Hunting for prosperity in the virtual realm

By He Wei in Shanghai | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-02-03 12:08

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 (f) 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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