It's been a question that has plagued the video game industry for quite some time now: Are consoles dying? Personally, I would say absolutely not and even infer the complete opposite -console gaming is stronger than ever and alive and well. It's quite different for me though, as I've been playing video games since the early 2000s. But in today's society, how do young children enter the nerdy realm that is the video game console space? It appears that the answer is to attach a toy with the video game. It's quite genius, extremely innovative, and couldn't be accomplished without today's technological feats. It isn’t perfect, but it’s extremely costly to the parent, which could lead them to deter their children away from console gaming and encourage them into the mobile market.
The main opposition of console gaming is the mobile market. The App Store on Apple devices and Google Play Store on Android devices offer a plethora of video games that can be downloaded freely or purchased at a fraction of the price compared to what you can buy at your local EB Games/GameStop or Best Buy. However, both the console and mobile gaming space are quite similar in a way, as both require a machine, usually upwards of $300, in order to play these games. So, why is there such a draw to iPads and other tablets for little kids in order to play video games?
Specific developers have noticed this and are trying to bring kids over to the console gaming side, doing so by creating toy-to-life video games. When the original Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure came out back in 2011, it was something that the entire video game space had never seen before. Developer Toys for Bob created figurines, incorporated innovative technology and NFC (Near Field Communication) capabilities inside, and created a portal that will allow gamers to use these figurines in the game simply by placing them on top of portal. It's been 4 years and there has been no sign of slowing down. Avalanche Studios dropped Disney Infinity in 2013, following the same blueprint which made Skylanders so extremely popular. Next, Nintendo announced that they will be releasing their own figurines, called amiibo, which can be used via the NFC capabilities inside the New Nintendo 3DS/3DS XL and the Wii U. And finally, just last week, developer TT games released LEGO Dimensions, building upon from all of the previous LEGO video games and combining multiple LEGO worlds into one video game experience.
Coming from an outsider perspective, as I've never played any of these games, they all look genuinely fun. I'm assuming they are actually great games considering they're being annualized and constantly getting revamped with new characters and level packs. And in the case of LEGO Dimensions, TT games has done a fantastic job with each LEGO game that they dish out, and from videos that I've seen, I'm sure LEGO Dimensions is going to be a hit.
Also, Disney Infinity and LEGO Dimensions are delving into one of gaming’s most hated subsections: DLC. There are constant complaints regarding the length of the content itself or the price-point set out by the developers. But don’t these games do the exact same thing, in a much more in your face way? Price points for extra character packs, adventure or level packs range anywhere from $12.99 to $29.99 CDN, on-par to digital DLC that you can download via the PlayStation Store or on Xbox Live. These games boast that you'll have tonnes of things to do and endless hours to spend in these expansion packs, but on the whole, how many of the gamers playing are actually going to find everything and beat everything? How many children are going to beg their parents for the newest expansion pack only to play a fraction of the level?
People complained about Arkham Knight's $40 DLC season pass, but will rush out to buy the Portal Level Pack. Someone give me clarity!
I sound like a straight-up hater, which I'm not, because I want gamers of all ages to play consoles to keep the community stronger than ever. But now, there are four juggernauts in the video game space that have entered the realm of toy-to-life gaming. I can't tell if I'm amazed of the technological advancements that have been made, or disappointed that these companies are simply bleeding consumers dry with the extra content that should already be available. The amount of money that these games make is truly astronomical. Activision stated that the Skylanders series hit $2 billion last year , with no signs of slowing down. I think it relates to the fact that gamers and children alike are huge fans of collecting. Having these in-game characters that they can physically grasp and hold onto, I believe, plays a huge part into these sales. Buying a pack or two might not seem like it’s that bad, but if you’re a completionist and aim to collect every possible item available, you’re going to be losing a lot of money by doing so. And that’s exactly what these developers want.