USA Today Teams Up with 8th Wall to Launch AR Basketball Game for March Madness

Just as the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is set to start later this month, USA Today has decided to trot out an augmented reality mini-basketball game to promote its bracket competition.

And while USA Today is prolific publisher of AR news content through its own app, this time, the media outlet took an assist from 8th Wall’s web-based AR platform for this particular AR experience.

Couchketball, which was built on the 8th Wall Web platform, takes place in the camera view of your mobile web browser. It anchors a virtual half-court and basketball goal in your physical space. Players shoot basketballs at the goal with an upwards swipe of their touchscreens, competing in three timed levels of escalating difficulty. Each made basket also adds more time to the clock.

Images by Tommy Palladino/Next Reality

At the conclusion of the third level, players can capture their score and rank for bragging rights. And, because this is a promotional effort (sponsored by lawnmower maker Snapper), they’ll have an opportunity to jump right into the bracket challenge from the score screen.

In terms of gameplay, Couchketball is not as crisp as the NBA AR app, which is a native app as opposed to a web-based experience, but the competition aspect adds another layer of entertainment.

To play along, visit the Couchketball website via your mobile browser or scan the QR code below.

Image by USA Today/8th Wall

“The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments have produced some legendary games over the years, and at Snapper, we’re excited to be a part of the 2021 USA Today brackets,” said Harold Redman, senior vice president of Briggs & Stratton’s products group, in a statement. “As fans, we’ve played the brackets for years. As a partner, we can’t think of a better way to share our brand with other fans as well as our dealers and employees.”

If Apple, Google, Microsoft, Snapchat, and Facebook are the blue bloods and perennial powerhouses of the augmented reality industry, then USA Today and 8th Wall are the Cinderellas, the underdogs who defy conventional expectations and notch wins over their Goliathan competitors.

Images by Tommy Palladino/Next Reality

Over time, Cinderellas in the realm of basketball evolve into blue bloods, and these AR-powered organizations are on track to pull a similar feat in the immersive media game. Erik Murphy-Chutorian, CEO and founder of 8th Wall, is a member of the 2019 and 2020 NR30, while Ray Soto appeared in the 2019 NR30 alongside Murphy-Chutorian. Their profiles document their winning records to date.

Speaking of basketball, I believe I’ll return to Couchketball once the brackets are set, so I can confidently pick the University of Alabama Crimson Tide to roll over their own competition. Roll Tide!

Cover image via Alabama Basketball/Twitter