Tamagotchis are items where the popularity can feel a bit cyclical. While they tend to maintain a constant presence in Japan, they aren’t always assured a release in other regions. That’s been changing over the last few years, thanks to the presence of the Gudetama Tamagotchi Nano, a revival of the original Tamagotchis, and the localization of the Tamagotchi On. Now that the Pac-Man Tamagotchi has arrived and a new Tamagotchi On model is being released outside of Japan, Siliconera caught up with Tara Badie, Senior Director of Brand Strategy at Bandai America, to talk about the virtual pets and how models get localized.
Jenni Lada, Siliconera: Do you notice any interesting responses from specific demographics regarding Tamagotchis? Do people of certain ages seem more vocal about specific models?
Tara Badie: Our original Millennial fans are still our most vocal fans and we love to hear from them. Our research shows we have multigenerational fans on each of our items–just the mix being different depending on the item.
For instance, Tamagotchi On is about 60% kids and 40% adults, where the original Tamagotchi is the opposite. The Tamagotchi has such mass appeal that it’s been amazing to watch the cross-generational play between parents and kids.
What led to Bandai Namco deciding to bring the more modern Tamagotchi lines to North America? For example, why was the timing right now for the On/Meets model, but not for the ID or 4U?
Badie: We decided to bring a more modern Tamagotchi to the US and Canada as we felt we had an item that made sense for a new generation. Tamagotchi has been in the Japan market for most of the 23 years where here in the States it has been more sporadic as we look for the device that we think would work in our market based on the environment and competition.
Which Tamagotchi On model ended up being most popular in North America so far? How will this influence future products?
Badie: We launched last year with two different themes–Fairy and Magic–and four different colors. [Editor’s Note: There are actually five colors, as Amazon had an exclusive white Magic model.] Research showed us that people were happy with their theme and color they received, with the themes being mostly split 50/50.
We’re excited to launch the new Wonder Garden theme where we’re introducing a new Town to visit, exclusive characters, new games, accessories, and items. It has the same core play, just a new way to play it.
How active is the community in the Tamagotchi On app?
Badie: Per our research, 89% visit the APP weekly. Unfortunately, I don’t have the specific numbers.
Only two themed Tamagotchi Nanos have launched in English so far, the Gudetama and the Pac-Man. What did the localization and licensing process look like for the Gudetama model, since it came over from Japan? How did that differ from the Pac-Man model, since it was a North American exclusive?
Badie: Programming, design and development were all done in Japan, so the process wasn’t too much different. The only difference is we’re brought into the process earlier on Western launches.
For the Gudetama Tamagotchi, we worked with the local Sanrio team on the packaging, though we all agreed to closely follow what they did with the Japanese version. For Pac-Man, as the licensor is a sister company, the two brands worked together in Japan and kept us in the loop.
Badie: As we do with every product, we review and decide the level of interest in our market and decide which items to bring to the US and Canada. Each territory makes the decision based on their market.
What does the consideration process look like when any Tamagotchi model is created? Are more crossover models, along the lines of the Demon Slayer and Pac-Man varieties, being considered?
Badie: It takes about 12-18 months to bring an item to market, and I can say I’m presently working on various items for the Tamagotchi brand. We have exciting products coming!
This interview has been edited for clarity.