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Ubisoft scouts kids licenses to feed Wii
January 1, 2007

Ubisoft scouts kids licenses to feed Wii

In 2006, French video game publishing giant Ubisoft stepped up its presence in the kids space, releasing games based on Sony’s CGI film Open Season on nine platforms, as well as new titles in support of its own properties, Rayman and Petz. According to worldwide licensing director Christian Salomon, the current plan is to continue to expand the kids offering, and he’s looking for solid licensing prospects from TV or film for 2008/2009 releases.

Why the focus on kids right now? Salomon says Ubisoft sees a lot of potential in Nintendo’s family-oriented Wii console. North American consumers alone snapped up 600,000 units in Wii’s first six days on the market this past November, and at roughly US$249 apiece, its family-friendly price may trump competitors Xbox 360 and PS3 in this demo. Additionally, there’s still life in the PS2 console when it comes to kid-oriented games, and Salomon says Ubisoft will continue to publish for the platform for the next two years. The company’s next big kids release, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, will be timed to get the most out of the March 23 debut of the CGI flick it’s based on.

DIC lassos licensees for Horseland

L.A.’s DIC Entertainment has corralled a stable of partners for its equine property Horseland, which the company trotted out for the first time at Licensing Show 2006. The TV series currently airs on DIC/KOL’s Saturday morning CBS block, and the merch rollout planned for fall 2007 hits all the key categories for the girls six to 12 demo. Look for Thinkway Toys (master toy), HarperCollins (publishing), Jerry Leigh (apparel), American Marketing Enterprises (sleepwear), Fast Forward (bags, backpacks) and Hanes Brands (underwear) to gallop into mass retail with equestrian-themed product.

In another merch move, DIC has just inked a first-look deal with Coral Spring, Florida’s Alliance Entertainment for North American home entertainment and non-exclusive digital distribution rights. Under the agreement, Alliance has first dibs on new titles such as Horseland, as well as older programs from DIC’s library.

LIMA throws a good party, eh?

In the first of what it hopes will be an annual event, industry org LIMA held a networking party last month in Toronto to help its Canuck members kick off the festive season in style. Hors d’ouevres and shop talk spilled out of the swank Park Hyatt rooftop bar as LIMA president Charles Riotto solicited opinions on holding more Canada-focused events in the coming year. Hopefully, we’ll have more to report on this front soon.

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