As long as Activision has been making Skylanders games, E3 attendees have known that stopping by the Skylanders demo stations or making a meeting will result in the acquisition of a special, limited edition, E3 figure. Usually, at said presentations, people have some semblance of decency and go to the trouble of at least Googling the game they’re going to see. Usually, being the operative word. It was clear as I sat at my 10am Skylanders Trap Team appointment that the other people in my room were in it for the swag.
Which, I must admit, completely and utterly frustrated me. I had scheduled a Skylanders Trap Team appointment because I enjoy the series and relished the chance to actually ask the Toys for Bob and Activision employees questions after the demonstration. I had hoped for a good group, because any good journalist in this situation knows that sometimes another person may think of an awesome question you didn’t even consider, which can lead to your ensuing article being more solid.
I didn’t get that with the Skylanders Trap Team session. To preface this retelling of the account, I must point out that the representatives on hand pointed out that this is a game that comes in a starter kit and is coming to every console on the market now available. Which naturally made it so surprising that the first question one of my fellow journalists asked was, “How do I get that thing for the figures so I can play the game?”
I know my jaw dropped. We’d just heard, not 15 minutes earlier, the Toys for Bob representative playing the game identify the platform as the Portal of Power. The Activision representative had clearly said that it was available in a starter Kit. It was disheartening, to be sure.
Yet, it got worse. The man’s follow-up question was, “What systems will it be on?” I suppose this is more forgivable, since neither of the men responsible for the Skylanders Trap Team presentation initially mentioned the 3DS installment. Still, the fact that people couldn’t even check Amazon before coming in was upsetting. Clearly, the people around me weren’t paying attention.
The third question was just as bad. Despite the fact that the Skylanders series is clearly a title that relies on physical figures, a woman in the row in front of me asked a rambling question. She kept asking how the game works if someone wants to go all digital with Skylanders Trap Team. I was able to see the face of the Activision producer when she posed this question, and I’ve never seen such a look of stunned confusion. He tried to explain to her that it was only available in a physical copy, in a starter kit that included the disc, Portal, two figures, and two traps, but she didn’t seem to be getting it. I’d almost say she was combative, as she kept insisting that people preferred digital downloads and asking how Activision was accommodating that.
I suppose a part of me should have been thankful. It made my question, where I asked if Activision would consider making non-NFC figures of the NPC characters like Flynn and Persephone for children who enjoy playing with the toys outside of the game, seem brilliant. (They don’t have any plans at the moment that they can talk about.) Though really, I was mostly sad. Prior to taking my question, the Activision representative said it would be the last one for this group. I suspect it was because it had been made clear that of the five people watching, at least half were there just to get the E3 2014 exclusive Life Trap with a Riot Shield Shredder inside.
As I exited the presentation, I found myself apologizing to the representative who was handing me my Skylanders Trap Team swag. I even said I didn’t need the Life Trap or the t-shirt. She smiled, said that situations like that had been happening ever since the Chrome Spyro of E3 2012, and insisted I take the two gifts anyway. So, I did, but decided that I would not only write an article talking about what it was like to play Skylanders Trap Team at E3 2014, but also about the way people act in the name of nabbing potentially valuable swag.