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Comic-Con ramps up the digital factor with VR and 'Pokemon Go'

An attendee at Comic-Con in San Diego.
Harriet Taylor | CNBC
An attendee at Comic-Con in San Diego.

There's a lot of noise at Comic-Con.

Many of the estimated 130,000 fanboys and girls assembled at the annual comic book confab are decked out in elaborate home-made costumes (better known among the faithful as cosplay).

There are movie premieres, exclusive sneak peeks at upcoming films, panels with movie stars, and giant installations for different TV shows and films. All of these things compete for attention with a slew of games, toys and authentic costumes and props from movies and films.

A key way studios and brands are trying to break through the clutter is by using high-tech augmented reality and virtual reality experiences. The idea is that these immersive experiences are so different from what consumers have seen before that they will turn fans into evangelists for the brand.

For example, Warner Bros. has teamed up with augmented reality app Blippar to enable fans to view exclusive content tied to its shows and movies — just by pointing their phones at bags given away by the studio.

"Augmented reality is such a fun application. We decided we'd create these bags that come to life," said Lisa Gregorian, CMO for Warner Bros. TV. "We always want to come to Comic-Con and say, 'how do we deliver the best fan experience,' that's our number one goal. ... So we've created a fan experience on every single one of the bags."

Across from the San Diego convention center, Amazon is hosting a virtual reality experience about its show "The Man in the High Castle." After walking through a room decorated like a set from the movie, visitors can don a headset and feel like they're exploring that alternate reality world.

And USA Network's hit show "Mr. Robot" is using new exclusive virtual reality content to try to connect to fans, not just at Comic-Con but around the world. An exclusive 12-minute VR short is simulcasting for fans at Comic-Can and for any fans around the country who have a VR headset, even a Google cardboard.

Pokemon Go on Apple iPhones
Getty Images
Pokemon Go on Apple iPhones

Of course what would any Comic-Con be without a nod to the "Pokemon Go" frenzy. Thousands of people are trying to catch Pikachus as they wait in line and traverse the hallways, and congregate at the Pokestops that allow players to collect key items.

Nintendo, which distributes the augmented reality game, is hosting a big lounge to demonstrate its new console games. The game maker is looking to tap into the explosive popularity of the free mobile app to sell some physical games.

"This year in addition to 'Pokemon Go,' which has of course been a massive phenomenon, we also have new games for Nintendo 3DS — 'Pokemon Sun' and 'Pokemon Moon' coming out later this year," said Kit Ellis, Nintendo's senior manager of public relations and corporate affairs.

"It really continues that style of game play that so many people grew up with," he added.

Disclosure: USA Network is owned by NBCUniversal, the parent company of NBC and CNBC.