Remaking Retro

Snacks and gaming are inexorably tied together, so it’s only natural that a snack brand so loved as Doritos would use gaming as a way of engaging users with a new product: Doritos Mix, a combination of four unique chips in one bag. But such brand tie-ins are a dime-a-dozen; how can we use technology to create unforgettable experiences? In partnership with Doritos' brand agency The Marketing Arm (TMA), HYFN was tasked with updating classic arcade experiences for the connected age of gaming in channels both digital and physical. To do so, we matched retro gaming experiences with hand-built technology, Twitch group play, analog ingenuity, and an anything-is-possible spirit—all resulting in a series of wide-reaching, first-ever achievements.

Our Role
Doritos Mix Arcade games on mobile platforms, tablet and mobile

The Mix Arcade

The Mix Arcade was created to engage a large number of users, driving awareness of the new Doritos Mix product and drumming up enthusiasm ahead of the claw machine activation and E3. It featured four reincarnated arcade classics, each embodying a Doritos Mix chip: Chip Defenders, Chip Kwon Do, Dinamita Detonator, and Twist Cannon. By winning (or entering codes from purchased bags), users earned tokens they could use to play a virtual claw game for instant win prizes.

Once the tech was there, we decided to inject a bit of the 21st century into the design by adding WebGL shaders, particle effects, pixel processors to add noise and randomness to different textures, and camera shakes to give explosions more of a visceral feel. The sound, however, stayed in the 20th century: 8-bit all the way. The games were fun, addicting, and hunger-inducing. Mission accomplished.

Doritos Mix Arcade splash - recreations of classic arcade games, custom branded for Doritos Mix
Doritos Mix Arcade splash - recreations of classic arcade games, custom branded for Doritos Mix
Doritos Mix - Chip Defender gameplay footage Doritos Mix - UI controls example Doritos Mix - Onboarding screen example Doritos Mix - Snack Kwon Do gameplay footage
Doritos Mix Claw Machine playing live on Twitch

Twitch plays The Doritos Claw

Twitch is the largest community of gaming enthusiasts on the planet, and we wanted them to have an E3-level experience through a special Twitch functionality called group play. But before Twitch could play the claw machine, we had to build one. And it had to be perfect.

Doritos + Twitch + A Claw Machine

We found a US-based claw machine manufacturer and worked with them to update the firmware for our experiment. We then connected a Raspberry Pi to control the i/o of the claw itself. With several types of prizes, we needed the ability to distinguish and associate prize with user. So we built a ramp to guide won prizes towards a prize gate with an an RFID scanner connected to an Arduino which was also connected to our Raspberry Pi. If a prize ever failed to scan, the gate would kick the prize ball backwards up the ramp every five seconds until it scanned.

Doritos Mix Arcade - Under the covers, how it worked

We used dual 4K GoPros to stream the feed of the machine to Twitch, where users could use chat to control the machine, casting votes on which way the claw should move with each turn. Twitch gaming influencers rallied users together on their streams, organizing moves and actually succeeding together.

Doritos Mix Claw Machine on a popular Twitch influencer's channel Behind the scenes, a GoPro provides the main visual angle for the Doritos Mix Claw Machine experience on Twitch
Doritos Mix Claw Machine next game countdown The Twitch chatroom playing to win with the Doritos Mix Claw Machine
Close up look at the Doritos Mix Claw Machine in action
Breakdown of ball colors and eligible prizes for the Doritos Mix Claw Machine
Gigantic Doritos Mix Arcade arcade machine by Union Digital, at E3 2016 in Downtown Los Angeles


As E3 drew near, Doritos’ agency, TMA, approached us to reimagine our virtual games as physical machines in two separate forms to support the massive Doritos presence at the conference, hosting performances from Steve Aoki, Wiz Khalifa, Big Boi, and others.

We began by rescaling our games to live on a 45-foot LED screen, complemented by a six-foot joystick and giant functional buttons fabricated by partners Union Digital, and running on our code—all amounting to the world’s largest arcade cabinet, floating above a 60-foot stage where the musicians were performing.

Doritos Mix Arcade at E3 while Steve Aoki performs Doritos Mix Arcade step and repeat
Doritos Mix Arcade live gameplay at Staples Center for E3 Doritos Mix Arcade - Chip Defender gameplay at E3
Doritos Mix Arcade game cabinets

We also placed our games into physical arcade cabinets to host our original four games, with new levels included for a more robust experience. Players at the event who achieved high scores on the cabinets were then invited to play on the big screen, with the big joystick, for everyone to enjoy.

Cabinets designed and built by Union Digital

Beyond Expectations

Bringing a custom gaming and prize experience to Doritos’ fans and gaming fans via emerging technology was a thrilling endeavour. The custom arcade games were intended to live for eight weeks on; however, the success from the gameplay on the site led to more games at E3 in arcade cabinets and on the big screen on the Doritos Mix stage. Though the promotion has ended, the games of live on. And we’re off to the arcade to show off our claw skills.

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