We are in the dawn of a new toy era – the rise of the connected and integrated toys. According to Global Industry Analysts, “demand for intelligent and interactive toys is expected to continue growing and fueling the global toys and games market.”
Watching this trend, tech and media companies such as Microsoft and Intel, have started joining this market and introducing new products.
This trend is being driven by larger market trends that will not quit and to survive, toy companies will be forced to evolve their business models as well as many of their toys.
The general trends driving the rise of interactive toys – and its resultant opening of the toy industry to tech and media giants – can be directly traced to shifting audiences and shifting audience tastes.
By knowing and understanding the shifting audience psychographics and the power of building transmedia and connected properties, traditional toy companies and digital media and game companies can all prosper in the coming connected realm of play and games.
Your Audience – what do they want and how do they play?
There is a big shift in audience engagement and age with toys. It used to be that the stable range of toys were 0-13 with a steady evolution in toy complexity through the child’s growth.
But this age range has been shrinking since more computer based games, phones and tablets were introduced to the market and the desire of the young audience to play using these devices.
Today it’s not uncommon to see even toddlers playing on mom’s iPads. In addition, children have become increasingly accustomed to changing toys more frequently and desiring toys that are unique to them. This means toy and game manufacturers are obliged to introduce new products on a regular basis, and focus on innovation and technological advancements.
With this hefty installed base of phones, tablets, computers and digital gaming consoles, toys need to compete with or integrate with these systems and with leading titles there. Skylanders alone has proven the model and Disney is seeking to do the same. Smart toys companies the world around will look at this paradigm and recognize that they can’t beat these trends. And if you can’t beat ‘em – join ‘em. That means we’ll see even more connected and intelligent toys – which will further drive the trend.
And with more intelligent toys, robots and wearables, and also the advent of consumer level 3d printers – there are much more uncharted storytelling, user experience and engagement to be created by a new breed of multiformat creators.