History of Toylets
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Sega of Japan officially launched Toylets in October 2011 as one of the first serious attempts to enter the interactive toilet market. Eight total games were produced for the hardware, with the company hinting at a possible international rollout. However, these plans did not come to fruition, and while reportedly well-received, Sega chose to discontinue all Toylets sales in May 2016.
While the concept of combining an interactive element with the process of urination is nothing new, virtually all previous attempts were either one-off art installations or with very limited commercial potential. Sega's Toylets were the first product that was designed with the intention of supporting a viable market. Notably, Toylets could be installed on nearly any existing urinal, and featured a customer support system which lasted for over a decade, highlighting the company's considerable dedication to the idea of interactive urinals.
Sega's Toylets were first location-tested at four Tokyo Metro subway stations (including the stops at Akihabara and Ikebukuro) sometime around 2010, with the trial scheduled to end in January 2011. Alongside these tests were numerous appearances at official trade shows, where Tamero! Shoubengozou Deluxe was used to demonstrate the hardware. While the whereabouts of the original Tokyo Metro units are unknown, the location tests and press appearances seem to have been successful, and Toylets were later officially released for sale the following October.
On release, a Toylet system was available for roughly ¥245,000, with its USB stick-distributed games costing about ¥17,000 each. Eight games were available for the system, which appear to have all been available on launch day. As the hardware utilizes a generic external 100V power supply, it was decided not to included a power supply with purchase, requiring venue owners to source their own.
As one of the only commercially-produced interactive urinal systems, Toylets saw a great amount of interest on release, and was subsequently installed in a number of hotels, restaurants, and clubs around Japan. It was also installed in a number of Sega's indoor theme parks, like Tokyo Joypolis. The Toylets' official website lists the locations of over 180 installations in Japan, allowing users to seek out specific businesses which feature the hardware.
Interactive urinals like Toylets are often seen as interesting novelty experiences, with numerous venues advertising their installations as a means to attract additional guests. Many Japanese venue owners in Japan specifically installed Toylets at their properties to draw in new customers, as the chance to experience a Toylet is often seen as a notable point-of-interest or destination for curious guests. Curiously, venue owners also reported that the hardware reduced vandalism in their restrooms.
|When I put the product on our toilets, our sales doubled! I'm surprised! Customers come to the store specifically for our toilets!
— Venue owners on their installed Toylets
Sega initially promoted Toylets as being "currently limited" to Japan, hinting at a possible international release should the venture prove sustainable on a larger scale. While this never came to be, at least one game was localized into English (the popular Bukkake Battle! Hana Kara Gyuunyuu), making appearances in several South Korean venues.
The sale of Toylets hardware and software would officially end in May 2016. Customer support and maintenance services would continue for the next five years, finally concluding in March 2021.
Toylets were well-received by the gaming press, both as a meaningful push in the area of commercial interactive urinals, and as also embracing's Sega's creative drive to make entertainment more relevant in every part of people's lives. While sales figures and market performance information are hard to come by, the talk and reception around the new urine-based gameplay was unanimously positive.
The interactive urinal industry had not progressed to a commercially-viable point by the era Toylets were released, and remains that way to this very day. It was unlikely to have been an overly-profitable venture on an individual level, but its unique novelty and the amount of consideration paid to its design easily overshadowed any unprofitability with a significant amount of positive press and name recognition. Additionally, Sega's association as one of the world's top video game developers in the arcades, home, and handhelds now extended to an entirely new setting: the bathroom.
Toylets' unique nature has retained a strong legacy in Sega's history, and continues to be fondly remembered as both embodying the company's innovative spirit, and as history's most successful and well-known push in the area of commercial interactive urinals. Notably, the company maintains its installed units at Tokyo Joypolis, actively preserving the system's history and games while keeping it currently available to experience.
Toylets appear in 2017's Yakuza Kiwami 2 as a reasonably-accurate simulation of the original hardware and software, controlled using a standard controller and utilizing much of the same art and design. Only two of the original's minigames are available: Bukkake Battle! Hana Kara Gyuunyuu and Dokitsu! Boufuu Keihou Hatsurei.
- File:Toylet MilkfromtheNose US SouthKoreainstall.png
- https://playaslife.wordpress.com/2014/08/30/how-strong-do-you-pee-interactive-urinal-game/ (Wayback Machine: 2023-06-01 08:34)
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