Nerf has been a staple in the toy and entertainment industry for the past 50+ years. What started as a foam ball company expanded to include foam dart guns, water blasters, and, more recently, laser tag guns.
So what’s the future of Nerf like? How can the company and its competitors exist in the 21st century? It has to be challenging to keep up with its tradition while creating the same kind of excitement for potential customers.
Let’s go over potential ways Nerf, as well as other companies making the same products, can integrate Today’s technology with yesterday’s toys.
What’s the Future of Nerf Like?
Nerf carved its current place as a leader in the toy industry thanks to a long history of innovation and clever market study. In our world that’s constantly changing, getting more and more digital and less about physical play, a traditional toy manufacturer could have its market share in jeopardy.
There are ways Nerf was able to maintain its leadership, though. The following methods were the recipe for Nerf’s success, as well as a blueprint for similar companies to trace their footsteps.
Incorporating Advancements in Technology
Nerf doesn’t exist in a vacuum away from other entertainment options. That’s why the 90s foam dart blasters couldn’t possibly be the end of the road for the toy technology that it can offer.
Incorporating technological advancements, like the use of virtual reality in the 2022 Nerf release “Nerf Ultimate Championship,” allowed players to simulate a Nerf Blaster battle using VR headgear and controllers.
The immersive experience allows users to engage in a foam dart battle. Players go on a quest using special boosters and facing challenges that make the game feel realistic and engaging.
That’s not all. A few years earlier, in 2018, Nerf released an augmented reality game through its Laser Ops line that allows you to play a laser tag game using your smartphone and Nerf laser Blaster.
The game, called Laser Ops Pro, is as fun to play in single-player mode as it is in multiplayer.
As for potential future releases, Nerf and its competitors can incorporate other elements that players love about online gaming, like leaderboards and championships. Allowing for a moderated live chat feature can also make the game reminiscent of first-person shooter (FPS) video games.
Evolution of Design
Nerf continues to be the leading brand in the foam dart blaster market, and the design of their best Nerf guns is a significant factor in this success. With innovative advancements in both form and function over the years, Nerf has cemented its reputation as the most popular choice for foam dart enthusiasts.
The idea of a Blaster that’s both visually enticing as well as functional makes for a huge portion of Nerf’s collaborations with franchises and content creators.
For example, Nerf has been a long-time collaborator with the Jurassic series, Star Trek, and Dungeons and Dragons, which makes sense for an action-based toy line.
The gorgeous, exciting designs to come out of these lines have been a constant source of awe for entertainment franchises and Nerf fans alike.
That said, Nerf has also collaborated with the Youtube content creator Mr. Beast to produce a special edition Gelfire Blaster to capitalize on his popularity. This introduces Nerf as an entertainment and merchandising option for the newer generations.
Aside from different skins, Nerf can also upgrade the mechanisms of operation to include new technologies, such as CO2 cartridges for dart propulsion. These provide a more fun way to use your Blasters, making the shooting process extra stimulating.
Another newer addition to the game is 3D-printed pieces that can act like side gear or add-ons to original Blasters. This option makes Nerf customization super easy, convenient, and interesting.
However, it can also take a huge chunk out of Nerf’s market share by allowing users to print their own Blaster designs, tweaking them as they go along. There are already tons of high-fps, long-range Nerf snipers on the market from 3rd party vendors that pack a serious punch.
Unless Nerf starts putting out its own 3D printing patterns, it’s bound to lose a couple of customers.
Lastly, the trend among companies is to use materials that don’t adversely affect the environment, such as recycled and biodegradable plastics. The materials used for Nerf Blasters can afford to be more environmentally conscious.
This shift can help maintain the reputation Nerf has had for using biodegradable open-cell foam to make balls and darts in its early years. Thanks to the more eco-conscious new generations, it can propel the company and act as a marketing strategy.
Another option looming on the horizon is the idea of recognizing Nerf games as competitive sports. Just like video games have found a niche for themselves online, Nerf has the same potential.
We’re talking about forming professional teams, designating champions, as well as accepting sponsorships to pay for training and offer real-world perks. This can help Nerf break out of its reputation as a toy/niche interest for adults and more into the realm of recognized e-sport.
The potential is already there, with YouTube content creators having play-through live streams and videos that garner hundreds of thousands of views. This means the gap in the market exists and can be satisfied by good organization.
The future of Nerf as a company mirrors the future of all physical toys in this day and age. If the company doesn’t evolve, incorporating new technologies that have become mainstream, it has no longevity.
Thankfully, Nerf execs have the foresight to start making it more than just a physical game. The adoption of Virtual and Augmented Reality in the gameplay makes the toys more immersive and engaging.
Moreover, design elements that catch the eye and aid in gameplay have a huge part in attracting new players. Not to mention the idea of making toys that are eco-conscious, which should appeal to the younger demographics more.
Last but not least, taking Nerf out of the pure entertainment zone and more into the competitive realm can prove to be great for the company. Sponsorships can entice players to invest more time and effort and invite more companies to follow in Nerf’s footsteps.