How to Play Disney's New 'Batuu Bounty Hunters' Game

October 20, 2022, 6:24 PM · With Batuu Bounty Hunters, Disney is trying to use its MagicBand+ technology to bring a new type of theme park attraction experience to life.

Set in the Stars Wars: Galaxy's Edge land at Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort, Batuu Bounty Hunters is Disney’s most notable use of MagicBand+ as an attraction enhancement. Disneyland invited me and a handful of other reporters to test MagicBand+ play Batuu Bounty Hunters in advance of MagicBand+'s official debut at the resort on October 26.

"MagicBand+ has allowed us finally to deliver against that [bounty hunter] archetype that we've always been wanting to bring to life [in Galaxy's Edge] but didn't really have a way to do so before," Asa Kalama, Vice President Executive - Creative & Interactive Experiences for Walt Disney Imagineering, said to us. "Black Spire Outpost on Batuu is is the natural home for folks like a bounty guild, right?"

Asa provided us a detailed explanation of the game, so I will let him do the talking here, in this edited transcript of his remarks:

"Coincidental to all of this our good friends at Lucasfilm put out a television show [The Mandalorian] that just so happened to feature a tracking fob for the first time, so you got to see how bounty hunters actually get to locate their charge. So when the MagicBand+ team came and started to talk a little bit about the new capabilities of the bands - obviously the haptics and the lighted ring - it was sort of a lovely chocolate-and-peanut butter sort of moment, right? It was a piece of hardware that delivered on the promise of that tracking fob that we've now seen on screen.

"And what we like about this particular approach is it's inherently analog. It's something that feels almost toy-like, which is very much in the spirit of what we're trying to do in Galaxy's Edge. We want to encourage you to truly take on that persona, to feel like you're a character. It sets you immediately in the story."

"In terms of actually receiving your assignment, this was another opportunity for us to expand the world of characters that we think live in Black Spire Outpost, and so it is behind a sort of speakeasy-style window located at our speeder garage in Black Spire Outpost that you will encounter Raga Baua. And she is our local guild master. She's come to a sort of tenuous relationship with Oga, who runs Oga's Cantina as you all know, to allow her and the guild to do business on the planet. They sort of have a tacit relationship and agreement that they won't get in each other's way. And obviously, Oga is taking advantage of the fact that the bounty guild is helping clean things up just a little bit and make her job a little bit easier.

"Your experience begins at what in a former life had been a speeder refueling station. Where you would have gone and hooked up your speeder bike to get it all charged up, the guild has hacked it and repurposed it now into what is essentially their job board. All it takes is a quick tap [with your MagicBand+]. You'll be assigned a bounty and then dispatched out into the land using your thermal viewer, which you will find inside of your Play Disney Parks app."

Batuu Bounty Hunters
Getting your assignment on Batuu Bounty Hunters

"At the time we started this project, I had a three-year-old daughter, and I was always keeping in the back of my mind making sure how is this an experience [that] is truly going to work for everybody. You don't have to be a hardcore Star Wars fan. You don't have to be steeped in the lore. You don't have to have a ton of experience with gaming or even digital products at all. So how can we pair this with a mechanic that is fundamentally understandable and something that we all know? I wouldn't say all but many of us did in preschool [play] the simple game of warmer/colder, which pairs very nicely with the band.

"So the way that our tracking fob works is as intuitive as you might expect. As soon as you tap in to receive your bounty, you follow the green lights on your band that blink in rapid succession, getting faster and faster, as you move toward your target. But if you go in the opposite direction, it goes red to let you know that you're going the wrong way.

"A very simple mechanic, but one when intermixed with a natural environment where you're moving around, there's people flowing through, all of a sudden starts to feel like you're really in the story. It has that ease and approachability but also just enough complexity to make it challenging, even for an adult."

"Once you arrive at what you believe is the designated location of your bounty, you'll know you're in the right spot because [the band] will be blinking purple.

