Microsoft Kinect did an awesome job of making indoor play a physical sport. Nintendo rocked the world when it let kids take their favorite games with them. With video game sales down this holiday, the new object of the game is a seamless play, one that goes with you wherever you are in all sorts of manifestations.
Skylanders Gen II: When I saw Activision’s Skylanders a year ago, it had all the makings of a crap shoot – a new technology that involved a solid state game piece combined with a complicated storyline. Even Spyro, the main character, wasn’t part of the title. And yet, here we are one year later, and I’m eating a bit of crow: Skylanders is a runaway hit.
The sequel is here and it’s big. There are eight new figures in a super-sized format and 12 new creatures in the original format. These giants have giant powers, too. New chapters of the Skylanders story, light radiating from the toys as they near their portal destinations, and a variety of handheld and mobile apps versions make this new Skylanders a larger franchise than ever.
Hasbro Meets Zynga: There’s a certain sensibility that the folks who brought you Monopoly and Scrabble would look to the future by partnering with Zynga, the makers of popular virtual games like Farmville and Words with Friends. Hasbro is literally betting the “farmville” that you’ll want your favs with you in a variety of mediums. You should be seeing everything from board games to toys based on Farmville, Cityville and Words with Friends. Angry Birds from Rovio has enjoyed great success with a growing line of real world toys and I expect Hasbro/Zynga to do the same. (Ironically, these games tend to be played by young adults, and not kids, since they orginate on Facebook but as we’ve learned, few parents and tweens observe the +13 age requirement on Facebook)
The Brobos: Other new entertainment properties are starting out the gate across multiple platforms. Brobo is a children’s entertainment property for preschoolers. The concept involves a series of YouTube videos centered around flying Brobos that teach basic counting, reading and other skills. Product companions include lightup Brobo nightlights that turn on when you tap their hands to their hearts. Naturally each Brobo has their own personality from dirt-loving Dogs to pizza-loving Trex.
Nukotoys is one of the more artistically arresting products I’ve seen recently. It’s got all the elements of a winner, mixing trading cards with an app-based game. Set to ship this spring, the game Monsterology is based on the bestselling Ology book series, a set of illustrated fantasy books presented in a fictional encyclopedic format. Dragons, Sea Serpents and other stuff that kids dreams about are all cataloged in great detail. Nukotoys faithfully takes the book as its starting point, moves the play to the iPad and iPhone and creates a collectible card game with a turn-based strategy game. Built for kids ages 7+ the game comes with 100 cards consisting of 75 creatures plus 25 traps and magic elements. To play you tap your card against the surface of your iOS device and immerse yourself in a world that has elements of Risk and Chess. You can invite other players to collect, train, trade, and play in a quest, ultimately becoming a “Master Monsterologist”. This one could transcend gender and age and become a classic play for a digital world. The company is also launching a game based on Animal Planet which lets younger kids use trading cards to unlock animal life on the African Serengeti.
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