Opinion: Toys Will Be The Future

One of the things that’s really picked up over this generation is the sales of games via digital channels. Whilst many may prefer to get physical copies of games, it does seem that we’re moving towards a point where the majority of games will be sold without a disk. It probably won’t come in the next few years, we’ll need to see significant improvements in broadband penetration and speed first, but it is a shift that’s going to happen.

However, whilst most of the market has been shifting away from physical games, there’s one area that seems to be growing rapidly. It’s hard to really put a term on these games other to call them games that come with stuff. I’m talking about your Rock Bands and your SingStars, games like Tony Hawk’s: Ride or Skylanders. I can’t really remember a time when there was so much stuff that you need to play games, even if 99% are still fine with me having a standard controller.

Fortunately games like Rock Band or SingStar that require new types of controllers seem to be on their way out, with that craze looking like it’s basically over now. Instead it seems to have been replaced by dancing games, and they all seem pretty content using WiiMotes, Move controllers and the Kinect.

No, rather than controllers filling up your room, it’s now physical collectibles that can be integrated into the game seamlessly that are the coming thing. The most popular example of this at the moment is Skylanders, a game that’s opened up a market that Activision Blizzard had been relatively weak in before: kids games. The game itself may not be the most compelling experience on the planet, but by integrating real toys it looks like they’ve struck gold.

Of course with an idea this good, and it really is a great idea, they were bound to be others entering the market. Disney have already had some success with games in a similar vein on tablets, such as their Cars 2 AppMATes game, and it seems Disney Infinity will see them take that approach to the come consoles.

[videoyoutube]Personally I really like the core concept behind these games, and the avenues they open up. Imagine Activision bringing out a Transformers game where real figures contributed to your in game progress, or Disney pushing the technology into the next Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. That just seems hugely appealing and like it could be a lot of fun.

Hopefully the Wii U will help to drive this technology forwards, as the GamePad has Near Field Communication (NFC) technology built in. NFC is ideal for reading the requisite information from chips in toys to make this work, and we saw some of these concepts in the leaked concept video for Rayman Legends. Whilst it looks like those ideas have been dropped from the final game, the potential remains and hopefully someone will capitalise on it sooner rather than later.

I’m certainly not saying that I think these ideas will grow to dominate the industry, or even that I want them to. However, I do think that we’ll see a lot of growth in this area though, and that it may well become one of the core elements of the industry’s future. All in all I’m looking forwards to seeing what developers can come up with.

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14 Comments

  1. I really hope not: I don’t want to buy an AK-47 replica when I want to use it in my FPS games!

    • You know damn well that the kid in you is screaming for one ;)
      Counterstrike would be amazing on a 50 inch screen and an M4 in your hands.

  2. I’ve just bought the little man the Skylanders Giants starter pack and to be honest the kid in me can’t wait for Christmas. The “toys” themselves look good quality and compared to how much normal figurines for children cost, the pricing isn’t too bad. The only thing that annoys me is that it’s like having a physical form of dlc. Not entirely bad but it feels like they can now charge more because you get a toy.

    I’m all for it really, each year I have to go through his toys to chuck the ones he doesn’t use. Now these new toys can stay because they have more use.

  3. I hope not as having to buy a sword, an axe, another axe, another sword, a dagger, a staff,a scroll,armour in order to use them would be annoying as hell. I just know RPGs would abuse the toys due to the sheer amount of content. If gaming does start to focus on toys with games, it will revert our image back to gaming is for kids as well as dumbing down gaming as a whole. Imagine having to buy 100-200 toy cars for GT just to get the full experience. I don’t mind there being novelty items for games such as FF figures etc.. but making them a part of the game is where i draw the line at. Plus i can see the daily toilet paper claiming that FPS games are training kids to be terrorists due to toy guns being a part of the game.

  4. So what will Dead or Alive get me?

    *awaits perfect answer*

    • A blow up doll that is modelled after one of the female fights in the game. I’ve heard they are working on androids that look excatly like humans and will only be sold for £40. Apparently, they are forced to use Vista so some handjobs may either crash midway or get stuck in a loop.

      • Stuck in a loop wouldn’t be so bad, as long as you can slip free when you’re finished.

      • Apparently, there is a glitch that results in the grip being tighter and if you struggle, it gets even more tighter.

    • My thoughts exactly, a “Flashlight” maybe.

    • A divorce.

  5. How about dual shock controllers…Now there the future!

  6. It’s a fad in 5 years time everyone will be talking about ‘where it all went wrong’.

    File it under ‘gaming fad’ with Guitar Hero.

  7. I’ve been playing Skylanders Giants since launch with my 4 year old and he loves it. He’s made me buy 14 figurines by now and I’ve ordered the first game as well.

    It’s his second (after Castle Crashers) gaming experience & it’s great to introduce him into the gaming world.

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