China Toy Fair


Minecraft Will Join Microsoft Studios

Minecraft-gamesMicrosoft Corp. has reached an agreement to acquire Mojang, the Stockholm-based game developer behind the popular Minecraft franchise.

Under the terms of the agreement, the Mojang team will join Microsoft Studios. Microsoft will acquire Mojang for $2.5 billion, and expects the acquisition to be break-even in fiscal year 2015 on a GAAP basis. Subject to customary closing conditions and any regulatory review, the acquisition is expected to close later this year.

Available across multiple platforms, players have downloaded Minecraft more than 100 million times, on PC alone, since its launch in 2009. Minecraft is also the most popular online game on Xbox, and the game’s community is among the most active in the industry, with more than 2 billion hours played on Xbox 360 alone in the past two years. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Video Game-Based Toys Can Ease Kids into Other Kinds of Play

KNEX.SuperMarioDesertIt’s summertime, which for a lot of kids means playing outside in the sunshine, swimming, and maybe even going on trips to visit nature. But for others, summer means staying indoors and playing video games all day. It’s probably best to moderate any activity that involves staring at a screen; however, the question is, how to get video game-obsessed kids to take up a different form of play? The answer may be toys based on popular video game titles, and there are quite a few of those available right now.

We kick off our non-comprehensive list with K’NEX, which since 2010, has partnered with Nintendo on construction toys based on its popular Mario property. Recently, I spoke to an executive at the company, who said that no small part of the partnership’s success came from replicating game elements in K’NEX’s construction sets: For example, many of its Super Mario building sets have a mechanism that simulates the avatar’s in-game jumping ability. [Read more...]

The Year’s Most Outstanding Toys and Games Honored at TOTY Awards

Rainbow LoomOn February 15, the eve of American International Toy Fair, hundreds of toy executives and industry guests gathered at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City for the 14th Annual Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards and Toy Industry Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Rainbow Loom, from Choon’s Design LLC, won Toy of the Year as well as prizes in three additional categories, while GoldieBlox and the Spinning Machine, from GoldieBlox Inc., took home the People’s Choice award by pulling in the most online votes from consumers.

The event also featured five inductions into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame: Jill Barad, former chairman and CEO, Mattel; Horst Brandstätter, president and owner, Playmobil/geobra Brandstätter GmbH & Co. KG; Jack Friedman, former chairman, CEO, and co-founder, Jakks Pacific; and Arthur “Spud” Melin and Richard Knerr, co-founders of Wham-O Toy. [Read more...]

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...]