History of Phygital technology (in gaming and beyond)
Great start for innovative technology

The world around us is changing continuously. These changes happen in many aspects of life, and one of the most obvious nowadays is our interactions with the digital world. The Internet and various applications have become the same significant as many physical needs. Gadgets should always be accessible - connection with everything digital just can’t be broken.

Technology development brought us to a world where physical and digital realities are inseparable. Continuous changes created a new phenomenon, the innovation of phygitality. It was introduced as a marketing tool and then spread to other areas. For now, the phygital phenomenon has quite a few successful applications in the game industry, and the future promises even more interesting possibilities.

Phygital Marketing 

Everything started with resellers who tried to mix the popularity of online shopping and “magic” of visiting physical stores. It’s much more convenient to purchase things on the Internet, and still, the process lacks the special atmosphere around visiting physical places and talking with real people.

Phygital stores combine the experience of traditional and convenience of online shopping. Customers go to a physical store and make purchases through digital devices. It is very similar to opening a website and making an order from home, but the phygital process brings totally different feelings, and many people like them.

Another advantage of phygital shopping is the possibility to buy something on the way home without entering a store. It’s a kind of impulse purchase. People pass by a monitor and buy various goods - the orders will be delivered in an hour, so why waste time in supermarkets?

Also, marketers actively use the phygital technologies in advertisements. A poster may contain special codes that turn into video or interactive objects on the screen of smartphones. Phygital advertisements are relatively new and attract quite a lot of attention. Especially if the companies come up with gamified activities for their customers.

The technology behind

Phygital is a general term for almost anything that combines physical and digital components. Phygital can be powered up by different technologies. 

Phygital shopping uses big touch screens to allow interacting with a web-interface of online stores. Phygital advertisements use the technology of Augmented Reality - special visual information turns into digital objects. What about making the connection physical + digital even stronger?

A nice example of bringing AR into daily life through advanced technologies is the project Google Glass. This device doesn’t really need any special objects in the physical world to give users digital information. Google Glass scans the world and gets the necessary data from the servers. It’s a nice technology for some specific professional needs. Still, wearing such a thing on your face just for entertaining - it’s not the funniest use of phygitality.

From a tool to a product

The phygital technology gives innovative tools for business. They increase sales and strengthen brands. But what about phygital products for end-customers? The world of gaming has adopted this idea quite well.

Children play with physical toys. Also, children play video games. When game consoles and personal computers just entered the mass market, toys and video games were rather separated from each other. Now, phygital objects unite these two branches of gaming into one playing experience. This process only starts gaining power.

Grown-up gamers are the same absorbed into virtual adventures as children. For them, the significance of physical toys is not so obvious, and still, many gamers collect souvenirs, connected to their favorite franchises. If this connection is deeper than just external appearance, the toy will become much more precious.

For both young and adult gamers, phygital objects became an excellent offer. Some companies already entered this market:

amiibo by Nintendo

This famous Japanese developer is known for innovative products, and amiibo is exactly such a series. Here we have phygital cards and figurines from Nintendo franchises: Zelda, Mario, Animal Crossing, Metroid, etc. The figurines are beautiful on their own, and they also unlock unique content in the corresponding games.

amiibo were introduced in 2014 and the company has sold millions of such figurines and cards. So far, this is the most successful implementation of the phygital technology.

Starlink: Battle for Atlas by Ubisoft

This game about space adventures was released with the possibility to attach special spaceships and figurines of pilots to PS4 and Xbox One controllers and have the same spaceships and pilots in the virtual world. Ubisoft made a few sets but then stopped the production - the game isn’t very popular.

Lego Dimensions

Physical Lego blocks and figurines get their digital copies through special toy pads, so players control virtual objects by moving physical counterparts and even changing their shapes. Along with the essential starter packs, the company produced many additional packages. Characters from different worlds live in Lego Dimensions, such as DC Comics, Harry Potter, Simpsons, and Adventure Time. 

Skylanders by Activision

This series started as a spin-off of the games about Spyro the Dragon and continued with other worlds and characters. Players place figurines on the special portal and get them in the virtual worlds - the figurines have in-built NFC chips and the portal is, in fact, a reader. The series is quite successful, and Activision has released six main Skylanders games.

Hot Wheels id by Mattel

Quite recently, Mattel launched a new series of their super-popular toy cars - with NFC chips to scan them and a special application to check the stats of physical toys or play with their digital copies. New cars are more expensive but have much more exciting features.

Small kids play physical toys a lot but teenagers move to digital entertainment. Phygital assets make a bridge between these worlds and expand the audience for both types of products: physical and digital.

A problem and a solution

The phygital technology is progressive and interesting for various companies - those working in the area of gaming and those who would like to gamify their business.

The main problem of integration is a high production price so only big corporations can afford to release phygital assets. The solution here is the Caer Sidi service. We offer the whole cycle - from manufacturing physical objects to connecting digital features. Please, check out this Caer Sidi presentation to get more information.

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