A Research Project on Hybrid Experiences

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Foam Fighters

Foam Fighters 2An appcessory game from WowWee, Foam Fighters utilizes a line of small detailed foam airplanes (free to be flown on their own) that attach to the smart device to allow the user to “fly” the plane in simulated situations on the screen.

In Foam Fighters players take to the skies with foamy WWII fighter planes. Developed as a part of WowWee’s AppGear line of appcessory game-toys, Foam Fighters utilize a method of attaching the model foam airplane to the smart device via a suction-cup mounting arm. The app, available free for iOS and Android, then recognizes the plane through the back camera of the smart device.  When viewed through the device screen, the attached plane can be seen flying, fighting and taking digital damage.

The physical game box includes two fighters, two fold-out stands and one suction-cup mounting arm. Each plane unlocks a different campaign based on historical battles (Battle of the Pacific, Battle of Britain and Battle of Europe) and players can choose either Axis or Allied forces. Missions include dog fights, bombing runs, landing and refueling, and escorting units. Earning points allows players to upgrade the planes with different guns and bombs. The game can also be played in multiplayer mode, including eight players skirmish mode over local wi-fi.


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Elite CommandAR

Elite CommandARIn Elite CommandAR your smartphone is mounted onto a physical toy gun transforming the two into a first-person shooter. As the AR gun is scanned around, players can aim at and shoot the virtual aliens as they appear in the real surroundings.

Similar to Hasbro’s Lazer Tag, WowWee’s Elite CommandAR lets you connect your Apple iPhone or iPod or Android phone to a physical toy gun and play against real-world or digital “enemies” simultaneously. Your Apple or Android device acts as your “screen,” through which, utilizing the built-in camera, you can view both your real-life surroundings and digital elements, software generated aliens, superimposed on those surroundings. The game controls use a first-person viewpoint with pan and tilt functions. Users aim the pistol and pull its trigger to shoot enemies and targets in the game. Secondary pistol buttons can be used to raise shield, change weapons, select special weapons and reload. Game modes include Campaign (undertake a mission to save Earth), Training (hone your skills on the shooting range) and AR Battle (battle digital enemies invading your living room). The game also includes 2-player co-op mode where the campaign can be completed together.

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ImageAkodomon is an appcessory  adventure game where players use a special AR cage to move their Akodomon creature in and out of the game app and to care, feed and groom it. Players are also able to strengthen the Akodomon by scanning a physical Akodomon toy.

In Akodomon, an AppGear appcessory game from WowWee, players explore the virtual world of Akodomon, discover hidden regions and engage in battles to restore peace to the land. Playing Akodomon consists of an Akodomon creature, the AR cage, an AR marker and the Akodomon game app. While physical components all come with the game box purchase, the app is available free for the iOS and Android. During play, players are able to scan their Akodomon toy in order to transform their creature into an all-powerful alter ego, Colossus. Each of the six Akodomon has its unique strengths and abilities. The AR cage is used to care for the Akodomon in the real world: the app will indicate when Akodomon needs to be send to its cage for grooming. Using the AR cage, the creature can also be fed in order to power it up. The AR marker, shaped like a tree stump, is used for head-to-head battles with a friend in co-op AR mode. When viewed through a smart device, the AR marker will become the center of the arena.

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Zombie Burbz

ImageIn Zombie Burbz, an appcessory game for iPad, player controls a zombie by utilizing a zombie action figure. By moving the figurine on iPad players fend off attacking humans with screams, burps, and other weapons, and lure them into traps.    

In Zombie Burbz, developed by WowWee as a part of its AppGear line, the zombies want to keep up with the Joneses, not eat them. Player is tasked with fighting off angry mobs of the living and feed the zombies with their preferred food, garbage. The game box contains three collectable figurines, one deluxe figure, a storage ring for the deluxe figure and one quick start guide. The game is controlled with the deluxe figure. Each deluxe zombie figure unlocks its own unique storyline and missions (there are four Zombie Burbz packs: Avenue, Services, High and Diner).

The player controls the game by moving the zombie figure on the iPad with one hand, directing it to face the right direction of oncoming enemies, while the other hand taps virtual iPad buttons, deploying different weapons. This way, the gameplay actually resembles old school arcade style gaming, as the player appears to be holding a small joystick, while hitting the “arcade cabinet” buttons with her other hand.

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The marriage of retail and app economy

ImageFor some time now the big problem for many traditional retail chains has been consumer exodus to immaterial goods and services. The app revolution, ushered forward by the likes of Apple and Google, has driven traditional retailers to seek answers from the hybrid economy.

The app revolution has widely captured the imagination of younger consumers eager to spend their play time on the countless free or nearly free gaming apps and app toys. “Until now, traditional retailers or brick-and-mortars have been unable to tap into this huge growing market. They’ve been left out of the app party”, Mike Gonzales, creative director and digital brand manager for WowWee, says. Now however, hybrid products that both feature an enticing app and need a physical component to in order to work provide retailers “an opportunity to take a bite out of the ‘app’ pie”, as Gonzales puts it. WowWee’s AppGear products are sold at retail with price points of roughly 9,99€ up to 19.99€, with the apps to run them offered as a free download. The emergence of hybrid products, then, can be seen representing a compromising marriage of the traditional retail business and the newer app economy.