"All you have to do then is tap the band to your device. If you're in the correct location, it will pop up that thermal scanner you'll use to do a really cool sort of AR view through that door, revealing the character on the other side. You tap the screen to report the location of that bounty to the guild, and then you return back to Raga Baua at that speakeasy door, where you place your hand in the scanner and get paid out your galactic credits.

"If you are an avid hunter, there are a lot of bounties that are out there, so it's really up to you to decide how many you want to choose to go after."

Thanks, Asa. Now for an embarrassing confession from me. I had meant to bring you a video of me playing Batuu Bounty Hunters, but the fact that you do not see one embedded here should clue you in that I failed in that basic production task.

I knew that playing BBH (I'm just abbreviating it from here on) would require both hands, one wearing the MagicBand+ and the other to hold my phone for use as the "thermal scanner." So I decided to wear a head-mounted camera to record my experience. However, I foolishly did not tilt my head down at the correct angle to capture video of the band and my phone, so all the action was out of frame, making the video worthless. It's been a long time since I made such a rookie mistake, and I apologize.

Anyway, BBH was fun. It's a cute game that I could see being attractive especially to younger kids. But is it worth spending $35+ for a MagicBand+ to play? That's up to you.

Asa said that an average game takes about 10 minutes, and I finished mine in about 15. To be fair, I was messing around, walking all across Black Spire Outpost trying to show off the band glowing red as well as green, to get more video. Alas.

But I did get to enjoy the moment when my band first flashed red and I felt the haptics vibrating on my wrist, because at that moment I realized that I was playing a Star Wars character who had a literal opportunity to say out loud, "I have a bad feeling about this."

When playing BBH, you have one hour from the time you to tap in and accept a bounty to find it and report its position, and then another hour to come back and claim your credits. Reporting the bounty requires a data connection on your phone and the updated Play Disney Parks app, and there are points in the Black Spire Outpost were Disney's wifi connection is a bit dodgy, so you might need to fall back on your cell data to complete a game.

Playing BBH isn't the only use of a MagicBand+ wristband, of course. I detailed more uses for the devices in my previous post, How to Use MagicBand+ at the Disneyland Resort.

Regardless whether people come play BBH or not, widespread use of MagicBand+ would speed greatly the flow of guests through the resort's park gates and Lightning Lane entrances, as tapping takes less time on average than people trying to awaken their phone, call up the Disneyland app, and scan their screens.

Disneyland officials also confirmed that Disneyland would continue to take photos of entering guests to associate them with their MagicBand+, rather than using the finger scans employed at Walt Disney World. After your first park entry with a MagicBand+, tapping in at the front gate will bring up the photo of the person associated with that band on the cast member's screen, allowing them to confirm that the person using the band is the right one.

By bringing MagicBand+ to Disneyland, Disney is reaffirming its commitment to this product, even as more fans are using smart watches and other devices that can replicate most, if not all, of the MagicBand technology. If that's not the right move, well, I guess Disney can always put out a bounty on the executives responsible for that decision.

After all, it's now training a whole guild of bounty hunters to find them. /s

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Replies (9)

October 20, 2022 at 8:00 PM

That price point is more or less in line with Universal's interactive wands. Throw in the lighting enhancements during shows and I could see the value here.

October 21, 2022 at 7:14 AM

I agree James that this is Disney’s attempt to replicate the WWoHP wands in Galaxy’s Edge. Technically, Savi’s is supposed to be that analog (now with prices up 25% to $249), but once you’ve built that Lightsaber, there’s nothing for you to do with it on Batuu except pose for pictures around the land. BBH gives you that interactivity, but instead of using something inside the Star Wars universe to perform the interactions (or the already existing Datapad extension of MDE), Disney is forcing guests to buy MB+.

There is absolutely no reason Disney could not execute BBH solely through the Datapad/MDE. WDI is able to execute similar interactions on the Galactic Starcruiser (minus the haptic “hot/cold” feedback), and it’s telling to me that guests spending $5k for a voyage on the Halcyon that includes an excursion to Batuu are only given complementary standard MBs.

