Hunt­ing for pros­per­ity in the vir­tual realm

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By HE WEI in Shang­hai hewei@chi­

The mas­sively pop­u­lar Poke­mon Go game might be banned in China, but Chi­nese tech firms have re­leased sim­i­lar aug­mented reality games that come with a big­ger catch — money.

Giv­ing red pack­ets con­tain­ing money is con­sid­ered an aus­pi­cious tra­di­tion dur­ing the Spring Fes­ti­val and the coun­try’s tech gi­ants have not he­si­tated to spend big to mar­ket them­selves to con­sumers this year.

In­stead of Pikachus or Bul­basaurs, users of Ali­pay — the e-wal­let de­vel­oped by e-commerce gi­ant Alibaba Group Hold­ings Ltd — can use the app to hunt for the Chi­nese char­ac­ter ( ) in the vir­tual world. Scan­ning the char­ac­ter gives users the chance to win one of five “lucky” cards. Those who man­age to col­lect all five cards by the eve of the Chi­nese New Year on Jan 27 will be el­i­gi­ble to get a share of the 200-mil­lion-yuan pot.

Al­ter­na­tively, players can also hide vir­tual red pack­ets by tak­ing a photo of their choice lo­ca­tion be­fore leav­ing hints for their friends to find them.

The ob­jec­tive of the game, said Ali­pay ex­ec­u­tive Guan Hua, is to in­voke the nos­tal­gia of child­hood games that in­volved find­ing hid­den ob­jects, as well as add some color to the fes­tiv­i­ties.

Alibaba’s ri­val Ten­cent Hold­ings Ltd re­leased a sim­i­lar game on WeChat where users who come within 100 me­ters of a clue marked on their map get to choose one of three vir­tual red pack­ets. Only one packet con­tains money. Ac­cord­ing to Ten­cent Vice Pres­i­dent Yin Yu, 300 mil­lion yuan is up for grabs in th­ese vir­tual en­velopes.

A host of brands have also teamed up with the tech gi­ants to en­gage cus­tomers. For ex­am­ple, more than 20 brands in­clud­ing Uniqlo, Coca Cola and Proc­ter and Gam­ble have teamed up with Alibaba’s fi­nan­cial arm Ant Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices Group to hide dig­i­tal en­velopes con­tain­ing a to­tal of 30 mil­lion yuan across their stores.

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