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Translating the Horizon Zero Dawn experience into merchandise




In collaboration with

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Special thanks





Used software





During this project, done in collaboration with Guerrilla, a subsidiary of Sony Interactive Entertainment, I explored new merchandise possibilities for Guerrilla’s hit game Horizon Zero Dawn, which is an open world action/adventure RPG (videogame) set in a post-post-apocalyptic world, where nature has reclaimed Earth and terraforming machines have turned violent against humans. Guerrilla releases a new videogame every few years, meaning there is a period of silence of multiple years between every game release. To keep the Horizon Zero Dawn title still alive and relevant, the experience of the game was translated into a physical product.

Most of Horizon Zero Dawn's current merchandise

Horizon Zero Dawn’s current merchandise is quite safe and standard and does not translate the experience of the game well, and therefore a product expansion is advised. Based on the strengths of Horizon Zero Dawn and the opportunities derived from a trend analysis, multiple search areas were explored, of which eventually a combination of two was chosen. One of the chosen search areas, the one that was perceived as being "the coolest", focusses on interactive objects, such as radio-controlled vehicles and modeling kits, while the other one focusses on creating environmental or cultural awareness. Within the two chosen search areas many ideas were explored. This eventually led to the direction of self-sufficient enclosed ecosystems. Over time, the plants inside the ecosystem will grow bigger, and “Mother Earth will slowly reclaim what has always been hers”. This perfectly fitting direction for Horizon Zero Dawn led to three different concepts.

Hover/press to see what the Spruitje, Big Brother looks like after four years.

One of the concepts, the main focus of this project, is a limited art “toy” aimed at the “hardcore” fans of Horizon Zero Dawn, while the other two concepts are subtilized versions of the same idea. The subtilized concepts are both jarred ecosystems with a collectible figure inside of it. The two concepts vary in size and price, while only the more expensive ecosystem also includes an internal light.

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Concept 1.jpg
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The concept for the “hardcore” fanbase also includes a self-sufficient ecosystem, but this one is placed inside a massive (250x250x225 mm) scale model of a Shell Walker. Furthermore, the concept works interactive with Horizon Zero Dawn by reflecting the in-game’s events with (coloured) light effects. When not playing the game, the product can still be used as, for instance, an ambient light source or a wakeup light. All concepts keep the user interacting with the product once in a while, as they need to water or trim the plants. The concepts also add a touch of real nature inside a gamer’s house, and thereby adding environmental awareness.


In order to validate the concepts, two prototypes were made to communicate the concepts clearer towards the target audience. The first prototype, representing the two subtilized concepts, is a simple enclosed self-sufficient (a Spruitje, Pickles) ecosystem with a vinyl TOTAKU figure of a Watcher placed inside of it. This was already representative enough for both concepts.

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Since the Shell Walker body is an essential part of the third concept, that first prototype was not sufficient enough to represent it. In order to make a good representation of it the Shell Walker was modeled (using SketchUp, which is probably the worst software to use for this, but the one I am most familiar with) and 3D printed. The concept was too big to fit an actual 3D printer, so the 3D model had to be cut into various parts, which led to quite an intensive modeling kit.

The final prototype has multi-coloured LEDs inside of its crate en blue LEDs inside of its eyes, which can be controlled separately. Furthermore, the arms of the prototype, as well as its right arm, are fully posable. The whole prototype was painted grey to indicate that it is not yet a finished product, but still a prototype. Finally, Spruitje, did a lovely job on installing the plants.

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