Upgrade to arcade: Hasbro’s Matt Proulx discusses upsizing the Bop It brand

Hasbro’s Vice President, Location Based Entertainment, Matt Proulx, on developing Bop It Arcade

Matt, thanks for joining us. You recently worked on what looks like a very exciting Bop It project… Bop It Arcade. Tell us about that! How did it come about?
I certainly can’t take any credit for this project! It was developed by our fantastic Hasbro Digital Gaming team, with creative development being led by Pedro Geppert in partnership with SEGA. We’ve had a long relationship over the years and – due to the great tactical play value that Bop It offers – the team at SEGA and at Hasbro thought that it was a perfect fit to bring to life in this format.

And why is that, Matt; why is Bop It so suitable for use as an arcade game, do you think?
Bop It is all about physical reactive play – it just screams out to have a larger format for fans of all ages to play. There’s so much inherent fun at the base of what Bop It allows for… It also has the ability to play either solo or as a group, which an arcade machine must deliver upon.

Additionally, due to the massive success of the Bop It game, introduced in 1996, the popularity of the brand and how it plays have become part of our cultural identity. That means consumers and fans can walk up to the machine and know exactly how to play – with minimal instruction.

That’s a very good point. Even when it was first out, it was a very intuitive game… Now, with over 25 years on the market, that’s more true than ever. Let me ask you, though: how did you go about adapting the original play pattern for this?
The great part of adapting the gameplay was that it was right in front of us the whole time, when you looked at what we created with Bop It Extreme. The gameplay had been proven out from a mass-market product perspective, so adapting this to a larger format – such as an arcade machine – was a bit more simple given the roots had already been established.

Matt Proulx, Hasbro
And why is now the right time for this, Matt?

We see this as part of a bigger trend happening within the Location Based Entertainment world. There’s been a general trend amongst Millennials, Generations Y and Z, where people want to have more shared experiences with their friends and family…

They seek to connect and bond using brands or experiences that can bring everyone together. When you look at a brand like Bop It – one that’s delivered so many of those moments within the four walls of people’s houses – it’s a natural opportunity to share those moments out of the home on a super-sized scale. It’s something we’re excited to be a part of and what drives our Blueprint 2.0 strategy, creating and using these iconic brands and building on them in new and imaginative formats.

And to that point, then, when you’re looking for brands to adapt, what does the IP need to deliver to make the experience worthwhile?
An IP needs to deliver an experience that is three things… Repeatable – meaning that you can do it over and over again and still have fun as the outcome can be different every time… Memorable – while it’s easy to say “just fun”, it’s more important that a guest walks away from the experience having felt that it was worth their money and time…

There also needs to be an ease of understanding – asking too much of guests in this area takes away from the ‘fun factor’; it takes away from it being a positive, memorable experience. To me if you keep these three things at the top of the decision making filter, you’ll have a lot more successful experiences versus the opposite!

Matt Proulx, Hasbro

Fantastic answer! I love that, thank you. And generally speaking, when Hasbro’s looking to adapt IP for more experiential uses, what’s the process? Where do you start?
The process starts by first having an amazing team that can see past just the iconography of a brand, and see the interpretation of how that brand can manifest itself in so many different forms. On my team, we often speak about seeing a blank canvas to paint on where we need to be true to a brand’s essence, but think past the physical boundaries that might exist in someone’s mind.

From there, we look at what the core essence of a brand might be, such as Transformers and it being “robots in disguise” or “more than meets the eye”. You take those two statements for that brand, and the experiences that can be created are endless… At that point, we also look at who the experience is for – and ensure we work to create an experience that caters to those demographics, then begin to create and design an experience that defies expectations.

Lovely! Tell me, Matt how did you come to be doing what you do? What’s your background?
Well… While I’d like to say that I had a super-well-thought-out plan on how I’d end up in Location Based Entertainment and doing the other things that I do, I would be lying. Before joining Hasbro, I had a couple of different careers and then, after joining, that trend continued working on the brand, studio and licensing segments of the company…

About eight or so years ago, my team saw an opportunity emerging in the marketplace… One that was based on insights of future generations and how they were looking to engage and consume brands, along with an expansion of investment into the Location Based Entertainment world. From there, it’s just been an amazing experience and opportunity to do what we do every day: bring our brands to life in ways that guests just couldn’t imagine being possible.

Matt Proulx, Hasbro

What’s next for you?
Our team has a bunch of new major experiences that’ll be opening up around the world – for example, our first ever NERF theme park land, called NERF Mania…

Oh my days! Wheres that going to be?!
It’s in Beto Carrero World; Santa Catarina in Brazil. And in Shanghai, we’re opening our first ever Hasbro themed hotel. In 2024, in North Texas, we’re also opening up our second North America Peppa Pig Theme Park. That follows the popular Florida theme-park attraction… There certainly are a lot more experiences and cool stuff coming down the pipe all around the world, and I’m just lucky to have such an amazing team that can achieve those dreams and make them a reality.

I like that you give your team a lot of praise and credit, Matt. Let me ask you one last question… What’s the one thing I could’ve asked you today – but didn’t
Oh! I don’t know if there’s anything specific like that… I’d just add that, within this year, Hasbro has plans to significantly expand its Location Based Entertainment offerings to cater to audiences across the globe. From a Hasbro City in Mexico, and new Play-Doh-themed attractions in Saudi Arabia, to Melbourne’s MONOPOLY DREAMS, we’re going where our fans are to offer them new ways to immerse themselves in the iconic brands they grew up with.

I do hope you’ll come back and tell us about these things!
Love to! We’re excited to create these new experiences, and we’re lucky to have Hasbro’s portfolio to touch on the nostalgia and stay relevant across generations of fans. Bop It Arcade needs Bop It’s enormous popularity from the past 25 years, and we’re lucky that this model holds true for so many of our brands as we explore ways to innovate the experiences people have with them.

Fantastic, Matt! Thanks ever so much for making time. The machine looks beautiful, by the way… Adam Butler saw one “out in the wild” and couldn’t resist it!
That’s great to hear! Thanks!

Matt Proulx, Hasbro

Asked to comment on the release of Bop It Arcade, Bop It creator Dan Klitsner told us:
“I’m thrilled that Bop It Arcade has become a reality! After we built a prototype back in the early 2000s, almost everyone from Hasbro that visited our studio would play it and say, “We should make this…” For some reason, though, the stars never aligned…

Now, thanks to SEGA, and a renewed effort from Matt Proulx and his Hasbro team, the entire Bop It community can play this beautiful version. I’m so excited! I’m also hopeful that this will open the doors to many of the other extensions that we’ve pitched over the years. Watch this space!”

Matt Proulx, Hasbro

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