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Sony’s Smurfs Hololens Game May Have Done More For Augmented Reality Adoption Than Nintendo’s Pokémon Go

Sony Pictures’ 2017 release of Smurfs: The Lost Village was accompanied by the release of an Augmented Reality game on Microsoft’s Hololens headset. The game, developed in partnership with Microsoft, media firm OMD, VR production house, Unit9 and advertising content firm, AOL, the Smurfs game may have done more for Augmented Reality adoption than the – less interactive – Pokemon Go mobile game could have accomplished. 

Credit: Sony

Nintendo’s Pokemon Go, may be one of the first real mass-use cases for extended reality technology, however the game offered minimal interactivity. In fact, many players report to playing Pokemon Go with the augmented reality feature turned off. What the Smurfs game offered users – mostly kids, and nostalgic grownups – was a world overlayed onto real surfaces in the players’ environments. The game also enabled players to control character movements, and interact with the world as if it were real. More than what the Pokemon Go offering gave users, in terms of experience.

The Smurf’s augmented reality game was part of a marketing push, for the 2017 release of the latest installment in the tech giant’s entertainment wing’s attempt to resurrect, and update the little blue creatures’ franchise. The children’s app became more than a marketing vehicle however, and morphed into a proof-of-concept, in terms of how enterprises can harness the power of mixed reality to develop interactive marketing tools.

Sony Pictures Entertainment’s head of digital marketing, Elias Plishner, commented, “Smurfs: The Lost Village takes moviegoers into the world of the Smurfs, and the HoloLens allows us to go one better: to bring our world and the Smurfs’ world together in a mixed-reality setting. It’s huge fun for the moviegoer that perfectly whets the appetite for the movie.”

OMD’s executive director, Stuart Morris, chimed in saying,“In the world of movie marketing, immersive storytelling is key for enhancing those moments when a consumer is engaging with one of our movie titles. By virtually immersing consumers within the world of Smurfs: The Lost Village, the AOL HoloLens experience is the perfect example of delivering key storytelling moments in a way no one has seen before. OMD’s close partnership with Sony Pictures Animation ensures that together, we are at the forefront of exciting, story-telling opportunities in a rapidly shifting technological landscape.”

Though the Smurfs app was targeted at children, the game was – at the time – only available on the Hololens, which was  – at the time – in preproduction, and would set the user back $3,000. Not an amount of money that is easy to come by for the average kid. Which is likely why it failed to make waves. A shame, considering that it was an incredible example of where the world would go – in terms of use of the technology. 

Microsoft’s Hololens has since become a leading Mixed Reality headset product, and has been implemented in training programs by Mercedes Benz, and other firms, in classrooms, and in business for a number of different uses. Hololens headsets have not seen much consumer adoption however, due to a hefty price point – they’ll cost a buyer anything from $3,000-$5,000 dollars. Augmented reality is one of the technologies of the future that economists predict will have a huge impact on how we do things in the next few years. Perhaps once the technology becomes more affordable, we’ll see wider consumer use. 

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