Spin Master is ready for its next big move.
After the Toronto, Canada-based toy and entertainment company saw sales in its Activities, Games & Puzzles category rise by 46% to US$337.8 million last year, it is bolstering its inventor relations team in order to further grow and diversify its games portfolio.
The added manpower is warranted, following the company’s acquisition of the assets of Chicago-based brain game retailer Marbles in May, and the 2015 buyout of New York’s Cardinal Games.
Tasked with building out Spin Master’s network of global inventors are ex-Hasbro exec Ben Rathbone, who joins the team as VP of games
design, former GameBrotherZ exec Peter Kristoffy (business development, games), and Scott Brown, who will serve as VP of Marbles. “What we’re really looking at is connecting with the international community,” Rathbone says. “Between myself, Peter and Scott, we know a lot of the inventors out there. But it’s also about finding new ideas and people who have a great concept, but may not be traditional games inventors.”
As a toymaker, Rathbone says Spin Master has a long history of collaborating with inventors. Now, the new exec team is ready to extend that reputation into the games category. “I think it’s been recognized now that games is really a very different area, and we need the expertise in the company that really understands and can help us build and grow it,” he says.
According to Rathbone, that growth will come from innovation. He hopes that by being present in the inventor community, Spin Master can be at the forefront of emerging technologies in the games space.
And this doesn’t just apply to actual gameplay. Tools like social media and crowdsourcing have softened the category’s entry point, Rathbone says, making it easier for people to launch the new, innovative games they’ve always dreamed of. Social media has also opened the world of games up to people around the globe who might not otherwise have been exposed to the community.
Spin Master’s upcoming kids game Soggy Doggy, for one, has social media-friendly elements like anticipation and humor laced into its design. The game—which will be available at major retailers globally in August—requires kids to race around the board while giving their dog a bath. If the dog shakes and sprays water everywhere, players have to return to the start.
Games like Soggy Doggy are launching at a time when overall demand for physical board games is on the rise. New data from global market research company Euromonitor International shows that games and puzzles is the fastest-growing toy category, recording its highest global growth in 2016 (up 8% to US$9.5 billion) in more than a decade.
Those numbers fall in line with market research firm The NPD Group’s estimation that the category grew by 18% last year to the tune of US$307 million. Perhaps the smell of a wet dog has never been sweeter.