The 'three ages' of digital integration between toys and video games

Don Whiteford

By Don Whiteford

September 23rd 2015 at 11:40AM
UPDATED September 23rd 2015 at 12:09PM
The 'three ages' of digital integration between toys and video games

Nomad Games MD Don Whiteford explains how the lines between traditional toys and video games are blurring, and why it's for the good of both sectors.

While there are plenty of examples of toy brands moving into the digital medium, new collaborations between forward-thinking businesses in both sectors is creating lucrative new commercial opportunities.

These new collaborations between the two markets has evolved via three ages of integration, namely:-

Branded Playtime: Where video games are based on the toy IP (intellectual property) and create a new experience or portrayal; e.g. Hot Wheels, Action Man, Bratz, Transformers and LEGO themed adventures. This has been happening for a very long time.

Crossover Playtime: Where a physical product has a digital equivalent that essentially does the same thing; e.g. LEGO and Minecraft. This is a more recent development and is particularly obvious in the category of board, card and dice games, where the portability of mobile devices has stimulated the genre.

Augmented Playtime: Where a technology toy and a video game work together; e.g. Amiibo and Skylanders. This is an emerging development and is typified by physical characters being used as ‘keys’ to unlock experiences in video games.

From a toy-maker’s perspective, crossover and augmented playtime are the most fertile areas for creativity.

In both cases the physical and virtual play value can exist independently, but when brought together can create a new experience. With crossover products we have anecdotal evidence that a digital version of a game boosts sales of the physical equivalent.

Nomad Games is now looking to extend its portfolio by taking other card and board games to digital formats through licensing agreements with both established brands and board game inventors.