Toys For Bob in Game Developer's Top 30 Developers

“This honor is reserved for teams of developers who are doing something new, something different, something better – or, more often than not, all of the above.”
‐, “Our Top 30 Developers: Three Rings to Zeboyd Games”

The staff at Gamesutra and Game Developer Magazine have teamed up to select 30 developers from the past 12 months for this list. They are listed in alphabetical order. Of the thirty developers, Toys for Bob has been included for the critical and financial success of the Skylanders franchise:

“With the Spyro license available, Toys for Bob could have just dialed in yet another sequel. It could have decided to reboot the franchise entirely with a gritty, bloody, “mature” Spyro. Thankfully, neither of these happened (though the latter almost did).

Instead, Toys for Bob came up with Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure, an ambitious new take on Spyro that integrated a set of RFID-equipped action figures that could unlock new characters within the game.

Fact is, many less-confident developers would undoubtedly shy away from asking parent company Activision to back such an expensive, risky gambit. We’re not just impressed that Toys for Bob successfully pulled Skylanders off – it sold massively, after all – we’re impressed by how ballsy it was to begin with.
‐, “Our Top 30 Developers: Three Rings to Zeboyd Games”

Again, I am reminded of the Guitar Hero franchise. It was an extremely successful franchise. It reached high sales and had very positive reviews. It quickly became a cultural icon of the electronics industry. Sales began to dwindle until Activision announced that Guitar Hero would be put on hiatus until further notice.

Is there a possibility that Skylanders can fall like Guitar Hero? It is a possibility, though that’s just my unprofessional opinion. There are some obvious differences between Guitar Hero and Skylanders:

  1. No licensing issues. Guitar Hero has sparked various lawsuits regarding the design of the guitar peripheral and how the likenesses of artists should be used. Activision seems to have clear ownership of Spyro and the Skylanders franchise.
  2. Skylanders has a much younger demographic than Guitar Hero.
  3. The toys serve a dual-purpose: They are physical toys in addition to a gaming peripheral.
  4. It is more appealing to collectors.

It would be more appropriate to compare it to the Pokémon franchise. When it was first introduced in North America, it was an instant hit with children. The video game and toys sold in the millions and was also very appealing to collectors. Nintendo continues to make new Pokémon games to this day and there is even one for the 3DS. I believe that Activision learned from Guitar Hero and Skylanders can become a lasting franchise just like Pokémon.

It’s great to see that Toys For Bob was listed in the list of “Top 30 Developers”. I’m glad they’re rising in popularity. Like the movie industry, video games are either “hit or miss” with hardly any grey area; at least for big publishers such as Activision anyways.

What do you think about TFB’s rising popularity?

Gamesutra: Our Top 30 Developers: Three Rings to Zeboyd Games

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