PET SIMULATORS have been popular among both casual and avid gamers for decades and developers continue to find ways to make these titles more and more interactive. Sony’s London Studio further innovates this genre by bringing virtual pets directly into the home.
EyePet uses the PlayStation Eye camera peripheral to generate a cute furry pet into your living room. The animal then reacts to any movements made by anyone in the room, allowing players to interact with them. It’s a charming concept that suits the increasingly family-focused market currently driving the industry, and one Sony has high hopes for.
“We have very high expectations for EyePet,” says product manager Lucy Duncan. “It’s a brand new and exciting IP for us, and we believe can really open up the PS3 market to young families.
“When people see EyePet in action, their reaction is always one of amazement and it never fails to make people smile. The feedback from retailers, consumers and press has been incredible, so we are really excited about the potential of EyePet and also what it can do for PlayStation 3.”
The PSEye technology will obviously be familiar to fans of EyeToy titles, but Duncan is keen to point out how Sony has advanced the technology, making EyePet even more interactive than previous camera-based efforts.
“EyePet is incredibly lifelike and has all the benefits of a real-life pet, but without wrecking your house or incurring vets bills,” she says. “EyePet uses Augmented Reality – the animal is fully aware of people in the room and will interact with you and your environment. Tickle it by waving your fingers in front of the camera and it laughs, poke it and it jumps, or roll it a ball to watch EyePet chase around the screen.
“One of the real ‘magic moments’ with EyePet is teaching your pet to draw. Simply show a drawing to the camera and your pet will copy it. This could be a car, aeroplane, rocket and many more options. The drawing will then turn into a 3D toy that EyePet can play with and you can control with your DualShock 3 controller.”
Sony is employing a ‘show not tell’ strategy for EyePet’s marketing campaign. The company will be supporting the game with a heavyweight campaign, centred around a two-week TV campaign that targets families and starts from October 19th, and this will be supported with a highly targeted kids promotion with Nickelodeon, using both TV and online.
An online campaign will target both mums and kids, with three different video MPUs that show a boy and girl playing with EyePet and demonstrating showing the different features and interactions that are possible within the game.
In terms of the game’s in-store presence, a range of POS will be available to retailers, but it’s the company’s choice of packaging that will ensure EyePet stands out.
“To build on the experience of taking a pet home, we have developed some bespoke packaging for EyePet in the style of a ‘pet carrier’, which will help the game stand out in-store and appeal to a younger demographic,” says Duncan.
“We will be carrying out sampling experience across many stores, both at traditional retail outlets and grocery to reach a broader family audience. We have four preorder incentives, which are being used to drive sales online with GAME, Play, HMV and Amazon.”
Sampling has already begun, with EyePet being shown as a part of the PlayStation House Tour across six major shopping centres up until the December 13th. Sony will also be running a dedicated EyePet sampling tour.