Activision is backing Skylanders as a franchise equally as lucrative as Call of Duty, and will use a similar approach to grow the kid-friendly property.
In an interview with MCV, Activision European VP Michael Sportouch made repeat references to how the publisher interfaces with Call of Duty’s multiplayer community in order to spur the franchise’s phenomenal growth, and intend to apply the same strategy to Skylanders.
“We’re going to engage with the kids and Skylanders fans in the same way that we engage with Call of Duty players. We are hopefully going to secure loyalty in the long term,” he said.
“What’s been amazing for us is to see the stickiness of the game. We see a lot of kids come back and play again and again. My son is 10 years old and I got him Skylanders at Christmas and usually, with other games that I won’t mention, he will play them for a couple of weeks, and then move onto something else. But he, like so many players, keeps coming back, replaying the game with new characters, new adventure packs. That makes me very optimistic about the long term appeal and success of the franchise.”
Skylanders has proved invaluable to retailers, with ongoing collectible character purchases proving so successful that the accessories sector is the only one to show growth in the US market for the last eight months. But Sportouch said not every retailer understood the appeal off the bat.
“Some retailers, and credit to them, have really welcomed the opportunity and really supported us in a fantastic way,” he said.
“Some others, when [Activision UK MD] Peter [Hepworth] and the teams throughout Europe presented the opportunity, just looked at us and thought ‘You guys are just crazy’. And when we’d say ‘We want Skylanders to be the next billion dollar franchise for Activision’ they looked us at like we were insane.
“But what we ended up with was probably one of the best, certainly during my tenure in the gaming industry, and most integrated campaigns from the creative vision of the studio to the execution at retail.”
Skylanders Giants, the second entry in the series, arrives on 3DS, Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, Wii and Xbox 360 in October, with a Wii U launch undated.