Arcade to attend SXSW with UK Trade Mission

We are very excited to announce that Arcade will be returning to SXSW in 2023. Having debuted at the event in 2022 with our GPT3-driven interactive episodic series, Alone Together, we are heading back this year as part of the prestigious UK Trade Mission with the Department for Business and Trade.

As well as demo-ing some of our latest work, we will be part of the roundtable discussion, “How Creative Tech Deepens Place-Based Experience” on March 12 at UK House, the home for the best of British at SXSW.

Find out more about the Trade Mission and see what’s on at UK House hier.

You will also find the team at Niantic‘s SXSW HQ showcasing, amongst other things, our Lightship-driven game, Bazaar, designed to create new reasons for communities to engage with local bricks-and-mortar retail.

Bazaar was developed in partnership with Niantic, in response to their ‘Revitalising the High Street’ challenge as part of Digital Catapult’s recent Futurescope programme.

You can read more about Bazaar hier, but if you’re headed to Austin and want to see it in action (or possibly even collect some drops and claim a prize or two) then let us know!

The team will be in town from March 10-14, and hope to see as many of you there as we can at UK House, Niantic or just out and about at SXSW.

Livvy Hinkin and Jon Meggitt presenting Bazaar at Digital Catapult


Bazaar demonstrator launched at Digital Catapult

The Arcade team was out in force at Digital Catapult last week, showcasing Bazaar at the culmination of Niantic’s wonderful Futurescope programme to over a hundred representatives from across the UK tech and innovation sectors.

Having been selected to partner with Niantic on the ‘Revitalising the High Street’ challenge, we had spent the past few months furiously innovating, putting the new Lightship ARDK to work in the creation of a new type of experience designed to give shoppers a new reason to return to local bricks-and-mortar retail environments.

The result was a prototype that we were very proud to show off to the assembled audience. The film below was played on stage, in which Arcade Co-Founders Jon Meggitt and Alex Book introduced the Bazaar concept and explained its potential impact.

Jon was joined on stage by Client Services Director Livvy Hinkin, who introduced Bazaar’s imagined storyworld in which there is more to High Streets than meets the eye.

In our game, they are special, important places, connected by an ancient magical network. But the magic has started to seep out into the world, and it is up to us to find and return the ‘drops’ to the shops that need their power. Find enough, and reunite them with the shops they came from, and the owners will show their gratitude in the form of free goods, discounts and other rewards.

Livvy Hinkin and Jon Meggitt take the stage at Digital Catapult


As part of the demonstrator we ran a test week, in which we set up controlled Bazaar testbeds across three high streets, including the recruitment of ten testers and three real world ‘drop shops’ in each location, tasked with putting Bazaar through its paces.

Livvy also took the audiences through the headlines from our research. The feedback was very encouraging, with hundreds of drops collected including the limited edition ‘timed’ drops that had testers racing to get there first. Interest in the full version, should it be developed and launched, was universal. But the most important metric was undoubtedly the impact it could have on people’s propensity to increase engagement with their local high streets, with 91% of testers reporting that they would be more likely to visit as a result of Bazaar.

You can read more about Bazaar in Digital Catapult’s comprehensive post hier.


But whatever the future holds for Bazaar, our involvement in the Niantic Futurescope programme was one of the most valuable and rewarding experiences we have had to date.

The chance to partner with Niantic, the shining light at the forefront of the ‘real world metaverse’ (to use the phrase they coined), was everything we hoped it would be and we cannot thank them enough for their support, encouragement and enthusiasm at every step of the journey.

One of our biggest learnings is that Niantic, through the Lightship platform, is set to drive the mass scale integration of AR into our everyday lives. We at Arcade are committed to being a part of that journey, and we cannot wait to where it takes us.


Why ‘The Metaverse’ risks dragging down the very thing it stands for

As reality bites for Meta, what is the risk for the rest of us seemingly caught up – whether we like it or not – in ‘The Metaverse’?

“You’re doing metaverse stuff aren’t you?”

This is a question I get from friends and family on a fairly regular basis.

The answer is always, “well, sort of”, and then I try to explain that the word represents different things to different people, that no-one really knows what it means, that it’s all quite confusing, but that ultimately, whether it has a label or not, the kinds of three-dimensional digital experiences that we create are all about being exciting, effective, playful and as utterly brilliant as we can make them.

But by then they’ve stopped listening because it’s not simple, memorable and short. Bloody metaverse.


There’s no denying that the popularisation of the term ‘metaverse’ has been a big driver of interest in digital immersive experiences over the past 12 months.

