Bandai Namco Mobile's Journey with Tamagotchi: A Look Back and Ahead
BNM, Tamagotchi, and the evolution of a classic
Since its debut in 1996, Tamagotchi has not only captured but also maintained the fascination of generations. Originating as a unique concept of nurturing virtual friends housed in egg-shaped keyholders (tamago = virtual egg), Tamagotchi evolved into a global sensation, debunking early skepticism and becoming a billion-dollar phenomenon.
Fast forward to today, and the charm of these digital companions continues, propelled by the nostalgia of those '90s kids, now sharing the joy with their children.
Bandai has significantly expanded the Tamagotchi universe, offering over 60 adaptations that include a wide array of toys, games, apps, and a captivating 192-episode animated series. And let’s not forget that the virtual friend has had some exciting collaborations with famous franchises like PAC-MAN and Pokémon. However, the transition from simple hand-held devices to sophisticated smartphones needed an evolution of the classic experience, blending nostalgia with modern innovation.
But when you go from pocket-sized mini eggs with three buttons to pocket-sized minicomputers that can do everything but make your food, it's not enough to reproduce the same game in a new format or just throw the original concept out of the window. It is often said that no other source engenders feelings of nostalgia quite like the classics do, conjuring up memories from our childhood spent playing them on playgrounds or in our bedrooms at home.
In this vein, Bandai Namco Mobile embarked on a pioneering journey with "My Tamagotchi Forever" - the first Tamagotchi game developed by a Western team for a Western audience. Announced on the franchise's 21st anniversary and launched in 2018, this game marked a significant milestone.
It represented a shift in focus, considering the Western market's preferences and gaming habits.
My Tamagotchi Forever was created with the original Tamagotchi's DNA in mind, striving to capture the same fun and nostalgic spirit that made it such a hit all these years, and the project was no small feat — creating an entertaining game that authentically captures the spirit of Tamagotchi while adapting to a global audience and new platform posed dozens of challenges, some expected and some unexpected.
The Bandai Namco Mobile team embarked on an exploratory journey: they delved into the franchise's rich history and fanbase, reimagined the art style, and introduced a brand-new original character, Neliatchi.
The result was a game that preserved the nostalgic essence while offering fresh, interactive experiences that fans old and new alike could appreciate! Players can unlock Tama Tower, where each grown-up Tamagotchi gets their own apartment to decorate and visit. There is also Tama Academy, where adult Tamagotchis teach kids about their careers.
Plus, seasonal events keep the game exciting year-round, offering themed cosmetics for players to enjoy.
This new venture into mobile gaming expanded Tamagotchi's legacy beyond mere portability. "My Tamagotchi Forever" offered a global platform for interaction and personalization, allowing players to explore the Tamagotchi world in new, creative ways. However, it was more than just a game; it served as a vital learning experience for Bandai Namco Mobile. Through it, they gained invaluable insights into the IP, community engagement, market trends, and game mechanics that align with the Tamagotchi ethos.
There is a reason we reflect on that journey (but not something we can share with you right now… patience!), but even now, its role in Bandai Namco Mobile's evolution is very clear.
It was a foray into uncharted territory, a case study in understanding and adapting a beloved IP for a new audience and era. This experience laid the groundwork for future projects, providing the team with a deeper understanding of how to blend nostalgic IPs with contemporary gaming sensibilities.
That's the story of My Tamagotchi Forever: an adventure that started in 1996, and looking ahead, an enduring legacy that continues to inspire. With Bandai Namco Mobile at the helm, the essence of Tamagotchi is being carried into the future, evolving yet remaining true to its roots. The journey that began with "My Tamagotchi Forever" is just a glimpse of what's possible when tradition meets innovation. And while we can't reveal what's next, one can't help but feel that the story of Tamagotchi is ready to hatch into a new and exciting chapter.
Stay tuned, as the legacy is poised to continue in ways that will delight both long-time fans and new generations alike.
Bandai Namco Mobile
Published: 07 December, 2023