China Toy Fair


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.

Skylanders Trap Team to Feature Special Gameplay Mode for Emperor Kaos

SkylandersTrapTeam.KaosModeActivision Publishing Inc. has announced a new game play mode in Skylanders Trap Team for Emperor Kaos, the villain of its Skylanders franchise. In Kaos Doom Challenge, players can battle through increasingly difficult waves of minions, build defensive towers, and utilize both Skylanders and trapped villains from their collections.

Kaos Doom Challenge will also feature the Mystery Box of Doom, which when opened, spits out gigantic villains.

The Skylanders Trap Team Starter Pack will be available October 5 in North America and October 10 in Europe for Nintendo’s Wii and Wii U systems; a variety of iPad, Kindle Fire, and Android tablets; Xbox One and Xbox 360 games; and the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3 systems. A unique adventure also will be available on the Nintendo 3DS hand-held system.

Nintendo Announces Super Smash Bros., amiibo Release Dates

Amiibo-300x233Nintendo announced release dates for its massive lineup of new games and products for the 2014 holiday season. Among the release dates are the highly anticipated Super Smash Bros. for both Wii U and Nintendo 3DS consoles, as well as the new amiibo interactive figures.

Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS launches Oct. 3, with Super Smash Bros. for Wii U following during the holiday season. Consumers who register both Wii U and Nintendo 3DS versions of the games with Club Nintendo will receive the Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS & Wii U: Premium Sound Selection, a soundtrack CD packed with music taken from and inspired by the games.  Additionally, Nintendo revealed that Shulk from the Xenoblade Chronicles franchise will be a playable character on both consoles.

The first 12 amiibo interactive figures, Nintendo’s new foray into the toys-to-life play pattern, become available for pre-order today at a suggested retail price of $12.99 each. The first dozen characters available for pre-order at select retailers include Mario, Peach, Link, Samus, Yoshi, Donkey Kong, Pikachu, Kirby, Fox, Marth, Villager, and Wii Fit Trainer. More figures will launch in the future. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U will be the first game with full integration of amiibo functionality. Other games that will support amiibo include Mario Kart 8, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Mario Party 10, and Yoshi’s Woolly World, with more to come. More details on amiibo functionality with the various games and a launch date will be revealed shortly.

Skylanders Trap Team Dark Edition to Premiere at Comic-Con International

Skylanders

Skylanders Trap Team at Licensing Expo 2014

Activision Publishing Inc. is bringing the Skylanders video game franchise to Comic-Con International: San Diego, and attendees will be the first to check out the Skylanders Trap Team Dark Edition Starter Pack toys. The pack includes the Ultimate Kaos Trap, a special, larger-sized trap, which allows Portal Masters to trap and play as Kaos when the game launches in North America on October 5.

In addition, the pack will include two Traps; exclusive black and silver variant designs of new characters Snap Shot, Wildfire, and Food Fight; a two-sided poster; sticker sheets; and trading cards. The Skylanders Trap Team Dark Edition Starter Pack will be available on Xbox 360 and Xbox One, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, and Nintendo’s Wii and Wii U systems.

Comic Con International: San Diego kicks off thus Thursday, but North American fans can pre-order the Skylanders Trap Team Dark Edition Starter Pack beginning today at major retailers while supplies last.

Pac-Man to Join the Cast of Super Smash Bros.

Recently, SSB_Screenshot_1-1Nintendo revealed that Pac-Man will be joining the cast of the upcoming Super Smash Bros. games for the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS systems. This addition brings together video game legends Mario, Mega Man and, of course, Pac-Man for the first time.

The game is set to launch on October 3 for the Nintendo 3DS and on Wii U during the 2014 holiday season.

Masahiro Sakuri, Super Smash Bros. developer, also announced that players will now be able to customize any Mii character they want and set them fighting in this new game. Other highlights include a Super Smash Bros. invitational tournament, and a live broadcast showcasing a variety of upcoming Nintendo games.

Nintendo’s Wii Sports Club for Wii U Arrives in July

WiiSportsClubBaseballNintendo’s five-sports-in-one packaged version of Wii Sports Club for Wii U hits stores on July 25. The game features new versions of the five original classic sports–tennis, bowling, golf, baseball and boxing–enhanced with an online multiplayer option and optimized for play with the Wii U GamePad controller.

Wii U has also added high-definition graphics, Wii MotionPlus technology, and creative uses of the Wii U GamePad. [Read more...]

Nintendo Enters Toys to Life Category with amiibo

AmiiboAt the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) video game trade show in Los Angeles, Nintendo began showcasing new interactive figures called amiibo, which feature popular Nintendo characters. The company’s entry into the toys to life category, amiibo can interact with Wii U and Nintendo 3DS games in unique ways.

Nintendo will launch the new amiibo line this year with 10 figures, and more during the holiday season and throughout next year. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U will be the first game to support the figures, and upcoming games include Mario Kart 8, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Mario Party 10, and Yoshi’s Woolly World. A new NFC reader/writer designed for Nintendo 3DS is scheduled to launch next year.

Watch Dogs from Ubisoft Breaks Industry Sales Record with Launch

WatchDogsscreenshotThe release of Watch Dogs has been the most successful title launch for Ubisoft to date. The video game has sold more than 4 million copies in its first week, and has positioned itself as the best-selling new IP launch across the video game industry. Watch Dogs has already broken sales records for a title in the first 24 hours following its release.

The launch of Watch Dogs on consoles and PC was accompanied by the release of a free companion app, ctOS Mobile, which allows gamers to connect with the Watch Dogs universe from anywhere, and is designed to enable dual-screen game play or a standalone experience without the main game. The app has already been downloaded and played by more than one million people.

Watch Dogs is set in Chicago, where players become Aiden Pearce, a hacker seeking justice following a violent family tragedy. Pearce will hack into Chicago’s Central Operating System (ctOS), which controls infrastructure and data about the city’s residents. The video game will also be released on the Wii U this fall.

Sega Reveals Details about Sonic Boom Video Games

SonicWiiUconceptartSega will debut Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric, developed by Big Red Button for the Wii U, and Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal, developed by Sanzaru Games for the Nintendo 3DS, at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. The games will introduce new gameplay and the vilest villain in Sonic history: Lyric.

In both games, Sonic and his friends will work together to face Lyric, a giant snake-like creature from an ancient race. Gameplay will strongly focus on collaboration, making each of the team members’ roles elevated to capitalize each character’s unique talents and abilities. Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy, and Sticks will need to band together as a team to prevent Lyric from powering his army of robots and carrying out his plan to destroy the world.

Both games were created to take full advantage of the gameplay mechanics of their respective consoles. Sonic Boom: Rise of the Lyric will be the first Wii U game to incorporate Cryengine, a 3-D game technology from Cyrtek, and will exhibit visually enhanced lush environments and landscapes within the game. [Read more...]

Sega Creates All-New Character, Sticks, for Sonic Boom Franchise

SticksArtSega has introduced Sticks, a brand new character that will play an integral role across all Sonic Boom platforms. Sonic Boom is the newest branch of the Sonic the Hedgehog universe and was announced earlier this year.

Sticks will join the Sonic Boom team alongside Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Amy. She will appear in the Sonic Boom television series, Wii U and Nintendo 3DS video games, and merchandise.

Sticks is a jungle badger who has spent most of her life living alone in the wilderness and wields her trusty handmade boomerang. She is wilder than the other members of the team, exhibiting animal instincts, sharp survival skills, and fearsome combativeness. These skills will play a pivotal role through the new Sonic Boom content as Sticks tries to adapt to civilization and become close to her new friends. [Read more...]