In 2007, a technology by the name of toys-to-life came into existence. This was introduced in a game by Mattel, Radica and Arkadium. The game was U. B. Funkeys, it didn’t really get too popular despite the technology that was used in the game and it had to be discontinued in 2010. A year later, Activision released Skylanders and it had sales of over $3 billion over the first 4 years since its inception. Apart from Skylanders, not too many toys to world games have gone on to be real hits. Now, it’s a field which is said to be dying faster than ever even though it was one of the fastest growing technologies in gaming at one point of time. Here, we see why this has happened.
What is toys-to-life?
Toys-to-life is a technology that has been used in some games in the past. It involves the usage of figurines, these interact with each other within the game with the use of NFC, RFID or image recognition.
The figurine problem
One of the reasons behind the dying of toys-to-life is fairly simple to explain. The figurines that have to be made for toys-to-life games aren’t cheap to manufacture and the profit recovered isn’t really a lot. The figurines are generally chunky and they look intimidating to some kids which could also be one of the reasons but this is just about consumer behavior.
Another big reason is the platform of the games. People don’t use consoles as often as they use mobiles and tablets. Toys-to-life hasn’t really been able to adapt to this change and the whole technology is paying the price for it. Users started shifting to different games and different technologies of gaming.
Emergence of other technologies
The killer blow, according to me, is the fact that the major platforms started to move on to other technologies, although this wasn’t the reason for the downfall of toys-to-life. This has landed the killer blow to toys-to-life though. Now, VR and AR gaming are really picking up pace, before this the motion sensors and motion controllers gained popularity and the concept of the console evolved. This directly led to a change in the investment patterns, big companies like Disney and Nintendo started thinking about the future, and this spelled the end of most toys-to-life games. Surprisingly though, Skylanders is one of the few toys-to-life games which withstood this change, although it has slowed down with time and it might also come to an end pretty soon.
As saddening as this is, rhythm games like Guitar Hero have followed the same trajectory, and there is no way to stop this from happening. All we can do is hope that the technologies which replace them have some really great games.
(The article is authored by Nishant Nijhawan, Intern, Techxty.com. Nishant is a student of computer engineering at Delhi Technical University who believes in optimal usage of technology.)