The annual Toy Fair is coming up this weekend in New York City, but Hasbro has an early announcement today: its new Marvel Avengers: Infinity War Hero Vision Iron Man AR Experience. Yes, that’s the full name of the toy. Yes, it’s very long.
The Iron Man likeness comes from the toy’s included mask and gauntlet (the hand piece). The “AR experience” is provided by a phone and companion Android / iOS app. Kids are basically wearing a VR headset on their faces with a phone strapped in. But instead of an immersive VR world, the app takes advantage of the phone’s camera and creates an AR overlay of enemies and bases around players. Kids can create their own levels by putting included AR markers around the room. The app looks for these markers and uses them as indicators of where to place enemy bases. The goal is to take down all enemies and, ultimately, Thanos. Kids target enemies by raising their hand (and thereby the gauntlet) and pointing it at whatever they want to destroy.
You’ll notice that the gauntlet has stickers with unique codes on it. Hasbro tells me this is the key to unlocking the game and that because the gauntlet is 3D, it can’t be ripped off with codes printed from the internet. The markers I mentioned earlier, however, can be printed off the internet, and Hasbro says it’ll make them available in case kids lose them.
Most recent phones can run the app, so long as they’re running Android 5 and higher or iOS 6 and higher. The app doesn’t require ARKit or Project Tango, it’s more akin to Snapchat’s style of AR where items are placed around the room. Users can adjust the mask’s tightness and also the focus for each eye.
Hasbro says there should be “several hours” of gameplay, although it also notes that moving the markers around the room can change the game, even after kids beat it. There are 10 levels to work through with mandatory breaks built in. So after 10 minutes of play, or after kids reach level three, they have to take the phone out of the mask to customize their armor.
The company tells me these breaks and the fact that this called an AR experience, not a VR one, is intentional. They recognize that parents might want to interact with their kids while they’re playing and don’t want them staring at a screen for hours. The app also doesn’t require any Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection, so no user data is collected. Still, I’m not sure parents will be excited to fork their phone over to their kids or want to buy them their own device. Hasbro says the mask can be used alone for role-playing, but that doesn’t seem realistic.
I enjoyed testing the game, though, and I’m sure kids will want to play as Iron Man. Its success will ultimately come down to whether parents feel comfortable letting their kids play with a phone.
The whole package will be released this spring for $49.99. The company says it doesn’t plan to sell additional levels, but users can buy physical infinity stones to change their powers.