With a daily footfall of more than 68 million people, McDonald’s are in the enviable position of being able to reach millions of children in their most formative years.

Teaming up with R/GA London, McDonald’s set out to reinvent its Happy Meal platform for the evolving digital landscape and the shifting play habits of their audience.

PRELOADED joined the team as the game development partner to conceive, deliver and maintain a ‘purposeful play’ platform for 5-8 year olds with children’s developmental goals at its heart.


The starting point for R/GA and PRELOADED was the idea that kids learn best when they engage their imaginations. From building incredible machines to starring alongside their favourite character, the Happy Meal App features a carefully crafted set of games, AR activations and downloadable activities which whilst being fun and enjoyable, help children develop skills to succeed in a connected world.

Built upon a robust and validated Child development framework created by R/GA and validated by Fundamentally Children, the Happy Meal App helps kids develop a wide range of skills including: logical thinking, social and emotional, creative, physical, communication, memory and attention – while they experiment and solve challenges through gameplay. By completing games kids get rewards to interact and play with McDonald’s character, Happy, dress the character up, play minigames and explore a variety of playful worlds together.

The starting point for R/GA and PRELOADED was the idea that kids learn best when they engage their imaginations.


From Smurfs and Barbie to Toy Story and Despicable Me, world-class licenses come into the Happy Meal every day around the world, and Happy Studio’s principal objective is to support this on a per market basis.

Deployed in more than 117 markets, many with their own Happy Meal License calendar, the app always reflects the current Happy Meal toy available in that specific market, in one of the supported 44 languages.

To do this, the platform utilises a number of adaptable game and AR frameworks which can be tailored to support the license programme calendar. Using bespoke tools and content pipeline, third-party creators can construct and deliver these tailored experiences as asset bundles, often done in the background without the need for the user to update their app.

The Happy Meal App is deployed in more than 117 markets and supports 44 languages.

Happy Studio - Tray liner AR experience


Underpinning the calendar-driven license work is a features roadmap bringing the latest advancements in technology and hardware to the global platform.

These include social-style lenses allowing children to become their favourite characters and facial recognition giving learners the means to emotionally connect with characters. Happy Meal App also utilised PRELOADED’s experience in creating award-winning, large-scale augmented reality experiences to create on-site, innovative multiplayer experiences for families. Every feature was meticulously tested and piloted before rollout.

Recognising the global installer base – device penetration, variation in phone specifications and data networks, the app always provides a feature set which is tailored to the market and the audience. The result is a progressive platform that is both innovative and inclusive.

The Happy Meal App is available on iOS and Android and is updated every 6-8 weeks.

PRELOADED certainly lived up to their reputation as the UK’s leading educational games studio. They brought audience and product insight, as well as the specialist team capable of delivering a highly complex and scalable purposeful play platform.”

Chris Williams , Group Creative Director, R/GA, London, UK