Key take outs from SXSW 2023

From gaming’s transmedia connections to humanity in the Metaverse and at phygital events. Here’s a few snippets from a packed show…

With more grandiose Metaverse projects largely receding behind recessionary anxieties, SXSW 2023 (Austin, March 10-19) saw entertainment experts and institutions including Epic Games, Lego and Coachella discuss engagement strategies with immediate wins… Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Josh D’Amaromay may also have wielded a real-looking lightsaber… but if we look past that (which is quite hard in reality), there were core debates centred on virtual native audiences’ preferences and practices – from gaming’s transmedia connections to humanity in the Metaverse and at phygital events. Here’s a few snippets from a packed show…


Gaming Goes Transmedia: Entertainment Crossovers

Naughty-Dog, The-Last-of-UsAs Gen Z and Alpha’s favourite pastime, gaming accounts for the lion’s share of revenue in the global entertainment sector – a cultural clout paving the way for savvy transmedia integrations.

HBO and Netflix are embracing adaptations, Sony Interactive is stepping up its social creator game, and music streamers are looking into building gaming-centric artist incubators.

Tomorrow’s most immersive story worlds will originate in gaming’s interactive landscapes. Take US giant Riot Games’ League of Legends, already the most-watched esports title in the world.




Humanity in the Metaverse

reddick mourningVirtual natives are coming of age in well-established games like Roblox, which are often their primary online social space.

Within these proto-metaverses, people connect through their own avatars.

Many speakers discussed how creating digital bodies as diverse and versatile as our physical ones will be key in fostering belonging in future brand engagement.





Phygital Events: Online Communities at IRL Celebrations

fortnite x cochellaIn her 2023 Emerging Tech Trend Report, American futurist Amy Webb revealed that revenue for live events and theme parks in 2022 outpaced pre-pandemic levels.

It prompted discussions from groups like Coachella about the value of engaging virtual natives and knitting together gigs and festivals with the online communities they nurture all year round.


Key take outs

Leverage Gaming’s Prosumer Communities

Social gaming platforms have given rise to bustling communities where people co-create their own interactive experiences. This crowdsourcing spirit makes gaming audiences a prime target for creative incubation. Take note of 2K Games and Soundcloud’s music discovery programmes, and use gaming’s multimedia needs as a platform to find, elevate and celebrate new talent.

Prioritise Accessibility Over Spectacle

If the metaverse isn’t designed to be inclusive to all (and is likely to be mothballed before we know it – keep an eye out for our next blog post on that), we will exclude those who might need it most. The unlimited possibilities of virtual creation are tempting, but don’t forget to keep people with cognitive and neurological needs front of mind.

Integrate Digital Identity & Physical Events

The friends, experiences and avatar outfits people are gathering online now matter as much to their sense of self as physical interactions. If you’re planning any live in-person events this year, add virtual companion spaces that include digital merch, broadcasts and social hangout zones to extend/expand the experience.

Alex Saxon
Managing / Digital Director