- Google showcased a new "Ghostbusters World" game powered by augmented reality (AR) at its booth at the Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona, Spain, according to TechCrunch. The AR game lets players chase and capture virtual ghosts in their real surroundings through a smartphone camera, à la Pokemon Go.
- The game, created with Sony Pictures and studio FourThirtyThree Inc., will become available for download on Android and iOS later this year, though no specific dates were announced. At the conference, Google used the game to showcase the public release of its ARCore AR toolkit for mobile developers to bring virtual objects into the real world via smartphone.
- The game creators will make more announcements about "Ghostbusters World" at San Francisco's Game Developers Conference in March, per TechCrunch.
Though "Ghostbusters" doesn't have the same kind of cult following of Pokemon ahead of its AR game release, "Ghostbusters World" could still likely draw some consumers to its interactive game with a dash of nostalgia and a nod to the ghost franchise's films, TV shows, comic books and video games. A teaser video of the game highlights how AR technology adds to the mobile experience by integrating with players' real-world surroundings through their smartphone camera.
Sony is putting some marketing muscle behind the game by tapping Ghost Corps, a subsidiary of Columbia Pictures Industries, to focus on expanding the broader "Ghostbusters" brand with live-action feature films, animated motion pictures, TV, merchandise and other entertainment products like the new AR game.
Sony is among a growing list of studios creating AR gaming tie-ins to popular TV shows and movies. Other examples include AMC's "The Walking Dead" and Warner Bros. Interactive's "Harry Potter: Wizards Unite" game. It remains to be seen whether "Ghostbusters World" will help to revive the 1980s film franchise that was re-booted in 2016 with an all-female cast. The re-boot reportedly lost $70 million at the box office, dashing any hope of a sequel, per the Hollywood Reporter, so the new AR game is likely an attempt to spark some interest in the ghost-hunting franchise.
While the International Data Corporation estimates that total spending on AR and VR will jump from $11.4 billion in 2017 to about $215 billion by 2021, retailers have been somewhat slow to embrace the technology until it shows demonstrable results, as developing the tech is costly and time intensive for most developers, an issue that developer kits like Google's ARCore and Apple's ARKit aim to ease.