If it can work for Pokémon, then why not for the world of Obi-Wan?
An augmented-reality experience as real-world physical hunt is being rolled out next month by another global entertainment franchise, with the next Star Wars film, “The Last Jedi,” on the near horizon.
Last summer, as the AR scavenger hunt from Pikachu’s universe exploded — spurring a $7.5 billion market-value surge for maker Nintendo — The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs asked: “Now, what’s to keep the Comcasts and Apples and Amazons and Disneys of the world from making our naturally 3-D world the exciting new area of augmented exploration on a scale as massive as Pokémon Go?”
The short answer from Disney, one year later: Apparently nothing. Because the Mouse House is unveiling its promotional stunt of a free “treasure hunt” on a rather massive scale, the company announced early Thursday.
The campaign’s basics, by the numbers: As the first wave of “Last Jedi” merchandise lands Sept. 1 (a.k.a. “Force Friday II”), the “Find the Force” AR game — involving about 20,000 stores in 30 countries — will let participants hunt down 15 Star Wars characters, two are which are new. (Is that the Admiral Ackbar you’re looking for?)
To play, fans will download the Star Wars smartphone app, head to one of a fleet of participating stores (full list here) and uncover potentially talking virtual characters by pointing the phone at the “Find the Force” placard. The app encourages social-media sharing of your character experiences, with the big carrot urging that you share being a sweepstakes contest that closes Sept. 3.
“We are excited that augmented reality will allow fans to experience the universe in a whole new way,” Kathleen Kennedy, president of Disney-owned Lucasfilm, said in a statement Thursday.
The original “Star Wars”, of course, birthed the entire modern era of movie tie-in merchandise four decades ago, so it’s only apt that this franchise is aiming to push the AR promotional game to a new level.
Plus, after the “Force Awakens” merchandising success of adorable new droid BB-8, Disney/Lucasfilm is now poised to capitalize on the introduction of furry new “Last Jedi” characters the Porgs — wet-eyed space puffins from Planet Ahch-To that appear Imagineered to be an ideal stocking stuffer.
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” opens Dec. 15, and some stores will participate in the game till then.