Bandai announced today that sales of the latest version of its iconic Tamagotchi virtual pet have reached 20 million units. The Tamagotchi Plus reached this milestone in just over two years, and the pace of sales is accelerating. After the game's March 2004 launch, Bandai sold the first 10 million units in 17 months, while moving the second 10 million units took just nine more months. With retail prices from 2,000 to 3,000 yen ($16.90 to $25.30), the Tamagotchi Plus represents a significant source of income for the Japanese toy and gamemaker.
The virtual pet game has been successful outside of Japan as well, selling 11.8 million units overseas. It was even chosen as the UK Toy Retailers Association's Toy of the Year in 2005. Tamagotchi games have also seen success around the world. The most recent release, Tamgotchi Connection: Corner Shop, arrived in US stores earlier this year.
Part of this success may be due to the new tricks that Tamagotchis have learned since they first took the market by storm in 1996. All versions of the Tamagotchi Plus share information between units using infrared connectivity, and some versions can even communicate with cell phones and upload information to the Internet.
Tamagotchi's perennial popularity has encouraged Bandai to explore revenue sources beyond its usual areas of expertise. In a partnership announced yesterday, Bandai will collaborate with Japanese clothing retailer Uniqlo to produce Tamagotchi-branded children's clothing. Uniqlo's 709 domestic locations will offer children's T-shirts featuring Tamagotchi characters, bundled with a Tamagotchi game. Bandai describes its key strength as "character merchandising," and unexpected brand extensions like this one support that claim.