Toys "R" Us Launches App That Turns Its Stores Into AR Playgrounds

Alicia Cross
October 5, 2017

An "augmented reality" experience was introduced by Toys R Us in hopes of bringing customers into stores for the critical holiday shopping period after filing for bankruptcy in September.

The augmented reality puts computer-generated images on top of the real world environment, likely tapping into last year's craze of Pokemon Go.

But the limited features feel a bit gimmicky unless Toys R Us can keep updating or releasing fresh app content. Play Chaser is free and being tested in 23 stores across the USA starting today, with plans to roll out to all stores by October 21st.

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Toys R Us notes in its announcement that the app does not include any in-app purchases or ads that could lead to accidental spending (but that won't stop your children from accidentally switching to another app where they might shop away). The question remains, though, why haven't other reeling bricks-and-mortar retailers like Sears used it to save themselves from online competition? Point the app at star icons in the store and it turns their experience into a virtual playground. The AR experience will become available on all Toys "R" Us branches in the U.S. by October 21.

The app will allow shoppers to animate Toys R Us' Geoffrey the Giraffe mascot as they navigate the store and shoot virtual baskets, take care of a virtual baby or scan a code to watch a toy animate on their phone screen. Another cool feature? Some games have leaderboards that show where players rank amongst each other in their local store and nationally.

"It's going to transform the experience of coming into a Toys R Us bricks and mortar store and turn it into something that's quite different and a lot more fun, " Brandon told USA Today. There are 15 Toys " R " U.S. and Babies " R " Us stores located in the Houston area. The toy retailer has been dealing with slowing sales lately and it's not been good for the business.

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