Is Toys-to-Life Dead? Activision CEO Says No

It doesn’t take much to see that the toys-to-life craze that exploded onto the gaming scene a number of years ago has slowed down considerably—some might say it finally imploded, with the market becoming oversaturated and consumers tiring of the massive amounts of plastic they were spending their hard-earned dollars on.

Looking at the shelves, we see that Disney Infinity is permanently gone, LEGO Dimensions has slowed its frantic pace of adding new franchises, Skylanders feels stagnant, and even Nintendo’s amiibo releases are far and few between, compared to what they were when the series first launched.

Activision’s Skylanders games were the first to enter the market, pioneering the concept, and although one might wonder if that could hurt them in terms of player fatigue, CEO Eric Hirshberg of Activision has gone on record with Games Industry to state that he doesn’t see an end to the Skylanders series at this point in time.

“I never thought [toys-to-life] was dead, I just thought it was overcrowded. There was an imbalance between supply and demand. I think at one point there was a couple of hundred linear feet of shelf space in stores featuring toys-to-life games from four of the biggest marketers of kids IP in the world.

A new market had been created with Skylanders. It was a way of making toys relevant to 21st century kids, who are interactive entertainment consumers in their DNA. And so, on one level, it wasn’t surprising to see that rush into the genre. But it certainly did create a more difficult macro environment. Skylanders… we’re still behind it. We have supported [last year’s game] Imaginators with expansion packs in the way that we didn’t with previous games. We have a great Skylanders TV series on Netflix. We have a mobile game in development that we are very excited about. And we are going to see what the right way is to continue to invest in it.

What I know is that people love those characters and that world, there’s nothing broken about the franchise. It just became a little bit more different as a business proposition with all that competition. We shall see how it plays out.”

The optimism in his statements may seem surprising, given the current state of the market, but just maybe Activision will be the last man standing in this race. It also sounds like the nature of the Skylanders series may shift, but they don’t plan on abandoning it anytime soon.


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Author: Micah View all posts by
Micah has been playing games since his first pong machine, and has been writing for as long as he could grip a pencil and not drool on the paper. So, for about a week.

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