In a bid to grab some of the heat from Activision’s successful Skylanders franchise, Hasbro has been trying its hand at the hot toy/digital integration market. And so far, things are sticking. Initial numbers are in, and more than a million of the toyco’s techy Telepods sold within the product’s first month on the market.
Enlisted in this battle are arguably two of Hasbro’s most potent licenses: Angry Birds and Star Wars, which together are already taking the European toy market by storm. The result is Angry Birds Star Wars II, a new integrated app from Rovio Entertainment and Lucasfilm. Every copy of the game app includes a Telepods mode that allows users of smart devices with front-facing cameras to “teleport” or import their own Angry Birds Star Wars figurine into the game. The figurines come in packs of two or more and include the small clear stand that is placed upon the consumer’s device. A two-pack can retail for US$9.99 but other more extensive packs are pricier. Currently, there are 30 different characters in the line.
Different characters can be purchased to add to a player’s lineup using in-game currency and micro-transactions, but characters that a player owns as Telepods can be used over and over. These characters can be “teleported” into the game once per level with no other limits.
“With one million Telepods figures in consumers’ hands and counting, we are thrilled with the response from kids around the world to the new platform,” says John Frascotti, global chief marketing officer at Hasbro. “We continue to work closely with entertainment leaders like Rovio and Lucasfilm to drive seamless physical to digital app integration with our Telepods platform and are excited by what the future holds for this innovative experience.”
The physical/digital play pattern trend has so far been led by Activision’s Skylander’s franchise, which has drawn more than US$1.5 billion in revenue for the company since its launch in 2011. Disney has followed suit with a reported US$100 million investment in its own physical/digital Infinity platform that launched in August and is standing out with its own cloud-based features. Hasbro made a similar initial investment when the company paid a reported US$112 million for a majority stake in Colorado-based mobile developer Backflip Studios, the studio behind such games as DragonVale, NinJump and Paper Toss – that investment has helped to drive a 13% gain in the company’s entertainment and licensing revenues.
Appropriately, Hasbro has indicated that the Telepod program is not a one-off tie-in with Angry Birds Star Wars II, but a new platform that will continue with the release of Angry Birds Go!, a new app launching in December that will also feature the Telepod connectivity.