect uses innovative technology to make gaming accessible to all. Solutions are tailored to each individual, taking into account their physical limitations and creating custom input devices, from modified controllers to eye control gadgets, to let them play with their friends and family. 

As Team Xbox, we couldn’t be prouder to support SpecialEffect’s mission to level the playing field for all gamers with disabilities. Make sure you tune in on Wednesday, April 26 for fun, fundraising, and a healthy dose of competition between the 24 participating studios. Rivalries will be born, heroes will be made, and friendships will be forged on the immaculate plastic turf of the Sir Alf Ramsey pitch at St. George’s Park. We can’t wait! 

For more information about One Big Game, or if you’re a studio who’d love to participate, please contact the crew at [email protected]. And of course, if you’d like to donate to the cause, head on over to the official JustGiving page to show your support and cheer on your chosen team!