Paul Fish - The Evolution of Collectible Games

November 8, 2018

 

The evolution of collectible games has run from traditional toys, such as marbles, to trading card games, like Pokemon, and now to innovative hybrid brands, such as Bakugan and Beyblade.

 

Key Strategies for Collectible Gaming Brands

 

There are several strategies that have led to success in collectible gaming:

  • Deliver a unique mechanical feature that can apply to highly differentiated characters & situations

  • Deliver action & competition to overcome limitations in humor-based play

  • Feature a hybrid play pattern of character product and gaming

  • Re-invent a classic enduring play pattern

  • Ensure that there are visual, thematic and game-play reasons to buy deep into the line

  • Ensure that each SKU is highly differentiated from others in the line

  • Incorporate a high level of addictive fiddle factor

  • Keep the game play simple enough to understand at a basic level, and challenging enough to engage older players

These strategies have been demonstrated in the following historical successes.

 

Beyblade

  • Play comes right out of the show

  • Re-invents the classic play pattern of spinning tops, and updates it with today’s relevant play patterns of customization and battle

  • Tops are highly differentiated, and perform differently depending on what top your opponent plays

  • The more tops you have, the more powerful you are

  • You don’t need to know how to play the game to play with the toys

Bakugan

  • Play comes right out of the show

  • Re-invents the classic play pattern of shooting marbles, and updates it with today’s relevant play patterns of transformation and battle

  • Each ball is numbered.  The higher the number, the more powerful you are

  • Each ball’s transformation is unique and dramatic

  • Extremely high fiddle-factor, so you don’t need to know how to play the game to play with the toys

They were also notably absent in less successful attempts in the category

 

Redakai

  • Show performed poorly, despite network support.

  • A twist on card materials, not a re-invention of card play

  • No fiddle factor whatsoever.

  • Consumers were unclear as to where to find in the store

  • Required understanding of game play to play

Hero 108

  • Show was cool and fun. Nevertheless, nobody watched

  • Not a re-invention of classic, and in fact the game play was too complicated.

  • Not enough fiddle factor

Product Strategies

 

It is important to look at variety, depth and rarity when considering your product strategy.  Some successful examples in both the gaming and non-gaming space:

 

Shopkins

  • Shopkins can be Common, Rare, Ultra Rare, Special Edition, or Limited Edition.

  • There are about 140 characters per season, so there are now more than 700 characters across the core line.

Squinkies

  • Squinkies season 1 launched with 208 characters in 13 waves.

    • Common: 145 or about 70%

    • Ultra-Rare: 14 or about 7%

    • Rare: 49 or about 23%

Bakugan

  • Bakugan season 1 included 62 models, Season 2 included 75 models

Hot Wheels

  • Hot Wheels creates multiple groups of 4 similarly-themed basic cars

Leading to our recommendation for product strategies

 

Recommended Product Strategies

  • Collectability: 

    • Pre-plan number of models over a 12-month period, ensuring that successful completion of the collection is difficult, but achievable

    • Differentiate the items by theme, rarity and/or function

    • Example:  60% Common; 20% Uncommon; 10% Rare; 7% Super-Rare; 3% Ultra-Rare

  • Visual Design

    • Launch with product featuring the brand’s versions of familiar archetypes.

    • Ensure all individual items are clearly identifiable

  • Functional Design

    • Ensure product variety follows a simple, structured functional hierarchy

    • Consider new technologic to enhance points value and gameplay powers