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Earning $500 million in the United States alone, the Skylanders franchise has become something of a video game phenomenon. Activision Publishing, Inc. threw that figure around the internet this morning, stating that 2012 was a banner year for the series as Skylanders went on to outperform similarly targeted franchises across video games, action figures and even movies.
Skylanders is set within the world of the Spyro game series. While initial games within the series, originally a PlayStation exclusive, received a lot of love, more recent entries were basically forgettable. If you would have told me a year ago that Spyro would not only be returning as an action figure-focused gaming experience, but would manage to pull off this feat with extreme success, I would have thought you were crazy.
But the folks at Activision have me singing a different tune these days. Skylanders features a “Portal” that plugs into your gaming console of choice. Placing one of the Skylanders action figures on the portal transports the character into the video game world, where you can then take them out on adventures. Changing characters or using special items is as easy as swapping out which character you have sitting on the portal. The game proper comes with the portal peripheral and, after a while, all of those action figures start to add up. In short, it’s a pretty expensive venture but, somehow, it struck that perfect harmony with younger gamers, catapulting the series into astronomic success.
“Just a year ago, the concept of bringing toys to life in a virtual world was an untested play pattern that Activision and Toys For Bob believed in,” said Activision Publishing VP of Consumer Marketing, John Coyne. “Now the category has been established in the market and embraced by parents and kids everywhere. We’re humbled by the continued support and acclaim from parents, kids and critics alike, but more importantly, it’s gratifying to see kids excited about the adventures that await them both in the digital and physical worlds.”
The original game was more recently followed up with Skylanders Giants, which introduced a whole new adventure and bigger action figures to the mix. Coupled with the original Skylanders game, the NPD is reporting that the series has outsold the top action figure lines in the toy category in the U.S. this year. The series also hit the $500 million U.S. milestone faster than any other kids’ gaming property. Pulling in $195 million in U.S. sales this year, Skylanders Giants itself was the best-selling kids’ game of the year, also outperforming the biggest family-friendly movies at the box office this year, like wreck-It Ralph.
Take that, Pokemon.