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Hundreds of Drones Create “Dystopian” Advertisement in the Sky

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On April 17, 1,500 drones took flight over Shanghai, assembling in a huge aerial dance and arranging into shapes of cartoon princesses. Part of the event featured a giant scannable QR code in the sky, something which prompted some major discussion online.

The scene — declared as “dystopian” by some after a viral tweet spread images of it across the world — was a marketing stunt, celebrating the one year anniversary of the mobile game Princess Connect! Re:Dive in China.

The event was organized by Bilibili, a leading entertainment platform whose user base tends to skew toward fans of anime and gaming, and also the distributor of the Japanese game in mainland China.

Originally developed by the Japanese company Cygames, Princess Connect! Re:Dive was launched in China in April 2020. The game had 6.5 million pre-registrations and topped the list of most-downloaded iOS games at the time of its launch. Its success is another sign of the growing popularity of Japanese ACG (Anime, Comics, Games) culture in China.

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At one point, the drones came together to form a massive QR code in the sky. Fans could instantly download the game’s one-year-anniversary edition by scanning the giant floating code with their phones.

The creative installation isn’t new for Bilibili — last year, the company plastered a huge QR code across their office building without explanation. The eye-catching gesture worked, as curious passersby scanned the code and downloaded the game.

Watching hundreds of drones assemble an advertising call-to-action in the sky, it becomes clear that the future is now, and it is terrifying.

All images courtesy of Bilibili

Feifan Li
    Feifan is a junior majoring in humanities at NYU Shanghai. He is now an editorial intern at RADII.