Tuesday February 7, 2012: New York, NY – Activision Publishing brought news to gaming press in New York City ahead of 2012's Toy Fair, announcing the sequel to the #1 Kids game of 2011: Skylanders: Giants. Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision, greeted press, thanking them and fans for accepting them into the realm of New York's annual Toy Fair. "People wondered what a video game company was doing at a toy show" said Hirschberg of 2011's event, as he noted that they launched not just a new game in Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure, but also a full-scale toy line.
"Launching a new intellectual property is the hardest thing to do in the industry," noted Hirshberg. Thanks to the success of the game sales and the sales of the expansion toys, Skylanders was the number four best selling title of December 2011, the only new franchise to make that list.
"I've been asked a number of times throughout the year about the value of launching a kid's game without using an established cast of characters. I think that question underestimates the power of video games as a story telling medium. I think they're a great launchpad for stories," Hirshberg explained. He noted that conceit is accepted in every other category other than "Kid's," and that's what they set out to prove.
With Skylanders, they've had that success, and are struggling to keep the individual figures on the shelves. Hirshberg lets his two sons play with the toys acting as play testers, and said that they play as much with the toys outside of the game as inside the game. His youngest son, Jake, actually wrote a poem about the Skylanders called "If I were a Skylander." Hirshberg was thrilled with the idea that Jake had that level of passion and imagination around the series.
After reading his son's poem, he showed a sizzle reel that had kids talking about the game and toys. "I feel that he could come to life at any second!" The cross-comatibility between multiple consoles was bragged about, and the kids in the commercial were clearly enthusiastic about the product.
Today, though, was not just about telling the press of the success of the past. The sequel to the game, Skylanders: Giants, will be coming to store shelves in Fall 2011. The game features some much larger Skylanders (as the title implies), with figures that are physically larger, and are bigger in game as well.
"It turns out that the very first Skylanders were Giants," Hirshberg teased of the story. They have powers and strength to match their size. There are going to be over 12 new regular-size Skylanders, as well as 8 Giants. The Giants figures include "light-force," with light-up components to them when they are placed on the Portal; one was shown with glowing eyes and a glowing arm cannon.
Kids don't have to worry about losing what they've already done, either. All the characters they already have from Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure will work in Giants, complete with all their leveled-up statistics.
A demo of the game was given live from the production team at Activision. "Tree Rex," a Life Giant, was the first demoed. He lands in the game's world with a huge thud that blows back the enemies on the field. His attacks are appropriately massive and strong, and he has additional abilities and ways of navigating the levels, like knocking down a statue to make a bridge, or pulling an island over to himself.
The developers mentioned the game will be coming to all current platforms, plus an online experience Skylanders: Universe, and even to mobile platforms. Universe, launching only one month ago, has over one million users already.
Toy Fair 2012 ExclusiveRounding out the press conference was Jerry Storch, CEO of Toys R' Us. "We sold more Skylanders figures after Christmas than in the weeks leading up to it," said Storch. Starting in March 2012, there will be exclusive figures launched at Toys R' Us. Legendary Trigger Happy, a stronger version of the character will be first, with another exclusive in April. An Adventure Pack called "Dragon's Peak" that adds new missions and new characters, will be a Toys R' Us timed-exclusive in March, as well. Storch reaffirmed the commitment of Toys R' Us, who was involved in feedback with Activision during the development of both games, to the product, which he also mentioned they "can't keep on the shelves."
"This is something unique in the entire toy kingdom, and we're thrilled about the Giants launch. When we launch Giants, we'll do it globally," Storch added, covering stores in 34 countries from North America to Europe and the Middle East. "We see the same strength everywhere across the world. I was in Nuremberg, Germany and the booth was swarmed with people trying to get a peek."
Skylanders: Giants and all associated new figures will be available Fall 2012, with more shown at Toy Fair in New York City next week.