Thursday, April 12, 2012

Can Skylanders Be A Pokemon Phenomena?

Skylanders was a sleeper video game hit of the 2011 Christmas Season and it could be a pretty good North American franchise that could do well everywhere.  Activision did a great job of producing this game and the toys that play an integral role within the video game.  If you have children, younger siblings, work in a toy store or video game store, or just like video games with very nicely made figures, you have probably heard about Skylanders.
Skylanders / Tostzilla
If you have been collecting these Skylanders figures you probably have also experienced great frustration as you couldn't buy most of the 30 figures, as they were always sold out for months.  You can complete the game with just the three starter figures that come with the game, but the extra figures add variety and depth to the game.  Well, at the least the figure drought seems to be over as some container ships from China must have arrived in North America and stock seems to be showing up regularly.  The ridiculous EBAY prices have had their day as the figures were selling for 3x their retail value or more.

"A video game with figures?" you say.  "So what?"  When I first saw it I would have to say I had the same sentiment, but seeing the game in action changed my mind.
  1. First of all, the figures are nicely made - much nicer than most mass produced toys (they would look good even by Japanese standards of figure quality).
  2. The Portal of Power thingy you put the figures on to get them in the game works like a charm, and changes color.  The wireless connection to the XBOX, PC, PS3, 3DS, WII works great.  Figures are easily swapped in and out of game and it plays very well with 2 player COOP.
  3. The game is fun and Kaos the bad guy is hilarious. Kids absolutely love this game!
  4. Each of the figures has different abilities and strengths representing one of the 8 elements.  Death is an element? Huh?  
  5. Game is nicely rendered with indestructably flammable sheep.  Very cool.

So now to the title of this little blog post.  The popularity of this game could be multiplied out if there was enough cross marketing like for a Japanese game title.  For example, the original Pokemon Games Blue and Red for the black/white Gameboy was very popular and only became more popular after the collectible card game was introduced.  They have manga, anime, movies, and more games and merchandise that you could collect in a lifetime.  See my blog post on the Pokemon Store for more details about merchandise.

So Skylanders is a growing franchise too, with the Giants expansion (a new game with overgrown Skylanders) that I'll play in the fall.  They just need to crank up the tie-ins and do the turning Japan-esa thing like the song from the vapours.  I wonder if it will ever get that popular, but I would think it has a shot.  I'd sure like to see a full Skylanders movie.  BTW, does anyone know how well this game is doing in asia, particularly Japan?

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