If you follow the toys-to-life space there has been lots of change this year.
Not only has Disney pulled the plug on Infinity but a number of up and coming products are snapping at the big incumbent’s heels — Infinite Arms and Anki to name a couple.
Skylanders Battlecast, along with just announced Imaginators and an upcoming TV show, is testament to the ongoing commitment from Activison in its line of smart toys. Battlecast is different though, its a mobile game that combines a card collecting battle game with the Skylanders characters.
Players purchase the cards via blind packs that are then scanned into the app to create a team deck to take into battles. While the cards themselves don’t have a physical game, they are beautifully drawn and certainly collectible for fans of the series.
The game itself offers a story mode campaign or online multiplayer option. Either way players pick their cards and then use them in turn to defeat different enemies. At first it seems like a kid-ified version of Hearthstone but on closer inspection there is much more going on. In fact, getting my eight year old on the game I was impressed to see he found it quite a challenge.
For toy retailers Battlecast is also interesting because it offers an easy way in to carrying Skylanders products without the need for huge amounts of shelf space. Any store that is able to have an iPad to hand to demonstrate the game and a good stock of cards to sell will do well with my kids.
I’ve worked with Activsion to set up a few families with the game and have been impressed with the results throughout. Both in terms of the depth of strategy required by young players as well as the appeal for families to engage in the game together, it’s gone down well.
The only niggle to date is the disparity between online and physical prices of cards. Currently online packs are cheaper than physical ones. This seems fair as wit the real cards you have the collectible angle too, but care needs to be taken in communicating this to parents.
My kids particularly like the free spin goes each day that can earn you points and cards. In fact without spending very much on the game at all we’ve had a really good time with it.
Provided that Activision keep the line fresh with more cards and game-play evolution this could be the start of a really strong game for the Skylanders brand.