Namco Bandai's UK marketing and PR director Lee Kirton reveals all to ToyNews
What makes Tekken Card Tournament stand out from other physical trading card games within the toy and game markets?
This is not just only a free-to-play battle game with huge development investment, but a cross-media game with physical cards, superb Augmented-Reality features which will have you experimenting for months, a unique QR feature allowing you to scan your cards directly into game, online functions, community in-game features, and worldwide tournaments.
The unique QR function in-game will allow your digital game to become your collector hub for all your cards. And the unique features of the physical cards being linked with the digital game is an instant stand out feature.
There is a limited 'rule set' to the actual physical cards like traditonal trading card games, so they be played physically in addition to digitally.
What about other physical-digital bridge products like Skylanders and Disney Infinity? How does it differ from them?
That’s a great question. Skylanders has proved an incredible success. I am very excited by the prospect of what Disney are working on with Infinity and they have a great catalogue of dream characters to experiment with. I think kids are going to go nuts for this.
Tekken Card Tournament is focused on the free-to-play market across many different age groups and fan bases. It will obviously have some pay functions but you can play the whole game for free without parting with any money.
The fact that you’ll be able to buy a pack of five cards and scan them into the game for additional powers etc sets us aside from other games. Our focus is on the tablet, smart phone and web browser formats at present.
How are you reaching out to toy retailers?
We are working closely with our partners at Bandai and they will support us over the coming months. We also have a presence at The Toy Fair and upcoming events.
All retailers will take priority, from indies, newsagents, specialist stores and online.
What pricing are you looking at? What margins can retailers expect?
Pricing is still being discussed and will be communicated externally. Obviously we will price competitively and be in line to make it a worthy purchase and addition to the digital experience.
Who is this aimed at? Kids, Tekken fans, newcomers or all of the above?
We are aiming this title at a wide range of audience, obviously fans of the series which is the ‘most successful series in the fighting genre’, fans of martial arts, fans of card games, fans of online multiplayer, kids, 18-35s, and casual smartphone gamers. Because of the free-to-play nature of the game and success of great quality games in this arena, we believe we have something very special and addictive.
How will you reach this audience?
We are working closely with the toy market. Our friends at Bandai and discovering new areas of communication and relations in the physical card market. We are very lucky to have built up a huge fan base with the Tekken series over 10 years and through our social networking, community, events, PR, presentations and work internally we believe we can do a fantastic job of getting everyone playing this game.
What lessons/inspirations have you taken from other card battling games? And from other free-to-play/browser games?
The potential business in this genre is huge, but we understand how some people consume their games today. We want this to be sticky and competitive, but also social. I play a game called High Noon on iOS and I’ve been addicted to this for two years and this has the same feeling of ‘must have another game’, ‘must get my level up’ and ‘must create a new deck of cards to take into battle’. The potential of this experience is huge. The game and functions are quite unique and it’s packed full of content.
Why the staggered launch between game (out in the next few weeks) and physical cards (out this spring)?
We want to install, educate, create a fanbase and communicate this game properly. You don’t need to buy the physical cards to have fun, build your character level and play, but the cards will allow additional extras. Maybe not enough work and effort is put into the communication of a smart phone free-to-play games currently. That is about to change with this launch. Once phase one is in full flow, then we launch our second phase with the physical cards. This gives the game a whole new level of interactivity. It’s key for us to maximise the fanbase and players prior to launching the actual cards.
Why should retailers stock the physical cards? How will they benefit? How will consumers benefit?
Consumers will benefit by buying physical cards to unlock some rare cards and special characters in-game, special power cards, and also collectable cards. The latter will only be available in the physical packs. The AR function allows you to beam a character directly out of the card and show it off anywhere and take a photo with a funny, cool, dramatic pose before sharing it on social networking sites.
Retailers will benefit from the install base of this free-to-play game and then need for the demand of physical cards.
Why is cross platform play important?
There is a decline in the trading card market, but with cross format play this can change. Everyone’s looking for that something special that they can touch, see, feel in their hands physically no matter how digital the world becomes. This gives you that opportunity across all formats… You can challenge any where, any time on any device.
The line between toys and games has blurred thanks to products like this. How far do you see this trend going?
We are a global entertainment company. Namco Bandai Games and the Group are involved in all forms of entertainment so we have experience across games, toys, digital, movie, animation, trading cards, coin-op and we are just trying to being unique experiences for the markets and fan bases we know well. With Tekken Card Tournament, it’s new for us, but we will inject passion, drive and experience into it to deliver some thing we want to for an exciting market.
How are you going to build this property in the long-term? What are the long-term objectives?
We will be focusing on this game daily in all areas, and new additions, updates, characters and obvious events, communication, PR, community will continue for as long as we can. This is not your typical video game launch, we will be focusing on this for a long time.
Could other Namco IP be integrated into this? Could this model be used for other Namco IP?
The world is our oyster so to speak and we have a great portfolio and licences in our hands. Let’s see what happens.
How are you marketing this?
In the UK we plan to create some ‘Tekken Street teams’ who will go out and showcase the game in key areas around the country. We will create some community events where players can get together and play in the same room. We have the fantastic Funscape (Namco Station) in London and we plan to run some gatherings there. We will advertise, we will be very vocal and challenging on the social networks.
I personally want to challenge any UK player to a game daily, as does our whole team. Try and beat Namco Bandai UK! We will focus on toy retailers working with our partners at Bandai, games retailers, independent newsagents, stunts, PR, and of course the sharing of this experience via social networks. We are going to go for it in a big way.
Can you see we are excited by this?
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