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Mattel’s Hot Wheels Infinite Loop mobile game will draw older fans back to the brand

Mattel’s digital arm is looking to tap into the collectors market with the launch of its first over 16s mobile title, Hot Wheels Infinite Loop, a game that – hopes the firm – will draw nostalgic fans back to the physical toy range.

Mattel Creative has spent the past 18 months developing the free-to-play mobile game, based on its sales-leading Hot Wheels franchise, that will launch exclusively on the Apple Store this Thursday.

Aimed solely at the over 16s market and incorporating ‘all traditional monetisation mechanics’ of free-to-play games, including in-app purchasing and ad-based rewards, Infinite Loop will bring characters and cars from the real world Hot Wheels universe into digital gaming for the first time.

It marks a first for the global toymaker who believes the title will help it plug a gap in the current market.

“We constantly have new toy players who are kids, we have half a billion of them a year, so we have that solved,” Mattel’s head of digital, Andrew Chan told ToyNews. 

“On the games side, and on the nostalgic side for people who grew up with Hot Wheels like us, there’s not much on digital to experience in the way we like to play games: multi-player, action-based, competitive games with progression. We wanted to fill that gap.”

Already, Mattel has plans for marketing the launch to draw an older audience into a franchise traditionally aligned with the younger market. This will include paid user acquisition upon which a community can be built and strengthened.

“We know we have a captive base that is currently playing Forza, currently playing Rocket League, so we know there is an audience there already,” said Chan. 

“When the game goes live, that is when the hard work starts. Alongside with our mobile developer, Creative Mobile, there will be updates to the game with new cars and new gam modes being updated almost every other week. We are excited for the launch, but this is the beginning of the evolution of the product.”

Despite the concerted effort by Mattel to tap into the older Hot Wheels fan base, the firm remains adamant that its kids’ business will remain core. Its Barbie Dream House game continues to grow month-on-month and Chan has been vocal about Mattel’s plans for new markets in the kids’ sector, including learning and development.

“People are adopting more to the model that it is OK to learn digitally, it’s OK to learn through subscription businesses or area driven elements, and we want to be part of that story, too,” said Chan.

“We may not be in the business of hiring or building out a game development studio today, but we would love to get there. For now, we are working with the best-in-class partners in the kids’ space, in the all-ages space, and then across our brands.”

Emerging platforms Mattel is keen to take its wealth of IP into include the streaming space, whether that’s Google, HTML5 Facebook, and even Alexa. 

“We really like those spaces, we want to be everywhere; so we will be licensing our brands to people who have done things in those spaces, all the while building our franchises n PC, console, and mobile. This will be a new frontier for the company,” Chan detailed.

“We are seeing physical and digital colliding, and at a faster rate. And as those worlds collide, you start thinking: How do you make a culture where both of those can thrive? That is what we are trying to do at Mattel.”

On the topic of the ever decreasing gap between physical and digital play, Chan is confident that Mattel can be seen as a leader, particularly following the launch of its Hot Wheels id, an AR and NFC-infused set that brings toys and video gaming one step closer together.

“Some one is going to make a product where you don’t even know you’re doing a physical-digital product. No one had to tell you to scan your car, no one had to tell you you had to do something, you are just doing it,” he said.

“That’s when someone has cracked that product, when it is seamless – and I hope it is Mattel.”

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