Activision uncovered a goldmine. Despite Skylanders being introduced at a time when in-game purchases and downloadable content were shadier than ever, it still managed to convince people to spend a bunch of money on Skylanders figurines. There’s no technical reason why Skylanders can’t work without physical toys, but including them was a clever way to turn a $60 game into something players would continuously invest in. Since the introduction of Skylanders, we’ve seen similar products come into existence such as Pokemon Rumble U, Disney Infinity and even Angry Birds Star Wars II with its optional Telepods accessories. To me, there’s one other brand that can potentially hit a home run by implementing NFC/RFID figures into a game. I’m talking about the second biggest toy company in the world – LEGO.
LEGO already has an in with the video game industry. LEGO Batman, LEGO Lord of the Rings, LEGO Harry Potter and LEGO City Undercover are just a few examples of LEGO’s successes in the video game world. However, LEGO thrives as a maker of toys. It has managed to retain a huge number of dedicated fans of all ages. Kids are the main demographic, but there are also adult fans of LEGO (known as AFOLS) who love collecting sets and minifigures. If LEGO were to make a Skylanders-like game, the minifigures are what it would use to sell it.
LEGO fans (especially AFOLS) LOVE unique minifigures. Some people buy complete sets just to get the minifgures. LEGO knows this, and often gives away limited edition minifigures at LEGO stores and its website for those who spend $75 or more. LEGO’s series of collectible minifgures also do very well at retail for around $3 each. There are also books and movies that contain exclusive minifigures as well. If LEGO capitalized on the high demand for minifigures and incorporated that into a fun game, it can make a lot of money.
LEGO could take a page from Skylanders Swap Force and allow minifigures to be customized in the game just like they can in real life. There should also be a Disney Infinity-like sandbox mode where you can build whatever you want using virtual bricks. Yes, I know all these features “borrow” from other games, but these features are also the core of what makes LEGO so successful. When you’re done playing with the figures, they could still be utilized as normal minifigures. Everybody wins, and collectors won’t have to worry about throwing the minifigures into a box when they’re not playing the game anymore. They’ll merely join the rest of the collection.
This is something LEGO should definitely take advantage of. The brand is hot, and there’s no better time to enter the NFC toy market.
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