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

BAZAAR

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.

Arcade Shortlisted for Niantic Lightship AR Accelerator

Niantic Lightship

Arcade is very pleased to announce that we have been shortlisted as one of eight immersive studios invited to develop and pitch game-changing immersive experiences, in the hope of being offered a place on the Augmented Reality Accelerator run by Digital Catapult and powered by Niantic Lightship.

An open call by Digital Catapult and Niantic Labs – creator of some of the most famous AR experiences in the world, including Pokémon GO – was announced earlier this year, inviting creators from across the immersive sector in the UK to develop new ways of demonstrating Niantic’s vision of the ‘real world metaverse’, using the cutting edge features of their new platform, Lightship.

Of the three challenges on offer, we chose to apply for ‘Retail and the Future of the High Street’, a fascinating and complex opportunity to drive real change for one of the sectors that needs it the most.

A challenging six weeks lie ahead, in which we will hone and polish – and potentially tear apart – our concept before pitching to a panel from Digital Catapult and Niantic in late August. The prize on offer is the funding for a demonstrator experience, and the chance to collaborate with some of the leading players in the global AR landscape.

Wish us luck!

Concept art for Niantic Lightship

Digital Reality: Welcome to the new normal?

Girl Playing Wizards Unite

I’ve always had a bit of an issue with names like ‘augmented reality’, ‘virtual reality’, ‘immersive technology’ and the like. They sound exactly what they are: dreamed up by technology geeks, inspired by science fiction, designed to sound futuristic and literally unbelievable. The result is a lexicon that makes some salivate – you know who you are – but puts many others to sleep. Some in my industry will find this hard to believe, but this type of language, for some, is eye-rollingly dull, off-putting and maybe even a bit intimidating. “This isn’t for you” is the perceived message – in most cases the very opposite of what it is trying to achieve.

So I, for one, am delighted by recent developments where the tech is being relegated to its rightful place in the narrative – i.e. almost invisible. The tech industry often gets a bit carried away and forgets that the experience is king, not the technology.

Google to the fore

Google is leading the way, first with the introduction of its 3D search functionality. Without any big fanfare, it has added a ‘View in 3D’ option to its mobile search. No app download, an incredibly simple interface and within seconds you can be face to face with a giant panda, amongst many other animals (the range of 3D objects is due to expand dramatically). There is still an ‘AR’ tab, but it is a pleasantly understated presence. The result is an experience that makes it seem as if occupying the same physical space as a digital giant panda were the most normal thing in the world – which, as it turns out, it sort of is.

They followed up by announcing that AR functionality is being embedded directly into YouTube, so users can seamlessly engage with content they are watching, such as trying on cosmetics during a YouTube tutorial. Early screenshots show that the focus is on the experience – ‘AR’ is nowhere to be seen.

And Google’s good work is set to be compounded by the arrival of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, the latest ‘planet-scale’ offering from Niantic (by absolutely no coincidence at all, an ex-Google company). Niantic’s monster hit, Pokemon GO, is often cited as the game that introduced AR to the mainstream but, as anyone who’s played it knows, the AR elements are far from integral to the gameplay. Harry Potter appears to be different – AR-driven gaming is fundamental. But like the Google examples above, the important bit is the experience and how good it is, not how ‘AR’ it is.

THE RISE OF THE ‘DIGITAL REALITY’ TOOLKIT

A recent Deloitte report on immersive storytelling uses the phrase ‘digital reality’ to describe immersive experiences, as distinct from ‘physical reality’. I like it. It might only be a small nuance to some, but the world is already so familiar with the notion of ‘digital’ – and a sense of familiarity is exactly what the immersive tech industry needs from the audiences it seeks to engage.

It seems to me that we are gradually realising the truth: AR and other immersive tech are simply new creative tools that we can use to solve old creative challenges. Incredible, mind-blowing tools, but still just tools. Tools for digital reality. How very normal.

Google AR Panda
Hello, Panda
MAC Cosmetics Try On App
MAC Cosmetics 'Try On', coming this summer. Image: Google
Harry Potter Wizards Unite
Harry Potter: Wizards Unite by Niantic