LEGO’s throwing its pointy little hat into the toy/game hybrid ring with LEGO Dimensions, which is being produced by a partnership between Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, TT Games and The LEGO Group. The game merges physical LEGO brick building with interactive console game play along with a myriad of characters from the many classic film properties in the Warner Bros. library. It looks like a serious competitor to the likes of Activision’s Skylanders and Disney Infinity.
“When kids play with LEGO bricks, they build beyond the singular brands, intermixing all of their favorite characters and universes, and we have come up with a way for players to experience that in games,” said Jon Burton, Founder and Creative Director, TT Games. “Now for the first time in a videogame, LEGO fans can play in the virtual world and in the real world – combining everything without restrictions. Imagine putting LEGO Gollum from The Lord of the Rings behind the wheel of the LEGO DeLorean Time Machine in New Ninjago City – the creative play is endless.”
The game is arriving September 27 this year for Xbox 360, Xbox One, Playstation 3, PlayStation 4, and the Wii U. The Starter Pack will include the LEGo Toy Pad (which allows players to transport special LEGo minifigures and other objects into the game), bricks to build the LEGO Gateway, three minifigures, including LEGO Batman from DC Comics, LEGO Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings and Wyldstyle from The LEGO Movie, plus the LEGO Batmobile.
Of course, more packs are on the way, drawing on such well-known brands as Back to the Future, Lord of the Rings, DC Comics, and The Wizard of Oz. Clearly LEGO is hoping for some of the brand magic to rub off, in the same way that Disney Infinity has capitalized on the multitude of iconic characters and movies that Disney controls. What remains to be seen is how much marketing effort goes into this product line, especially at the crucially important retail level. Both Activision and Disney have invested heavily in store displays that feature interactive capability to try out the hybrid toys, and certainly that’s been an important factor in the success of both of the product lines.There’s also the issue of retail signage, and the sheer amount of shelf space commanded by the large product lines both Activision and Disney already possess. Of course, LEGO starts with a strong relationship with major retail chains and great shelf position already – will the company leverage this for LEGO Dimensions That seems like smart marketing and a likely outcome.
The battle for the increasingly valuable toy-game hybrid market is only going to intensify this Christmas. Don’t forget that Nintendo will certainly have even more new Amiibos, as well as new compatible video games, to compete for retail attention and consumer dollars. This category is already in the billions of dollars, and thus you can expect the marketing battle to be an intense one.