• Wikitude CEO Martin Herdina (c) Markus Gutmann
    Wikitude CEO Martin Herdina (c) Markus Gutmann
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Wikitude CEO Martin Herdina details why augmented reality is key for toy brands. 

This year the Pokémon franchise turns 25.

The Pokémon Go mobile game has significantly contributed to the booming worldwide success of the Japanese brand.

Innovative use of augmented reality has merged the users' imagination with IRL (in real life) experience, sending millions out to chase digital Pokémons with their smartphones.

With $1 billion in player spending in 2020 and more than 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 toy brand (regardless of size) can adapt and scale Pokémon Go's groundbreaking success.

What's more - AR technology helps to future-proof toy products for the generation of digital natives.

What are the key learnings that will serve toy brands as a roadmap to AR?

The (digital natives) kids are alright

The majority of toy product consumers nowadays belong to the digital natives' cohort.

These children grow up with technology at hand, often receiving legacy devices as soon as their parents upgrade to the latest models.

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

The new generation brings different play habits.

Known for their affinity to tap into the digital realm to help get around the real-world (hey, Alexa!), modern kids anticipate physical toys to have digital components.

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

Pokémon Go has successfully combined technology, community, and physical toys in one 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 to see the screen time in the new light.

Changing the status from the weekend treat to the vital mean of connection with friends, classmates, and family, screen time now serves to bond over mutual play.

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

Bridging physical and digital play, the AR game has brought people out of their homes, making fun accessible for everyone - regardless of gender or age.

Augmented play

Pokémon Go has proved that technology can augment the play experience in a broad sense.

The AR game has brought digital characters to life - just like kids' imagination transforms any toy into an imaginary play companion.

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

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

New play experiences generate high play value, making players of all ages come back for more.

New opportunity

While Pokémon Go pioneered augmented reality play in 2016, the AR technology has gone through a significant change.

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

AR allows toy manufacturers to unlock new kinds of experiences.

The game may start with a physical toy and end up in a digital universe where kids keep their play moments and share them with friends.

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

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

Embracing AR now not only means obtaining a tool to future-proofing your toy brand's offering for the new generations.

It also means following Pokémon Go giant’s steps when your audience and technology are ready to accept the change.

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