Augmented Reality and Franchising: The Evolution of Media Mix Through Invizimals

Augmented Reality and Franchising: The Evolution of Media Mix Through Invizimals

Miguel Ángel Pérez-Gómez (University of Seville, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3119-8.ch007

Abstract

In 1996, with the advent of video game franchises like Pokemon (Game Freak, 1996-), the concept of media mix (originally a Japanese concept that refers to the communicative strategies in which media content is spread across multiple platforms) began to take off. However, media mix is not exclusively limited to Japanese productions. In 2009, Novarama, in collaboration with Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, launched the Spanish Augmented Reality video game Invizimals. A decade later, this universe has notably expanded across different platforms, evolving considerably from its original format: but falling short of integrating the entire universe. In this chapter, we examine hybridation between transmedia strategies and media mix through the Invizimals universe to demonstrate how the franchise has expanded a decade later to the point where it has consolidated its own strategic model for developing content.
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A Theoretical Approach To The Media Mix Phenomenon

As with many concepts relating to multiplatform communication, it is a complicated matter to find an all-encompassing definition of media mix. Therefore, it is necessary to focus on its different aspects in order to understand it fully. A good departure point is the definition proposed by Ito: “[A]n approach to storytelling pioneered in Japan in which information is dispersed across broadcast media, mobile technologies, collectibles, and location-based entertainment sites” (Ito in Jenkins, 2006, p. 289). That dispersion requires an analysis of the phenomenon from two perspectives: on the one hand, its construction at a business level, involving the generation of material or virtual content; and, on the other, the social aspects of its consumption.

To analyze the first characteristic, Ito’s definition can be supplemented by another put forward by Steinberg: “[T]he most widely used word to describe the phenomenon of transmedia communication, specifically the development of a particular media franchise across multiple media types, over a particular period of time” (2012, p. 135). Namely, if the planning is designed from the start, there should be a master plan on the possibilities of exploiting the product. Nevertheless, this term first appeared in the “Contemporary Advertising Dictionary” column of the January 1963 issue of the ad journal Senden kaigi (Advertising Meeting), in which it was defined as a sales technique involving several forms of organic advertising, which should be planned with an advertising goal in mind, before specifying that the strategic objective is to sell the product by all possible means (in Steinberg, 2012, p. 139).

The anime and manga industry uses the media mix as a seminal practice that has made this entertainment business one of the most profitable and wide-reaching in the world. So, what could be called “anime’s media mix” is based on three key elements:

Key Terms in this Chapter

Anime: This refers to both TV series and animated movies produced in Japan or influenced by this industry.

Hypersociability: A term coined by Ito to refer to how information on and experiences of a specific product are shared by different users under the same conditions.

Multiplatform entertainment: A form of narrative entertainment in which content is dispersed across multiple entertainment channels.

Creation of worlds: The design of fictional universes that support the franchise’s environment and which have to offer the chance to explore different narratives.

Immersion: When the users of a fictional universe emotionally identify with the text.

Manga: Japanese comics or graphic novels or those inspired by them.

Extension: The action of disseminating content and/or brands through different distribution channels in order to reach potential markets.

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