If you were born in the 1990s, there’s a pretty good chance that you grew up playing with a Tamagotchi—virtual handheld “pets” that required around-the-clock care—or you at least knew someone who spent their time at the whims of their own two-inch toy.
Tamagotchi, launched by Bandai in Japan in 1996 and the US in 1997, was one of the largest toy trends of its era. Millions across the globe fed, cleaned up after, and cared for their virtual Tamagotchi pets and by September of 1997, more than 70 million had been sold, according to a New York Times article from that year.
Tamagotchi spawned a generation of virtual pets, including the Petz video games series, Nintendogs, and others. Now, Dragon Federation wants to take up the mantle, bringing virtual pets—specifically dragons—to virtual and augmented reality.
Virtual reality (VR) often uses a headset to replace real-life surroundings with simulated ones, while augmented reality (AR) changes add digital aspects to your actual view, often through a smartphone—think Pokémon GO. Dragon Federation plans to use both to make those virtual pets even more realistic.
The project initially started on Kickstarter, but shut down due to what co-founder and CEO Samson Madsen described as “bad partnerships.” Since then, the team has been hard at work on a VR/AR experience that will allow those with a physical “egg” to ‘hatch’ a dragon that will grow and act based on how the owner interacts with it.
When the product launches, which Madsen believes will be later this year, consumers will be shipped a physical egg that they can “peer inside of” using virtual and augmented reality technologies. Once a dragon “hatches,” it becomes a virtual living pet that needs raising, training, and care, just as a Tamagotchi or Nintendogs would, except with new technology that makes it a more advanced modern-day experience.
The exact experience a user has is completely up to them, Madsen says.
“If you want your dragon to be a killing machine or a cuddling machine, that’s up to you,” he says.
There will be an NFT component to the dragons, but that’s mainly just for the proof of ownership component—it’s not really an NFT or blockchain game.
“It shouldn’t be touted as an NFT game or a blockchain experience,” Madsen says. “This is a Triple-A experience that uses blockchain technology. We’re using that as a leverage opportunity to expand the universe and to validate that universe, but it’s not something I would say is integral to the experience.”
The price point for the eggs has yet to be finalized, though pricing will vary based on rarity level and will be competitive with video games. It’s more of an experience than a video game though, Madsen stresses. There’s no “beating the game,” or having to purchase a new game every year. In fact, VR and AR are trying to change the way they’re perceived—moving away from the gaming aura.
It might take some time to reach the market the way they want to, especially after the Kickstarter setbacks, but Madsen is confident that once they start ramping up their marketing efforts, they’ll regain some people’s attention. Their email list still has over 10,000 subscribers.
“When we initially took the year off from Kickstarter and then relaunched, I was surprised at how engaged our emails were,” he says. “With anything, as communication slows, as progress slows, interest levels die down… When we start talking about official dates and launch, our engagement jumps dramatically.”
Madsen expects Dragon Federation to be “platform agnostic” and available on hardware from HTC’s Vive to Oculus and iPhone to Android.