Friday, September 18, 2015

Q Attack, Round 20 - Are Toys-to-Life Games a Fad?

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When Skylanders first burst onto the video game scene, it seemed like the game was a novel idea but now, there are even more IPs in the Toys-to-Life genre. Rabbit has been collecting Skylanders since its first entry and now discusses with Tiger whether or not this new genre is a fad or here to stay.

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Tiger: Rabbit, what are you doing? Look at this mess.

Rabbit: What mess?

Tiger: *points* This! There are books everywhere. Why did you pull them off of the bookcases?

Rabbit: I’m reorganizing to make room for the new Skylanders figures I’ll be getting.

Tiger: Not this again, this is worse than Assassin’s Creed games coming out every year. How many figures do you have already?

Rabbit: A little over two-hundred and fifty.

Tiger *throws hands in air* Geez! And how many are coming out with the new game?

Rabbit: At least sixty, it’s hard to say since they have vehicles this time. I’m only picking up the Dark Edition on PlayStation 4 at launch though, so I won't have a lot of figures to start.

Tiger: So you’re finally not going to buy the game twice just to get all the figures?

Rabbit: Oh, no, I’ll get SuperChargers on PlayStation 3 as well; I’ll just wait until the Black Friday sale to pick it up.

Tiger: *shakes head* When is this fad going to go away?

Rabbit: Hey! I love Skylanders, I’ve been playing since Spyro’s Adventure and have picked up every game since. They are legitimately good games and they keep getting better and better. And now there are even more IPs in the Toys-to-Life genre.

Tiger: Now we have Disney Infinity, amiibo, and LEGO Dimensions. Please tell me you aren’t going to get into those too.

Rabbit: I actually thought about Disney Infinity just for the Marvel and Star Wars licenses but I’m not a fan of the figure designs. I do love the Stitch figure, but that’s about it. I’ve also played the games and I don’t like them as well as Skylanders games. As for the amiibo figures, they only work on Nintendo platforms.

Tiger: I think it’s cool that the amiibo toys will work across multiple games, not just specific ones but the crazy news about supply issues and limited functionality in games makes them sound like a pain.

Rabbit: I feel bad for the hardcore amiibo collections. If they want the exclusive figures that come bundled with the Nintendo versions of Skylanders SuperChargers, they’ll have to buy four different starter packs.

Tiger: Wait, wait, wait. Back up a minute. Four?

Rabbit: You heard me right. The WiiU starter bundle has Donkey Kong and the 3DS/Wii starter has Bowser. Then, you have to purchase both of them in the Dark Editions to get the Dark Variant of both characters. That’s almost three-hundred and fifty dollars!

Tiger: I wonder how much the figures will sell on eBay; it’s going to be crazy.

Rabbit: As for LEGO Dimensions, that one is probably the only other Toys-to-Life game I would consider getting because see’mon, it’s LEGO!

Tiger: When I saw the Portal Level Pack, I almost died.

Rabbit: That is pretty awesome but it sucks they won’t have Star Wars or Marvel since the normal LEGO sets of those franchises are awesome.

Tiger: Says the mammal who has a tub filled with Snowspeeders.

Rabbit: Aren’t you the one that told me it’s an “Incom Corporation T-47 airspeeder?”

Tiger: *shakes head*

Rabbit: Anyway, Disney put the kibosh on that when they bought the Marvel and Star Wars rights.

Tiger: I still really hate Disney for that too. They’re erasing Star Wars canon, erasing it!

Rabbit: At least we know they’ll be a part of Disney Infinity. We’ve seen Marvel already in 2.0 and Star Wars will be added with the 3.0 expansion.

Tiger: I have to hand it to Activision and the various developers of Skylanders for ensuring that all the old figures from previous games work with the newest version. Most of them even get new moves and a new level cap. Those worthless traps will even be slightly useful in SuperChargers.

Rabbit: I will admit, I hated the traps. Do you know how hard it was to collect all of them?

Tiger: We live in a backwater town; I know how hard it was for you because you made me help.

Rabbit: I had to take trips to different cities just so I could find a Toys R Us or Target in hopes of getting their exclusive traps. I bought them via eBay and Amazon for way more than they were worth. It was really hard to buy them through standard retailers because they used one SKU for the same element, no matter what the shape the trap was.

Tiger: You also roped in Eagle to help feed your addiction.

Rabbit: At least there aren’t any traps in SuperChargers, so this round of hunting will be a lot simpler.

Tiger: I don’t know, I kind of get the appeal of this genre, especially if you’re a kid but I think they’ve gotten out of hand.

Rabbit: You collect Gundam toys, what’s the difference.

Tiger: They’re called figures and they are highly detailed to-scale replicas based off of the original designs. There is your difference.

Rabbit: What about Eye of Judgment, you were all over that game when it came out.

Tiger: That was an augmented reality CCG video game. I don’t see the similarity.

Rabbit: It brought real world cards with monsters on them to life inside a video game; I think there are a lot of similarities. Plus, Skylanders isn’t just for kids. While it may be designed with younger gamers in mind, it offers a pretty robust gaming experience for anyone who plays it. The Diablo-esque style gameplay and light RPG elements makes it fun to play and leveling up characters to unlock new powers keeps the replay value high. While each of the Toys-to-Life games have their unique draws, I really think as a whole they have shown just how vibrant this genre can be.

https://www.skylanders.com/video-games/skylanders-superchargers
Tiger: Does that mean you think they’re here to stay?

