COMMENTARY: Nintendo Is Game for Playing in the Toy World

amiibo.largerversionSince the 1980s, Nintendo has always seemed to be the “family-friendly” choice in video games. With wholesome characters such as Mario and Luigi, Princess Peach, Yoshi, and Toad, and bad guys that make you laugh more often than they scare you (except for Bowser in the original Super Mario Bros. game on NES—he was straight up scary), Nintendo has always given off a welcoming, family-friendly vibe, with games available for kids of all ages, and systems and controllers that are intuitive rather than intimidating.

Despite knowing this—and being a Nintendo fan my whole life—it still caught me a bit off-guard when Nintendo announced that it would be launching amiibo, which are action-figures designed to connect and interact with compatible games. “By holding the amiibo over your Wii U GamePad, you’ll open up new experiences within each corresponding game,” reads the Nintendo website. [Read more...]

Nintendo Becomes More Playful with Play Nintendo Website

PlayNintendoNintendo has unveiled Play Nintendo at play.nintendo.com, a new website where both kids and parents can interact with the video game maker’s characters and franchises. The site is a child-friendly online destination where kids can get to know beloved Nintendo games and characters including Mario, Luigi, Bowser, and Peach.

Nintendo will be regularly updating the parents site with new content such as which games are right for families, new games on the way, crafting ideas, suggestions for how to balance screen time with outdoor play, and more.

Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes 2.0 Edition Launches in Retail Stores Nationwide

DisneyInfinity.MarvelSuperHeroesDisney Interactive and Marvel have launched Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes, the follow-up to last year’s toy/video game hybrid. The Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes Starter Pack features the 2.0 game software; the Disney Infinity 2.0 Base; Marvel’s The Avengers Play Set with Iron Man, Black Widow, and Thor figures; two Toy Box Game Discs; and a web code card. Marvel’s Spider-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy Play Sets, along with additional figures from those worlds, are sold separately. [Read more...]

Winner Announced in Skylanders Choose and Name a New Hero Contest

SkylandersLogoPhylicia Nakamoto, from Elk Grove, Calif., is the fan-selected winner of the Skylanders Choose and Name a New Hero promotion. Her winning entry, High Five, is a royal dragonfly that is able to fly higher and faster than any other hero in Skylands. Phylicia will receive a $100,000 scholarship and High Five will be featured in the Skylanders franchise.

Earlier this year, Frito-Lay North America and Activision Publishing Inc. gave fans the opportunity to choose and name a new hero that would appear in the upcoming Skylanders Trap Team game, which will be released on October 5 in North America. Along with High Five, the other two finalist characters—Bat Spin, a female bat with magical powers, and Flip Wreck, an adventurous dolphin—will also have roles in the new game.

The three finalists were revealed in May, and consumers were invited to visit www.fritolay.com/skylanders to vote for their favorite. This marks the third Skylanders promotion between Activision and Frito-Lay.

GameStop to Exit Spanish Market, Sell Locations to GAME

GamestopGameStop intends to exit the Spanish market via the sale of retail locations to specialist video game retailer Game Digital Plc (GAME), in combination with closures of its remaining locations. Under the terms of this proposed agreement, GameStop will transfer ownership of a portfolio of GameStop stores located in Spain, with the remaining retail sites winding down this year.

GAME already has a consumer presence in the country, in addition to its retail operations in the UK. GameStop’s strategic decision to exit the Spanish market was made after a careful review of the market’s financial performance and future opportunities, which indicated that the company would be better served by curtailing its operations in Spain, and focusing its resources in other countries where GameStop has significant market share. GameStop expects to maintain and expand its presence in the other European countries in which it currently operates.

During the coming months, GameStop will work closely with GAME to ensure continued support for GameStop’s customers in Spain. The proposed deal will require Spanish Competition Authority approval, which is expected in October. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Special Version of Skylanders Trap Team Launching on Nintendo 3DS

SkylanderTrapTeam3DSThis fall, Skylanders Trap Team, from Activision Publishing Inc., will arrive on Nintendo 3DS with an adventure exclusive to the platform. Developed by Beenox and launching on October 5 alongside the console and tablet versions, Skylanders Trap Team for 3DS will utilize the special features of the system: For instance, after villains are defeated in combat, players can use the bottom touch screen to pull them out of the game and trap them in the Traptanium Vault. Then, once captured, players can use the touch screen and microphone to poke, tickle, and spin villains to make them dizzy.

Using the portal included in the Skylanders Trap Team Nintendo 3DS Starter Pack, players can load Skylanders characters directly into their system. Additionally, two Skylanders characters, Gusto and Barkley, will be available at launch only via the Nintendo 3DS Starter Pack.

Skylanders Trap Team for Nintendo 3DS will also introduce a multi-player version of the card game Skylanders Skystones, which uses wi-fi connectivity.

August Video Game Sales Up Year-over-Year, but New Software Launches Show Weakness

NPDGrouplogoAccording to analysis from The NPD Group’s Liam Callahan, overall new physical retail sales of video game hardware, software, and accessories increased by 8 percent this August over the same month last year. These overall sales also followed a similar pattern as prior months, with explosive hardware growth driven by eighth generation consoles offsetting declines in software.

For August, overall hardware sales doubled from the same month last year, caused by a more than 200 percent increase in console hardware sales with continued strong sales of eighth generation hardware, including Wii U, PS4, and Xbox One. Eighth generation hardware represented close to 70 percent of August’s hardware sales—the highest percentage share since the release of the Xbox One and PS4 last November.

As far as software, new launches in August declined 41 percent compared to last August, due to poor comparisons between titles. Eight of the top 10 games last August were new launches, compared to only three during this past August. Madden NFL 15 was the number one game in August, with growth over last August’s Madden NFL 25.

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...]

Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes Gains Fan Favorites Yondu and Falcon

MarvelSuperHeroes.FalconDisney Interactive has added two more characters to its Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes line-up. There’s Yondu, from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy movie, and Captain America’s loyal ally, Falcon.

The arrow-shooting leader of the outlaw band known as the Ravagers, Yondu will be playable in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Play Set, as well as in Toy Box 2.0. He will also make an appearance in the Marvel Team-Up: Yondu Power Disc.

Sam Wilson, codename Falcon, has been added to both Marvel’s Avengers Play Set and Toy Box 2.0. The character features EXO-7 wing pack and Hardlight Feathers, and other characters can also fly like Falcon when players use the Falcon’s Wings Power Disc.

Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes arrives at North American retail stores on September 23, and Yondu and Falcon will be available next year.

Nintendo 3DS XL Gets Three Special Editions

The Nintendo 3DS XL will get three new looks for the holiday season: the Super Smash Bros. Edition Nintendo 3DS XL, the NES Edition Nintendo 3DS XL, and the Persona Q Edition Nintendo 3DS XL.

The Super Smash Bros. Edition Nintendo 3DS XL system, available in red and blue, goes on sale at retailers nationwide on September 19, in honor of the October 3 launch of Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS. The NES Edition Nintendo 3DS XL, which has hardware modeled after Nintendo’s iconic NES controller, is a GameStop exclusive and goes on sale October 10.

Another GameStop exclusive, the Persona Q Edition Nintendo 3DS XL, coincides with the November 25 launch of the AtlusPersona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth.

Super Smash Bros. Edition Nintendo 3DS XL

NES Edition Nintendo 3DS XL

Persona Q Edition Nintendo 3DS XL