Avengers Super hereo AR App Game Mode Main Menu 01
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The Avengers movie, which arrives in theaters on May 4, is going to be big. It has almost enough super heroes to field a baseball team and is already garnering stellar reviews.
Now the franchize-tastic film has one of the more innovative marketing tie-ins we’ve seen in a while: A free augmented reality iPhone and Android app that gets better the more you, well, shop. Marvel and Walmart partnered up on the Super Hero AR which is both a game and in-store experience. The game, which lets you act as any one of six super heroes and fight enemies overlaid on top of your real world, starts with just one super-hero ready to play: Hawkeye. To play as the other, somewhat more powerful (and cool) heroes like The Hulk and Iron Man, you need to visit your local Walmart and point your smart phone at the “target image” QR Code on one of the many Avengers placards around the store.
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In another entertaining twist, you can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with your favorite Marvel/Avenger superhero—at least in in augmented reality. Placed throughout 3500 Walmart locations will be special hero placards. When you point your phone at one of them (as long as you already have the game installed) a life-size version of the hero will appear beside you -- on screen, that is. You can take a photo, save it or instantly share it to your Facebook friends.
Obviously the real objective here is merchandizing. Walmart stories will be carrying some 600 different movie tie-in products. When I asked a Marvel rep what he thought of the movie and this program, he said he attended the premiere and “[the movie] delivers on what we want to do and we want to sell a bunch of merchandize.”
You will be able to find Marvel The Avengers paraphernalia at other retail outlets, but the app program is exclusive to Walmart. The stories will also feature a T-Mobile promotion where in-store reps demonstrate the app on some of their latest Android smartphones, including the new HTC One.
Walmart and Marvel are, of course, not alone in their use of augmented reality apps to drive and/or boost sales. In recent months, we’ve seen Starbucks use it in its coffee shops and Guinness let you use it to decorate your pint in holiday themes.
Marvel is no stranger to augmented reality, either. It launched Marvel AR last month, an app that lets readers scan print comics to access hidden extras.
As for this latest Marvel AR App, it’s entertaining, though somewhat limited. The AR overlay is seamless -- I shot arrows at yellow spaceships flying around my office. Still, you can finish the first level in a few minutes (as I did) and then have nothing else to do except play that level again, or, as Walmart and Marvel hope, run to your nearest Walmart to get more levels (there are six superhero levels and one final) and awesome pics of you and your favorite super hero. You can see mine in the gallery.
And if you can’t get enough Avengers (perhaps you finished playing the game), Walmart and Marvel are also hosting something they’re calling a Twitter Party for the fans. It starts on April 26th at 2PM ET and uses the hashtag #AvengersWMT.
You can download the app right now from iTunes and Google Play (search for "Super Hero AR"). Let us know in the comments what you think and if this app makes you more likely to see the movie and to buy all that Avengers merchandise at Walmart.
This story originally published on Mashable here.