Augmented play: how toy brands can embrace the success of Pokémon Go



Wikitude CEO Martin Herdina explains why augmented reality is essential for toy brands.

This year, the Pokémon franchise celebrates its 25th anniversary.

The Pokémon Go mobile game has largely contributed to the Japanese brand’s booming global success.

The innovative use of augmented reality has merged users’ imaginations with the IRL (in real life) experience, sending millions of people hunting digital Pokémon with their smartphones.

With $ 1 billion in player spending in 2020 and over 600 million unique installs, some might still say Pokémon Go is a one-of-a-kind phenomenon.

The current state of augmented reality technology proves that every brand of toys (regardless of size) can adapt and evolve the groundbreaking success of Pokémon Go.

Additionally, AR technology helps sustain toy products for the digital native generation.

What are the key lessons that will serve as a roadmap for AR toy brands?

The children (digital natives) are doing well

The majority of consumers of toy products today belong to the cohort of digital natives.

These kids are growing up with technology at their fingertips, often receiving legacy devices as soon as their parents upgrade to the latest models.

They seamlessly switch between the real and digital worlds, consuming an increasing amount of digital content and shaping their preferences based on what they discover on the web.

The new generation brings different playing habits.

Known for their affinity for tapping into the digital realm to help move around the real world (hey, Alexa!), Modern children anticipate that physical toys have digital components.

Technology allows kids to bring their toys to life, take play beyond the living room, and share with friends.

Pokémon Go has successfully combined technology, community, and physical toys into a universe that users can access anywhere, anytime.

The whole family is on board

The global pandemic has accelerated the adoption of technology by all family members, helping parents see screen time in a whole new light.

Changing the status of the weekend treat to the vital means of connecting with friends, classmates and family, screen time is now used to bond over mutual play.

Pokémon Go provided a stage for users years before the pandemic.

Bringing together physical and digital play, AR gaming has taken people out of their homes, making fun accessible to everyone, regardless of gender or age.

Increased game

Pokémon Go has proven that technology can increase the gaming experience at large.

AR play brought digital characters to life – just as children’s imaginations turn any toy into an imaginary playmate.

What is valuable for toy brands, augmented reality is truly universal and could be adapted for every category of toys (from vehicles to collectibles to board games).

The expansive narratives and digital elements added to physical toys not only bring bold ideas to life.

New gaming experiences generate high gaming value, keeping players of all ages coming back for more.

New opportunity

While Pokémon Go pioneered augmented reality gaming in 2016, AR technology has undergone a big change.

What was once considered too technical for a toy company can now be seamlessly integrated into a product cycle without disrupting teams and budgets.

AR allows toy makers to unlock new types of experiences.

The game can start with a physical toy and end in a digital world where children keep their playtime moments and share them with their friends.

Augmented toys increase business opportunities and open up new marketing channels to sell virtual goods, increase engagement and play time.

Augmented reality is proving to be a timely solution for toy brands embarking on a journey to add innovation to their products.

Adopting AR now doesn’t just mean getting a tool to sustain your toy brand’s offering for new generations.

It also means following in the footsteps of giant Pokémon Go when your audience and technology are ready to embrace change.


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