Controlling armies with a wave of the hand used to be the exclusive domain of emperors and warlords. But thanks to the inventiveness of Infinite Machines founder John Boucard and the creative genius of Stan Lee, now anyone can use their meathooks to conduct a massive superhero battle on-line.
Lee’s property incubation shop POW! Entertainment has teamed up with IM’s tech specialists to introduce Power Patrol, a new game system that lets players store character information and stats on a special encrypted ring and then transfer that data onto the web. Kids can then either face off against other players’ characters in real-time, one-on-one battles or participate in a more immersive community quest to control cyberspace.
Once they’ve decided whether they want to play as a superhero or supervillain, kids buy the corresponding ring and then log on to a restricted website (www.power-patrol.com) by waving the bauble in front of any computer. Once there, they create an avatar, go on missions and solve puzzles to earn points and strengthen their character. The chips in the rings are designed to talk to each other, so kids will also be able to unlock new powers, games, points and missions simply by interacting with other Power Patrol members they know.
But the rings might eventually communicate with more than just computers. IM’s patented Footnote technology can be embedded into almost any physical object, so the potential’s there for controlling things like TV sets, DVD players and cell phones. ‘It’s an entirely new form of entertainment like nothing I’ve ever seen before,’ says Lee. ‘It has no borders. People can play wherever they go.’
POW! plans to integrate characters from several properties that are in development as DTVs, graphic novels and TV/mobile content into the games and missions. And Power Patrol members could potentially use their rings to access extra content on future DVD releases from POW!
Down the road, ring-wearers might even be able to wirelessly receive and activate secret missives from Lee himself that could be digitally embedded in media platforms and venues including trading cards, websites, movie theaters, posters, fast-food outlets and DVDs. In fact, Boucard says this is just the tip of a whole world of marketing and promotional opportunities that can laser-target the kid demo. For example, if a Power Patrol member walked into a cereal aisle and waved his ring in front of a promotional poster or display, they could win extra points or gadgets for their character. Likewise, a premium inside the cereal box could be activated by the ring to unlock a collection of bonus material on-line.
Rather than lease the technology to a toy company, a strategy IM pursued with Hasbro for the ION Educational Gaming System coming out in October, these new partners are keeping the distribution in-house for now. The rings will be offered exclusively on-line at first for US$19.99, though Boucard is in negotiations with various retailers. For the launch in Q4, 10,000 slightly more up-scale special-edition units will be available for US$29.99 each, with a distinctive color scheme and an autographed mini-comic from Lee. To help spread the word, Power Patrol members who recruit new teammates are offered 1,000 bonus points.
Infinite Machines plans to expand the line next year to include several different types of jewelry that will target different age groups, embedding the technology in a watch that might appeal to adults or teens, for example, to deliver tailored content.