Playtime with Tomy will take on a whole new meaning when the toyco’s expanding video game publishing arm starts translating its portfolio of playthings into gaming products.
Tomy’s Consumer Software division has been up and running for the last three years, but has thus far focused on publishing, and namely North American market games for the Nintendo Wii and DS based on VIZ Media’s Naruto. The boom in casual gamers and the transition of family games night from board-based amusements to video games has led the company to embrace a broader strategy and assess new opportunities in the space.
To that end, Tomy is in the process of doubling its staff at the division and has taken back distribution rights to its Naruto titles from D3Publisher of America. Consumer Software director Laura Yoshioka is now determining which of the toyco’s other properties might serve as good source material for North American game titles.
So far, the division has gotten its feet wet with fashion-doll simulation game Lovely Lisa and Wii racing game Penny Racers Party. Targeting female DS owners ages six to 10, Lovely Lisa launched this past October and is based on TakaraTomy’s line of Licca-chan fashion dolls. Penny Racers, meanwhile, which debuted at the same time, was derived from the Choro-Q line of mini R/C cars.
Both Licca-chan and Choro-Q toy lines are popular in Japan, and Yoshioka says the spin-off games are prime examples of how Tomy is globalizing its brands, and the video game spin-offs have been profitable for the company.
Going forward, Yoshioka hopes to work closely with the toy division on cross-category initiatives, citing its A.I. Tech vehicles and sticker-maker Cella as product opportunities. At press time, she was finalizing deals for the 2009 line and eyeing some board games for translation.
The division isn’t eschewing third-party licenses either. Yoshioka’s open to picking up new properties, particularly with action-adventure themes, great story lines and multiple characters