Lenovo has partnered with Disney Interactive for Lucasfilm’s Star Wars augmented reality gaming.
Star Wars: Jedi Challenges launches Nov. 3 for $199 and comes with the new Lenovo Mirage AR headset, which works with any Android or iOS smartphone, along with a replica Luke Skywalker lightsaber and tracking beacon.
The system uses inside-out tracking cameras located inside the headset to pick up the light from the tracking beacon. This provides a fixed point and leverages the light from the lightsaber to understand where the player is moving so the glowing saber stays calibrated atop the physical object.
“Star Wars has always been based in AR from the first movie 40 years ago with the HoloChess,” said Matt Bereda, vice president of global consumer marketing at Lenovo. “You’ve seen holograms of Princess Leia and Obi Wan Kenobi in the films, so it’s very natural to bring a lightsaber duel or to play HoloChess or a strategic combat game within this experience.”
Jedi Battles launches with three games, including the lightsaber duel that features classic villains from the franchise like Darth Vader, Kylo Ren and Darth Maul. The lightsaber features haptics, so players will feel when the sabers touch in battle.
The experience includes the HoloChess game that Obi Wan and Luke played aboard the Millennium Falcon in Episode IV, and a strategic combat game based on the Battle of Hoth and other ground-force battles from the franchise.
“You can defend your towers with different characters and mount an offensive against your foe—and you can build your characters up over time,” Bereda said.
Bereda anticipates that the app will open new levels of monetization opportunities for Lenovo. Characters and even entire games can be added over time.
“While we’re not integrating content from The Last Jedi at launch, because this is an application, we can send updates to increase the number of experiences or add new content,” said Bereda. “If there’s a bad guy who shows up in the next movie, they could make an appearance in this game. There’s an opportunity to extend this app to be even richer over time.”
The phone rests across the player’s eyebrows with the screen facing down on the ground, where it projects down and then mirrors the images out in front of the player. Spectators can see the AR action through the outside of the lens, and the player can see his or her surroundings in the room during the physical combat.
Lenovo’s new gaming platform was part of Disney’s fan-focused D23 event in July, and the company demoed the AR gameplay at German consumer electronics show Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin. The product also received a marketing push as part of Disney’s Force Friday II event in September.
“Right now we’re working through planning details for the ABC properties to leverage and integrate Jedi Battles into the Star Wars shows,” said Bereda, detailing US holiday exclusives in the works with launch partner Best Buy. “There are a number of marketing opportunities that span into traditional media and on the digital side.”
Lenovo is targeting core Star Wars fans at launch and leveraging excitement around AR and the lightsaber. The company will work with influencers and hardcore Star Wars fans to build that buzz as the campaign expands to the more casual Star Wars fan environment.
Lenovo is also planning a Best Buy nationwide push for Jedi Battles on Oct 28 and 29. Since the full app won’t be available for download until Nov. 3, a hands-on demo version will be featured.
Even as VR hardware prices come down, Bereda sees a great selling point with Jedi Battles beyond the Star Wars brand.
“The key with this is that the set-up is minimal,” Bereda said. “I’m not putting up sensors around the room like HTC, or programming a PC. I download the app, put my phone in the headset, turn on the beacon and lightsaber and play.”