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Photo: Toca Boca

Toca Boca, known for its open-ended play apps for young children, is in the midst of the biggest shift in its history. It's simultaneously moving its focus toward older kids and to a model that embraces in-app purchases rather than one-time upfront payments.

What's new: With Toca Life: World, the company is bringing together what had been several paid products into a single free app, with different paid options to unlock various content. Those who have already bought a Toca Life app will have that content unlocked from the get-go.

Why it matters: The move is likely to encounter pushback, but is part of a broader industry shift to focus on recurring revenue.

"This is really a very big step for us as a company," acknowledges Toca Boca president Caroline Ingeborn in an interview.

  • Shifting to an in-app purchase model will allow the company to bring together its various worlds, provide more frequent updates and offer various perks to an older set of 6–9 year olds.
  • The company has spent months working on the new setup, trying to offer a range of options to customers and clearly label what is free and what is paid.
"We don’t want to fool anyone," she says. "We want this to be as clear and transparent as possible."

It's been testing the new approach in Canada, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan since September. Toca Boca says both downloads and purchases have exceeded expectations in those countries.

The company is also taking a new approach to licensing. Toca Boca had a unisex clothing line that sold at Target, but that effort has wound down. Ingeborn says merchandise is still of interest, but the company is focused on categories kids like to get, such as stickers and toys.

"Very few brands have successfully been able to go from digital to physical," Ingeborn says. "That is a very big bet we are doing."

Go deeper

Updated 3 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Bill Clinton hospitalized for non-COVID-related infection

Former President Bill Clinton. Photo: Win McNamee/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Bill Clinton was admitted to the University of California, Irvine Medical Center on Tuesday for a non-COVID-related infection, his spokesperson Angel Ureña said Thursday.

The latest: In an update on Friday, Ureña said Clinton's health indicators are "trending in the right direction, including his white blood count which has decreased significantly."

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
5 hours ago - Health

FDA panel endorses shot of J&J booster for adults

Photo: Wolfgang Kumm/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Members of the Food and Drug Administration's vaccine expert panel on Friday unanimously endorsed a booster shot for adult recipients of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine at least two months after the initial dose.

Why it matters: The advisory committee raised concerns about a dearth of data to support their decision but ultimately decided to support an additional shot for those over 18.

Capitol Police officer indicted for obstructing Jan. 6 investigation

Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6. Photo: Brent Stirton/Getty Images

A U.S. Capitol Police officer has been indicted on obstruction of justice charges for allegedly helping hide evidence of a participant's involvement in the Jan. 6 riot.

Driving the news: Officer Michael A. Riley, 50, is accused of telling the unidentified participant, referred to as "Person 1," in the Jan. 6 riot to delete posts from Facebook, which showed them in the Capitol during the attack.