A Research Project on Hybrid Experiences

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Disney Appmates

App Toys 3Disney Appmates is a line of Cars 2 (2011) themed toys and a free iPad app. Players place the toy car on the iPad and then, by turning the car, control a virtual version of it cruising around different landscapes, presented from a top-down view. 

An “appcessory” game from Disney, Appmates consists of toy cars themed around Pixar’s Cars 2 and a free game app downloadable for iPad. The toy cars are “driven” across the top of an iPad: the user holds the car in the center of the screen while the scenery races by. The toys interact with the Appmates app through special pads at the bottom of the cars. There is no need for any other accessories or installations beside the app, as the app recognizes the pads and activates as soon as the toy is placed on it. (The game, however, can be fooled by placing fingers in the same spots, and driven without the toy.) Headlights and different optional accessories appear on screen around the toy, as if they were really attached to it. The game is based around different locations from the Cars movies and lets players drive around courses, complete missions and collect special hubcaps which can be used as virtual currency to by virtual items in the game.

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Disney Infinity

Disney Infinity 4Disney Infinity is a line of toys that can be transported into a digital game of the same name. The characters are based on popular Disney characters and form different play-sets that each contain a campaign of its own.

With Disney Infinity players place specific character figurines on a special pedestal to activate their digital equivalents in a digital game of the same name. As such, it stands as direct competition to Activision’s Skylanders. Playing takes form viaplay-sets”, which provide access to the different campaign games, sized around six hours in playtime. Characters and play-sets from Monsters University, The Incredibles, and Pirates of the Caribbean are featured, among others. The campaigns are widely varied and differ from each other in play style, too. The play-set stories are designed to function with a particular set of characters, meaning that each play-set only supports characters from its own franchise.

The characters can, however, be mixed in the Toy Box mode, a sort of a sandbox game creator mode, where players are able to create their own game experiences. There are also special coin collectibles that unlock particular Disney themed objects in the Play Box mode. These coins can be purchases in blind packs – sealed and unseen before purchase. As such, they can be easily placed in cereal boxes and the like.

Rather than a new game franchise, Disney sees Infinity as a platform for games, most likely suggesting that the company aims for continuing figurine sales as it introduces new franchises.

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Disney DreamPlay

Disney DreamPlay app toys 1DreamPlay is an AR game product that works via an app downloaded to Apple devices. With the app open, players can point their device’s camera at a DreamPlay toy to trigger animations and other alternate reality interactions involving Disney characters.

DreamPlay toys are augmented reality products, made by Jakks Pacific, that use patented 2D and 3D recognition technologies to instantly recognize a toy, while adding moving characters to it, thus allowing interaction and play with the AR objects. The toys incorporate iD image recognition technology, which recognizes images, 3D objects, voice, speech, data, live video and more, with the capability to differentiate between millions of objects at once. This allows kids to use a physical toy to play iOS/Android app games and view animations using a tablet or smartphone. The content is focused on Disney franchises, such as The Little Mermaid and Peter Pan.

DreamPlay works via the cloud, with images and interactions stored on a remote server and streamed to mobile devices when the app is opened and the camera is pointed at the toys. The patented technology has also removed the need for any type of QR code. Jakks will also produce DreamPlay Toys based on other brands such as Monsuno.