Even those of us that have remained staunchly cynical about the word (like us at Arcade) have benefited from the surge of interest in the immersive space. This trend was arguably already happening, triggered principally by the pandemic, but the m-word and its billionaire supporter(s) unquestionably gave us all another boost of acceleration.

The flip side of that same coin, though, is that when it is increasingly associated with negative news stories – plummeting share prices, people losing their jobs, as is the case right now – then we have to expect the hype we have seen amongst partners, clients and the general public to turn, justifiably, to concern.

Reality bites for Meta, its staff and shareholders, but that doesn't mean the immersive revolution is over

“So is the Metaverse over then?” might well be the response to these latest headlines. And this raises the possibility that the really good, solid gains our sector has made over the past 12-18 months, as more and more of society has seen for themselves the tangible benefits of immersive technologies, could disappear in a puff of metaversal smoke.


But three-dimensional digital experiences are here to stay.

AR and VR applications in entertainment, arts & culture, retail, marketing, training, healthcare – frankly, pretty much everywhere – are proving their worth as new and effective ways of engaging audiences.

The technologies we use have matured beyond measure since Arcade started back in 2017, and can today deliver the kind of robust, reliable and persistent experiences we could only dream of.

Examples of Arcade’s work, demonstrating how far digital immersive experiences have come

Irrespective of what we call it, it’s an exciting time to be at the centre of this space. As a strategist I have a fundamental belief in the power of language, but in this case it makes no sense to be reliant on a word. The things being created are too good, too important, too impactful to be made or broken by a name.

The m-word has burned brightly. Like all big fires it draws people towards it. Some perhaps got a bit too close and are suffering as a result. And just maybe the fire is starting to die down – or even going out completely.

But please just remember: a name is just a name, and not the thing itself. What we and others in our industry do is wild and precise, thrilling and practical, persistent and ephemeral, and all the more exciting for its mind-boggling variety and resistance to any singular definition. Any attempt to pin it down or wrap it all up in one convenient little box is perhaps always destined to fail. And maybe that’s for the best.

Whatever happens to the word itself, we and our peers in the immersive industry are not the metaverse. We don’t need a word to define everything we do. We’re bigger than that. We’re better than that.

Alex Book is Co-founder and Chief Strategy Office of Arcade.


Arcade selected to build experience for the real-world metaverse with Niantic

The Arcade team is over the moon to announce that we are one of three immersive studios selected to build new experiences for the real-world metaverse by Niantic en Digital Catapult.

Having been shortlisted several months ago, we poured all of our creative and technical know-how into a concept we were incredibly proud of, and pitched to the Niantic and Digital Catapult teams at the end of August.

It was an anxious wait, as the prize was an incredible opportunity to partner with Niantic, the world’s leading voice in the consumer-facing augmented reality space, and use their new Lightship platform to push the boundaries of mobile immersive experience. The news came through a few weeks ago but we are finally able to reveal to the world that we won, and we couldn’t be happier!

We are in excellent company alongside No Ghost en Mobile Pie, each studio taking on a different challenge. No Ghost will be working with Studio Wayne McGregor to build a demonstrator that empowers self-expression through movement. Mobile Pie will be extending Cartoon Network’s highly successful mobile game ToonCup into the real world. And we will be working directly with Niantic to develop a digital experience designed to bring people back to the high street.

The prize was a chance to partner with Niantic, creators of Pokemon GO


Our concept’s working title is Bazaar. It is a digital game with real world rewards, centred around the UK’s thousands of high streets, with a goal of motivating millennial and Gen-Z audiences to re-engage with bricks-and-mortar retail environments.

Bazaar imagines a world in which there is more to High Streets than meets the eye. They are special, important places, connected by an ancient magical network. But the magic has started to seep out into the world, and it is up to us to find and return the ‘drops’ to the shops that need their power. Find enough, and reunite them with the shops they came from, and the owners will show their gratitude in the form of free goods, discounts and other rewards.

High Streets are connected by an ancient magical network - will you find and return the drops that have seeped out into the world?

The first step for all three studios commissioned by this Digital Catapult accelerator is to produce a ‘demonstrator’ – a non-public app that allows test audiences to experience the core gameplay elements of our respective concepts. These will land in early 2023 and could, if everything goes well, pave the way for further phases of development.

But whatever awaits for Bazaar, the next few months ought to be pretty special. Watch this space – and your local high street – for more news soon!

Read the full press release hier, and get in touch with the team if you want to learn more about the real-world metaverse.