Some analysts were worried about the “toys-to-life” gaming market when Disney discontinued its line of Disney Infinity products earlier this year, effectively shutting down its own game division in the process. However, Warner Bros. and Activision’s are still forging ahead with their respective games, indicating that there’s still plenty of life left in the genre.
Both companies put a huge push into their respective Lego Dimensions and Skylanders brands this week at E3, assuring that their latest releases will appeal to millions of fans additions and features to their toys-to-life releases.
Although Activision doesn’t have an official booth on the show floor, it still made waves with the upcoming Skylanders: Imaginators, set for release this fall across various consoles. The game features the possibility of creating custom characters in the game, an innovative touch for the Skylanders brand that gives it a great deal of longevity.
Activision also revealed a nostalgic boost for the game by announcing the debut of Crash Bandicoot in Skylanders. Crash was an iconic character for Sony back in the ’90s, appearing in a trio of platforming games for the Sony PlayStation, along with spin-offs like Crash Bash and Crash Kart Racing. His return will assuredly bring in plenty of retro players to Skylanders. There is no release date for the character, but he’s expected to appear sometime withing Skylanders’ launch period.
Skylanders ties in with a much bigger picture, as Activision revealed this morning that the previously announced animated series, Skylanders Academy, will be premiering this fall on Netflix. The toys-to-life game and show will no doubt have plenty of cross-promotional support.
“Over the last five years, millions of families around the world have welcomed Skylanders characters into their homes. Now, they’ll be able to watch their favorite characters come to life on Netflix,” said Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard. “We couldn’t have found a better home for ‘Skylanders Academy‘ and look forward to sharing our extraordinary characters with Netflix audiences around the world.”
“‘Skylanders Academy‘ gives us the opportunity to approach narrative storytelling with the same level of quality and excellence that millions of Skylanders fans have come to expect from the game,” said Activision Blizzard Studios co-president Stacey Sher. “We’re inspired by our fans’ excitement for these characters and have worked hard to bring these characters to life with stories our fans will love.”
Warner Bros. opted to take a different route with Lego Dimensions. Instead of releasing annual installments of the toys-to-life game, requiring customers to purchase newer editions, it has instead opted to extend its current Lego Dimension line with more playsets inspired by popular franchises including the new Ghostbusters film, Mission: Impossible, Lego Harry Potter and others. The trailer below provides a great idea of what’s coming.
But Warner Bros. isn’t limiting itself to recent franchises. The company is also taking advantage of nostalgia by reaching into its film and TV archives and releasing Lego Dimensions sets based on popular ’80s franchises. These include The A-Team and Knight Rider—two TV shows that were big hits over 30 years ago—along with iconic films such as The Goonies (with the character Sloth) and Gremlins, featuring Gizmo the Mogwai. Both of these characters are featured on large banners in the show hall, evoking fond memories of these classics.
Lego Dimensions Season 2 will kick off sometime this fall, and will no doubt continue to bring in players that helped make the new franchise a best seller to begin with.
Even with Disney Infinity out of the picture, these two publishers are doing whatever it takes to keep people playing with their toys. It’s a practice that’s bound to pay off with savvy marketing and business partners, including Toys ‘R Us, which has once again signed on to partner with Activision to support Skylanders, and will likely get an exclusive line of toys when they this fall.