Rabbit: I do think that we’ll see Toys-to-Life video games continue to evolve and expand. Right now, Skylanders is the oldest IP but Disney utilizes multiple established franchises to sell its game. amiibo offers beloved Nintendo characters that can be used in a multitude of different games and LEGO Dimensions has a strong brand to help catapult its first entry this holiday. There’s something just inherently fun about having a physical figure in your hands and then seeing it come to life on the screen. I miss the days when I used to buy toys, now I just buy discs in a box that sit on a shelf for years and years until I finally get around to playing it. With Skylanders, even when I’m not playing the game-

Tiger: You’re playing pretend with the figures?

Rabbit: ^exasperated^ That wasn’t what I was going to say, stop interrupting. I was going to say, that when a Skylander sits on my shelf, it still has character. And did I mention the games are actually fun, solid games. LEGO Dimensions is still up in the air and we haven’t experienced amiibo toys in action first-hand, but Skylanders is an awesome game and Disney Infinity has become increasingly better with each iteration. The astounding amount of sales that each of these IPs have seen are a testament that Toys-for-Life games are here to stay. If it was a fad, I don’t think Skylanders would be on its fifth entry nor would Disney Infinity be releasing 3.0. And why would LEGO Dimensions join the party if they didn’t see growth here let alone what Nintendo has been doing since they released their first amiibos. The Toys-to-Life genre is here to stay.

Tiger: Everything you said was great except you’re missing a few key points. Like how Activision releases so many different variants of the same figure as a cash grab to get the completionists like you to spend hundreds and hundreds of extra dollars for nothing. Or that while IPs like Marvel and Star Wars are cool, they’re just slapped on the box like other Disney properties to sell units. They do a huge disservice to the hardcore fan when they diminish an IP like that. Or can we mention about the supply issues Nintendo had and knew they would have just to create buzz. And that the figures never look as nice as what they show in the promotional videos and images. I’m not arguing that the games can be good and fun to play, I’m arguing against the entire business model of the Toys-to-Life genre. A few figures are neat but then there are the variants and the exclusive retailer figures. With Skylanders, you practically are forced to buy a new starter pack every game because they keep messing with the base you need to put the figures on. With starter packs ranging from seventy-five to a hundred dollars; that gets pricey real quick. Then what about the fact that while you can beat the game with the figures that are included in the starter, most of it is inaccessible until you buy the right figure. It’s gotten out of control; you have two-hundred and fifty Skylanders already! When is enough, enough?

Rabbit: How many Star Wars LCG cards do you have?

Tiger: Why does that even matter?

Rabbit: How many of the expansions have you bought?

Tiger: *stammers* Maybe half, I don’t know.

Rabbit: If Fantasy Flight turned the Star Wars LCG into an augmented video game, you’d play it, wouldn’t you? Even though you’d have to buy expansion after expansion and booster after booster.

Tiger: That’s not a fair question, these are totally different scenarios. I play the LCG game, it’s an actual game.

Rabbit: Skylanders is an actual game too.

Tiger: Well, you don’t have to buy the expansions to play the LCG.

Rabbit: And you don’t have to buy extra figures to beat Skylanders either.

Tiger: *shouts* Fine! At least my compulsive collectable game takes up less room than yours!

Are Toys-to-Life Games a Fad?

Tiger     vs     Rabbit

3 comments:

  1. I'm with Tiger. These toys-to-life games have certainly combined the thrill of interactive and physical play in a fresh way, but, Rabbit, I reckon the makers have got you, and all other completionists, on annual scavenger hunter just to line their pockets.

    I, too, was once big into toys and collectibles. I collected almost all the of Lego Bionicle series, right up to series nine (I should have got 10, too, because that was the final one of the original collection). And, during the late 90s, I was swept up by the Pokémon trading card phoneme, along with all the other kids in my town Рthings got so crazy that kids we're threatened in school over them, and I even lost a friend after he stole a set of rare cards from me. Heck, even my more recent vinyl addition has had to be scaled back hugely of late.

    Anyway, Rabbit, Tiger makes some good points. I know they make each new series appear "essential", and get your pulse going with all that glitzy advertising, but they're making you jump through so many hoops that it doesn't seem worth it. Activision and co are playing on the completionists' curse in the worse way with their ultra-expensive sets and exclusivity deals. Whatever you do, Rabbit, don't let them wring you dry of cash for essentials and, dare I say, less expensive/troublesome pleasures.

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    1. Now it's even worse that games like Skylanders and Disney Infinity seem to be annual releases, ala Assassin's Creed and CoD. That just makes the entire fad that more expensive and it's too bad that they do that to many gamers/parents since these toys-to-life games are big draws during the holidays. If they could only curb their need to make as much money as possible, this actually might be an exciting genre but now, it feels like a free-to-play MMO come to life with all the microtransaction like figures.

      -Tiger

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    2. At least you don't have to buy all the expansions to these games to enjoy them. I know many who picked up Lego Dimensions and are only focusing on the sets they're interested in. As long as you don't get sucked into the craziness of collecting everything, they're actually good games at their core. Plus, you can't say they're any different to games like Destiny with its additional expansions or the MMO pay model.

      -Rabbit

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