BBH is the lone justifiable reason for guests to purchase MB+, and it’s clear Disney is doing everything they can to coerce guests into thinking they need to plunk $35-$50 on these extremely limited and flawed devices.

October 21, 2022 at 10:16 AM

The big difference, and I apologize for being a broken record on this, between buying an interactive wand in Hogsmeade and an interactive MagicBand+ in Galaxy's Edge is that the wand is appealing once you leave the park. Universal plussed an item that was *already* desirable. While Disney is charging a huge sum for a lightsaber, it's an *incredible* lightsaber that comes with a cool experience.

To Russell's point, they've essentially reinvented a lo-fi smart watch and then asked guests to spend $50 on it.

October 21, 2022 at 10:58 AM

So now we get the extra added privilege of giving Disney money to look at our phones while at their theme parks? Yeah ok……………Add yet another up-charged “experience” to that oh so important Disney vacation.

Disney exec 1: We’re getting tons of complaints that we’re causing people to spend most of their day at our parks looking at their phones…

Bob CHEAPek: …Clearly we have an issue here…Your telling me we haven’t figured out a way con some of these people into paying us to look at their phones? Everybody’s fired!!

When do park guest’s start getting charged for napkins and paper straws as a “premium” feature to add on to their $57 cheeseburger slider (singular) and four pack of tater tots?

This is far past the point of being ridiculous.

October 21, 2022 at 4:48 PM

So, basically it’s a high(ish) tech version of hot and cold?

If I were an AP holder, I suspect I’d play it to kill time. I can’t imagine any infrequent guests spending time on this.

October 22, 2022 at 12:27 AM

Yeah, more than $1000 a day to bring your family to Disney or you're going to waste your time playing hotter colder? Have fun.

October 22, 2022 at 1:41 PM

I just did BBH at Hollywood Studios for the first time a few weekends ago. Just a tip to avoid what we did. My wife purchased the magicband plus online through our hotel reservation (apparently she got a discount on it by using this method). Anyways, she bought it for our son who was turning 8 and under his name, so the band could only be registered in his name in the MyDisney app. Since he is 8, he doesn't have a Disney account and so we couldn't link his band to the BBH game in the Play Disney app. Then found out the magicband plus can not be transferred to another person, ever. We did find out that he could still scan his band to get a bounty and then scan his band at the point where we found the bounty, then also go back to scan and collect his credits. There is just no way to track or see any progress through the app. As far as the BBH game went, we did two bounties in about 15 minutes, with the only difficulty seeing the color on the band in the afternoon Florida sun.

October 22, 2022 at 6:35 PM

Interesting point about the daylight. The MB+ extras really seem designed for nighttime use.

But I suppose that calling the device "MagicBand After Dark" might have been a bit too, uh, suggestive for Disney? :^)

October 24, 2022 at 10:09 AM

FWIW...There are rumors that the WWoHP land in Epic Universe (and expansion to Diagon Alley in USF) will provide additional interactive wand locations and perhaps some new applications of the technology (or maybe more advanced devices that can do more/better stuff). However, from our experience last week, it's pretty clear that selling the devices is an easy task, but helping guests use them and maintaining the interactive elements is proving more difficult. Universal has been aware of some of the flawed interactive displays since the lands debuted (mostly due to glare and poor camera positioning/lack of shade during certain parts of the day), yet has done little to fix those issues. Also the number of team members in the lands to help guests trigger the effects has dwindled to almost ZERO. From the time Hogsmeade debuted in 2014 through well after the debut of Diagon Alley in 2017, there was typically a team member posted at every single interactive location (or at least one for each group of elements), but when we were in the parks earlier this month, there wasn't a single wand helper in Hogsmeade and just 2 roaming in Diagon Alley (one at the popular rain/umbrella effect and another in Knockturn, which are the easiest effects to get to work given the darkness).

I kind of get the same vibe here with Magic Band+ with the marketing to get guests to buy the devices and initial support to help guests use them, but within a year a two, guests will be on their own and effects and usefulness of MB+ will eventually become worthless over a standard MB.

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