Prepare yourselves, parents and retailers – the great interactive toy/game market is about to expand. Big time.
With the holiday season fast approaching, three new games will be entering the market that feature interactivity with real-time portals and toys, enabling kids and adults alike to implement their favorite characters into video games. Activision will (literally) hit the road with its forthcoming Skylanders: Superchargers; WB Games will jump into the market with its character-laden Lego Dimensions; and Disney will once again bring back its Disney Infinity franchise, this time with a Star Wars twist (along with Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out and Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron).
On top of that, Nintendo’s line of interactive Amiibo toys has proven to be a huge financial success as well, with some fetching hundreds of dollars on eBay and various others being introduced over the next few months, including a limited edition Super Mario Maker figurine resembling the 8-bit Mario from the original Super Mario Bros.
Industry consultant Andy Robertson recently took a closer look at this market for VentureBeat, providing his analysis on what companies can expect in terms of results. “Throughout, the dividing lines between toys, video games and outside play are being rewritten,” he explained. “This year’s crop further tweaks the balance between costs and benefits to players, as each jostles for position in an increasingly crowded genre.”
With Skylanders, Robertson noted the helpful backward compatibility with previous toys, along with the value of purchasing vehicles alongside characters. “The vehicles are each articulated and come with matching drivers,” he noted. “Although the figurines don’t fit in the physical vehicles as they do on the screen, by doing away with the need for a circular stand, the toys are instantly more fun to play with.” He also praised that the series would be returning to the Wii platform, even though it’s considered discontinued on the market.
Regarding Disney Infinity 3.0, Robertson talked about the various developers on board the project (including Sumo Digital and Ninja Theory), tweaking individual parts of the game so they work properly. But the real key The return of the creative Toy Box mode. “While families may find it frustrating that only certain characters can be used in certain playset adventures, they can combine any and all of them in the game creator mode,” he noted. He also noted the helpful availability of a digital version, in case people already own a previous Infinity Base from another edition of the game.
With Lego Dimensions, Robertson noted a bit of challenge between high price and being new to the market, although various popular franchises like Doctor Who and Ghostbusters will draw in fans. He also noted how great it is to play some content without the need for certain figures. “It still has plenty of on-disc content you need toys to access, but you can at least play a portion of each included brand without additional purchases,” he said. Being able to build your own toys via Lego blocks included in the set is a smart move as well.
Finally, with Amiibos, Robertson noted some frustrations with the market over the lacking availability of some figures, but also stated that they’re easy to use with both the Wii U and New Nintendo 3DS systems. In addition, a team-up with Activision for the Nintendo versions of Skylanders: Superchargers is a smart move, as both the special Bowser and Donkey Kong figures for those games can be used either as Skylander or Amiibo purposes. That said, there are still struggles to overcome, mostly with availability.
The full report can be found here.
As far as the boom of the interactive toy/game market, vice president of Skylanders Josh Taub spoke to MCV, explaining “We are thrilled to have created a category that is now $4 billion over the last almost four years – we represent north of $3 billion of that.”
He also noted, “We have a responsibility in quality of gameplay, toy and experience that is unmatched anywhere in the market, and that is why we think our fans stay with us – along with the fact that each year we create original, innovative experiences with new character sets.”
We’ll see where loyalty lies when all four games launch over the course of the next few months…