Toys to Life @ E3 – Skylanders Predictions
Skylanders has two big, different releases this year, Battlecast (a card game that recently launched on mobile devices) and Imaginators (releasing on consoles in September), allowing it to garner attention from a variety of audiences. Additionally, there’s an exciting rumour regarding a guest character that might come to fruition, so E3 could potentially have a lot of excitement in-store for the series. It may not have the appeal of numerous big brands like some of its competitors, but Skylanders could still have quite a presence this week. Let’s take a stab at working out what Skylanders could be ‘crash’-ing the party with.
Skylanders Imaginators Gameplay and Character Reveals
This one’s no big surprise – Skylanders Imaginators is the big Skylanders release for this year. This game will allow you to create your own Skylanders and team them up with powerful new Sensei characters to gain power. There’s no question that we’ll see some gameplay footage during E3, most likely focusing on their big draw, the character customisation. I think we’ll see most of the coverage from pre-show sessions and press streams rather than on-stage, so you’ll need to keep an eye out for those. If Imaginators does feature in a formal presentation I’d wager on Sony’s. Nintendo’s coverage sounds like it’ll focus on their own published games, and Sony is the other console manufacturer with ties to Toys to Life. They’ve made deals with Disney for timed-exclusive Infinity content, and have had PlayStation featured in ads for both Infinity and Skylanders. Like I said, the focus of any coverage will be on character customisation. A lot of streams will no doubt spend most of their time here, as customisation options get people more invested in game worlds. We’ll see how deep this feature gets, and the ways in which our custom Skylanders interact with the Senseis. We’ll be introduced to a few more of the Sensei characters as these are the new non-custom figures being added to the game that will be its face in the marketing. Some of these characters will be reformed villains of the series which will be a unique feature for longtime fans.
New Battlecast Cards
Battlecast has kind of flown under the radar this year, likely due to its staggered release across the globe. However it’s a fun and approachable game that I’ve enjoyed so far. It’s available for free on the app store, and we’ve got some gameplay footage on our YouTube channel if you’re not yet convinced (we’ll be uploading more soon). Battlecast has been frequently updated with new features and improvements, and the Skylanders Twitter is still plugging it, so it’s clear that it’s still got some legs. The dedicated players will no doubt be close to completing their collection of cards (if they haven’t already) and Imaginators is still a few months off, so now would be a great time to release a new batch of cards for the game, or some new singleplayer levels. There’s still a large number of characters they can add, which would have accompanying Character Cards, and then fhey can make spells, gear and relics out of whatever they like, so they won’t be stretched for card ideas. Battlecast could easily stagnate without an exciting announcement to keep things fresh, so I’d be surprised if there were no announcements relating to it during E3. As Battlecast is a mobile game it’s very unlikely that it will be part of a stage show. I expect any announcements will be done over Twitter or YouTube. It miiiight get a quick showing on a press stream or pre-show, but I wouldn’t be count on it.
Last year Activision had a big success with their Nintendo collaboration, adding Nintendo characters to Skylanders Superchargers. These figures doubled as both Skylander figures and amiibo figures, which meant that those swept up in the amiibo craze suddenly wanted in on Skylanders. It was a great idea because it appealed to people who were already Toys to Life fans and were likely to stay onboard and buy extra figures. I can definitely see this happening again. Nintendo have a bunch of recognisable characters they could use for additional Skylanders, like King K. Rool, Ganondorf, and the Inklings. There’s rumours that Crash Bandicoot might finally be making the transition to Skylanders like Spyro before him, in a PS4 exclusive starter pack. I could believe Sony securing an exclusive as they’ve done similar with Infinity in the past, but I don’t feel this would be as valuable for Activision. I don’t see the overlap between Crash Bandicoot fans and Toys to Life fans like there is with amiibo, and speaking purely anecdotally the Nintendo versions of Skylander games are the most popular. But seeing as Nintendo have all but buried the Wii U at this point maybe they just weren’t keen about arranging a deal. And hey, with how long it’s been since a real Crash game, maybe this resurrection will. be enough for series fans.
Sony’s conference is at 11am today (thanks Press Start), so we’ll know if a certain marsupial will be resurrected soon enough.