Mattel to Acquire Mega Brands

logo_Mattel logoMattel Inc. and Mega Brands Inc. have signed a definitive agreement for Mattel’s acquisition, through a wholly owned subsidiary of Mattel Inc., of Mega Brands for $460 million.

The acquisition advances Mattel’s global growth strategy of building upon its world-class portfolio of brands by expanding into two of the fastest-growing toy categories. Mega Brands is the No. 2 player in the $4 billion construction building sets category with its Mega Bloks brand, as well as a competitor in the $2 billion arts and crafts category.

mega brands logoMattel’s portfolio of brands will complement Mega Brands’ flagship Mega Bloks brand and existing licensed brands, including Halo, Skylanders, Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, Power Rangers, Hello Kitty, and SpongeBob SquarePants. The acquisition will give Mattel the opportunity to broaden its relationship with its entertainment partners.

Mega Brands ranks among the top 15 toy companies globally in terms of sales, according to statistics published by The NPD Group last year. Additionally, the company achieved record sales of preschool construction toys. [Read more...]

Activision Publishing’s Call of Duty and Skylanders Continue to Top NPD Charts for 2013

Call of Duty and Skylanders continue to top U.S. NPD charts for last year. Call of Duty: Ghosts was the No. 1 best-selling title overall in December and No. 1 best-selling next generation console title of 2013 on both Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Call of Duty sustained its spot as the No. 1 franchise for the fifth year in a row in the U.S. in both software units and dollars.

Skylanders Swap Force was the No. 2 best-selling title overall in December and No. 1 best-selling kids video game franchise in the U.S. for the second consecutive year. It was also the No. 3 video game franchise overall for the third year in the U.S., including toys and accessories. In addition, the latest two Skylanders games, Skylanders Giants and Skylanders Swap Force, both ranked in the top 5 of kids’ video games in 2013.

 

COMMENTARY: Indie Video Games Are More Than Just Minecraft

Video games come in all shapes and sizes, and blockbuster series such as Activision Publishing’s Call of Duty and Rockstar GamesGrand Theft Auto can be fun in their own elaborate ways. But on the flip side is independent, or “indie” video games, in which each title is often the brainchild of one or a few talented persons at most. While these games don’t always provide a high degree of spectacle, all feature interesting ideas or idiosyncratic touches, making them unique and unlike much of what’s available in the mainstream.

Phil.Jan2.MinecraftThis past weekend, I got to immerse myself in indie video games, courtesy of the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, N.Y. Together with IndieCade, an international festival that promotes video games as a vehicle for artistic expression, the museum is hosting an exhibition, Indie Essentials: 25 Must-Play Video Games, that shows off a variety of games that have been developed outside the major publishers. Among those displayed was Mojang’s Minecraft, which began life as a Swedish programmer’s side project, but has since grown into a cultural and commercial juggernaut.

(I could wax poetic all day about Minecraft, which allows users to build and share amazing homemade structures in a geometric sandbox world. But better yet, check out our recent Minecraft commentary, written by our outstanding editorial assistant Kara Faulk, for a more in-depth look at the hit game.)

The Minecraft installation drew its share of spectators, but there were plenty of other cool games on-hand for visitors to both play and experience. Many have been available on home consoles through the PlayStation Network and other download services. Here’s some of my favorites from the exhibition, but please note, this is in no way a comprehensive list, and anyone curious about the full roster of IndieCade games should check out Museum of the Moving Image’s event web site. [Read more...]

Mega Bloks, Activision Introduce New Call of Duty Collector Construction Sets

MegaBloks.CallofDutyMega Brands Inc. and Activision Publishing Inc. have introduced a new premium line of Mega Bloks Collector Construction Sets, based on the Call of Duty franchise. The new line brings a level of sophistication and detail never before seen in the highly collectible construction category.

Call of Duty Collector Construction Sets are part of a multi-year, global license with Activision that expands upon the two companies’ development of innovative, creative, and entertaining construction collectibles. The sets offer a range that includes buildable vehicles, themed locations, and collectible micro action figures. The action figures feature a level of articulation that includes unique joint design and poseability.

Activision, Treyarch, and Xbox Partner to Help Veterans Through the Call of Duty Endowment

CallofDutyendowment

Activision Publishing Inc., its studio Treyarch, and Xbox have partnered to support the Call of Duty Endowment. Through October 14, U.S. fans can purchase any of the 17 Call of Duty: Black Ops II Personalization Packs that are currently available on Xbox Live for a 25 percent discount. Additionally, Activision, Treyarch, and Xbox will donate all profits from the packs sold to the Call of Duty Endowment.

Personalization Packs in Call of Duty: Black Ops II offer fans more options to customize and expand their experience. Each themed Personalization Pack contains one unique weapon camo, three targeting reticules, and a player calling card.

Activision’s Call of Duty and Eminem Come Together for Ultimate Fan Offer

Call-of-DutyActivistion’s most anticipated game, Call of Duty: Ghosts and music icon, Eminem’s new The Marshall Mathers LP 2 will both drop on November 5. In collaboration with GameStop, anyone who pre-orders Call of Duty: Ghosts at GameStop will get his or her copy at the launch, which will include a code to download a special edition of The Marshall Mathers LP 2, featuring the track “Survival” plus a bonus studio track for a discounted price.

The ongoing collaboration between Activision and Eminem will continue later this month with a music video trailer featuring “Survival” and Call of Duty: Ghosts, and will extend throughout the launch of the title. The offer is redeemable through Monday, November 19, 11:59 p.m. EST.

The news of this limited-time offer follows additional pre-order headlines from last week, in which Activision and GameStop revealed that gamers who pre-order Call of Duty: Ghosts at GameStop will receive a pack of content that includes the bonus classic Simon “Ghost” Riley multiplayer character. Made famous in the original Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, the return of one of the most iconic characters in Call of Duty history as a playable multiplayer character is a first for the series and is a pre-order incentive only available at GameStop.

Call of Duty: Ghosts will release on Xbox 360 game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system, PC, and Wii U on November 5. The title will also release on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 later this year. Call of Duty: Ghosts is rated M for Mature by the ESRB.