Meet cricket's superstars in AR
Cricket has an image problem. Or rather, it had one until the summer of 2021. For years before then, the common perception of the English summer sport was that it was boring, slow, and for middle-class white men. The Hundred set out to change all that.
Developed by the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB), The Hundred is a new fast-paced form of the game, designed to invite everyone to fall in love with cricket at its intense, breath-taking best.
To achieve its goals, innovation had to be at the absolute core of the experience – and that’s where ARCADE came in. By the end of the second season we had created opportunities for fans to get up close to the heroes of The Hundred in every way imaginable: from the Sky Sports and The Hundred apps for iOS and Android to mobile browser-based WebAR; from livings rooms and gardens, to collectable cards, to the stadiums themselves; from miniature, to full scale and even to giant super size!
Get closer to the action
Wouldn’t it be great if you could get closer to the players than ever before?
This was the idea behind ‘Meet the Players’ – a world-first AR experience produced in partnership with Sky Sports and ECB that let fans everywhere bring the heroes from The Hundred into their living rooms, bedrooms, gardens, parks or anywhere else they wanted.
The avatars were produced by Dimension Studios using cutting-edge motion capture technology. Over 25 players including Moeen Ali, Sophie Ecclestone, Jos Buttler, Heather Knight and Sky pundit Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff performed their skills dressed in mocap suits – some more willingly than others!
The avatars were initially incorporated into an interactive immersive experience within the Sky Sports and The Hundred apps. Fans could place them on tabletops in miniature or bring them to life at full size, with the ability to watch each of them perform their skills including batting, bowling and wicket-keeping, and even view it all in super slow motion to really see the detail of their world-class techniques.
Each player also arrived in AR by walking out of a virtual version of the LED archway that is used at every live match - except in Meet the Players, each player's home ground is visible through the arch. With a simple tap, fans can be transported through the archway into a 360 view of that stadium, and get a feel for what it would be like to be out in the middle.
The app experiences were created with Unity, and saw thousands of fans downloading their favourite players throughout the month-long tournament.
A lighter version of the experience was also launched via 8th Wall WebAR, allowing users to experience ten of the players without needing to download the app first.
When the team at Arcade approached the ECB with an idea to incorporate avatar figures into The Hundred app we were really excited, and were delighted with the end result.
Going bigger - and smaller
After an exciting and successful first season, the AR experience became even bigger - quite literally - for the second year. Fans at the games were able to watch the cricket with a huge, super-size version of their favourite players looming over the stands, cheering along or posing for the camera.
Having gone bigger we also made the miniature experience even smaller, putting the stars into the hands of Cricket Attax card collectors. Eight special cards - one for each team - could be used to trigger a WebAR experience that transformed the surface of the card into a cricket pitch, with the star showing off their skills in the palm of the fan's hand.
It's fantastic to see Unity being used by Arcade to build their industry-first AR experience, using motion capture on a scale never before seen in sport.