Star Wars AR could have been a new Pokemon GO if it wasn’t a marketing ploy

Force Friday, the day where the range of toys for the new Star Wars film The Last Jedi come out, has been set for September 1. 

But if that isn’t exciting enough for you, Disney has released an augmented reality game to go alongside. A game that could have been as good as Pokemon Go... but just isn't, and all for the sake of driving people to buy Disney goods.

Find the Force is an augmented reality game where you find and collect augmented reality versions of characters from the franchise. If you think that all sounds a little Pokemon Go-y, well, we wouldn’t disagree with you. 

For a demonstration of how the game will work, check out the video from Disney below:

What could have been...

The key issues is this: unlike Pokemon, the characters are only collectable by scanning images in-store, meaning it feels like a way of making sure that Disney stores have good footfall, rather than a game in the true sense of the word.

Which really is a shame. Given the huge popularity of the Star Wars universe, and the proven success of Pokemon Go, a true Star Wars AR game surely would have been massive. We’d have played it. 

It’s not even as if Disney can’t make a good Star Wars game. The App Store and Google Play store are full to bursting with highly rated, massively popular games from a galaxy far far away. So it’s strange that this foray into AR is so designed by a marketing department desperate to tempt people to buy Disney wares.

The displays - that you have to scan in order to get the AR character to pop up - will be available in 20,000 stores, and the app will generate different characters on each day of the Force Friday weekend, meaning that there are 15 characters in total to collect. 

OK, the difficulty in scaling this up to a worldwide game would have been bordering on phenomenal, and Disney doesn't have the framework Niantic did when it created Pokemon Go, but come on... this is a company with enough resource to make it happen.

Even from a marketing point of view, this would have been brilliant to whet the appetites of possible film-goers, and the stores could still have been the focal point for key parts of the game.

In demonstrations shown to The Verge, the app included fan favorite characters like Admiral Ackbar and Chewbacca, as well as new characters like the Execution Stormtrooper and a member of Supreme Leader Snoke’s Praetorian Guard.

If you want to get involved, download the Star Wars app from the App Store or Google Play, then follow the instructions for Find the Force. In advance of Force Friday, you can scan the image above to collect your first characters, a trio of Porgs; the furry little inhabitants of the planet Ahch-To in The Last Jedi.

And Disney, if you’re reading this, please make an actual AR game... we would play it until our screens broke and our thumbs fell off.

All images credit: Disney

Andrew London

Andrew London is a writer at Velocity Partners. Prior to Velocity Partners, he was a staff writer at Future plc.