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Google Launches ARCore, Teases ‘Ghostbusters’ Augmented Reality Game

Google officially announced the launch of its ARCore mobile augmented reality (AR) platform ahead of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Friday. Some of the first partners to take advantage of the technology include Snapchat and Sony Pictures, which is set to release a “Ghostbusters”-themed AR game.

Variety was first to report about the impending launch of ARCore at Mobile World Congress Thursday.

ARCore allows developers to build apps that can place digital objects on top of a phone’s camera view, and then have them behave like real-world objects. Sony Pictures is going to use this for a “Ghostbusters World” AR game — think Pokemon Go, but set in the world of the “Ghostbusters” franchise, complete with the ability to battle and capture different kinds of ghosts from the movies, comic books and more.

“‘Ghostbusters’ is the perfect brand and best content to utilize AR technology,” said Sony Pictures Entertainment executive VP Jamie Stevens in a statement. The game is being developed in partnership between Sony Pictures, Columbia Pictures subsidiary Ghost Corps and game publisher FourThirtyThree Inc.

“Ghostbusters World” won’t be available at launch for ARCore phones, but is set to be released soon, according to Google. The game will also come to iOS devices this year.

Snapchat has long used AR for some of its filters, but is using ARCore to build more immersive experiences, starting with a special world lens built in partnership with the FC Barcelona. This lens will include a kind of portal that Snapchat users can walk into to enter an AR recreation of the soccer club’s hometown stadium.

ARCore will be available on 100 million phones as the update rolls out, including Google’s own Pixel phones, Samsung’s Galaxy S8, S8+, Note8, S7 and S7 edge, LGE’s V30 and V30+, ASUS’s Zenfone AR and OnePlus’s OnePlus 5. The company also announced new partnerships with Sony, Huawei, Xiaomi and other manufacturers Friday to bring ARCore to additional devices in the near future.

Google’s push for mobile AR is in many ways similar to Apple’s efforts, which included the launch of a mobile AR technology dubbed ARKit for iPhones and iPads last fall. Both companies are betting on mobile AR as a stepping stone to reach large numbers of consumers before AR headsets are ready for mass market adoption.

Update: 10:08am: This post was updated with additional information on “Ghostbusters World.”

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