The “Skylanders” model of collectible toys sold with video games proved to be highly successful for Activision with $500 million in revenue for the franchise in 2012 in the United States alone. Disney jumped in the game Tuesday with the reveal of “Disney Infinity” for the PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U, Wii and Nintendo 3DS. That just leaves one question. How did Nintendo miss making the same move for its multitude of franchises or even just Pokemon alone?
“Disney Infinity” uses the “Skylanders” approach of collectible toy figurines sold individually or in sets of three that can be placed on “portals” where they will appear in game. The Disney game goes further though by adding Play Sets that can be purchased and used in-game as well as blind packs featuring random items and customizations that can be used in the game such as Pixar’s unofficial mascot, the blue and yellow ball with the star.
Since the Nintendo announcement where the developers showed off the Near Field Communication (NFC) tech in the Wii U GamePad, I’ve been thinking Nintendo would be crazy not to announce a game with a “Skylanders” type model for Pokemon alone. The “Gotta Catch’em All” slogan becomes even more potent when incorporated into a Wii U game that uses figurines or even the still popular trading card game.
I can’t help but think the same collectible adventure model could be used on the entirety of Nintendo’s franchises including Mario, Donkey Kong, Zelda, Kirby, etc. If the game developer really wanted to get bold, it could go in this direction with the next “Super Smash Bros.” title complete with additional booster items.
Yeah, I can see complaints with adding a collectible toy mode with an existing franchise like “Super Smash Bros.” However, I’m really just trying to make the point that Nintendo is leaving money on the table when it comes to the possibilities of using the collectible toy video game model. I have the sense that the company is already stretched thin with the launch of the Wii U, supporting the 3DS and making the games it is expected to make. There’s an opportunity that is being missed here unless the company has something up its sleeve for E3. The problem is, it will face two competitors in this niche market now instead of just one.