Coffee Talk #414: Skylanders — Brilliant, Evil, or Both?
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I’ve started playing Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventures for a Machinima.com review. I’m completely fascinated by the Skylanders business model. For those of you not familiar with the deal, Skylanders is an action-RPG available for most videogame systems. What makes it unique is that it uses toys to enhance and unlock gameplay. The $69.99 starter kit comes with the game, the “Portal of Power” accessory that plugs into your console, and three action figures. Additional action figures can be purchased for $7.99 and up.
Now here’s the kicker: from what I’ve seen, you have to buy more toys to get everything out of the game. That’s brilliant…and possibly a little evil. So far, the game is surprisingly fun; I had low expectations for it and they have been greatly exceeded. The toys look cool. On their own, I’m not sure they’re worth $8 each or $20 for a three-pack, but considering that they unlock in-game features, they’re pragmatic as well as decorative. There are more than 30 toys, with more action figures and DLC on the way, so it’s entirely possible to spend hundreds of dollars on Skylanders…and I’m sure some kids will do just that.
Fascinating, hey? I’m not really sure what kids and tweens like these days, but I imagine Skylanders is going to be hugely popular this holiday season. While most of the videogame business has been focusing on DLC and $10 online solutions to make more money of off each title, Activision is probably going to strike gold with
dollies action figures. If this game does well, can you imagine a Transformers, Pokemon, or Disney game using a similar business model? This dolly thing could be huge…and more than a little exploitative.
Anyway, I wanted to see what you thought about Skylanders and its business model. Is Skylanders brilliant, evil, or both?!?