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Activision preps two more Skylanders mobile games for this year

Activision’s mobile gaming division plans to launch two more Skylanders-themed games for smartphones and tablets in November.

The company announced today that it will launch two new iOS (Apple iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad) games that extend the kid-focused role-playing fantasy battle game Skylanders into the mobile realm.The new titles include Skylanders Lost Islands and Skylanders Battlegrounds. Activision has sold more than 40 million Skylanders character toys to go with the portals and video games that it has built for all of the major game platforms.

The move today shows that mobile gaming is becoming a new avenue for investment, even among the largest console game companies. Back in April, Activision launched its first Skylanders game, Skylanders Cloud Patrol, and the title reached more than a million downloads. It also took the top-paid app rank for a time. That success encouraged Activision Blizzard, which is huge in console and PC video games but tiny in mobile, to set up its Activision Mobile Publishing partnership with Flurry.

The mobile games now feature a new Bluetooth-connected wireless portal. If you put a Skylanders toy on the Bluetooth portal in Skylanders Battlegrounds, it shows up in the iOS game as a playable character, said Karthik Bala (pictured), head of Activision’s Vicarious Visions game studio, in an interview with GamesBeat. You can easily pair the wireless portal with an iPad or other device using a few swipes on the touchscreen. The portal is not required to play the mobile games, which can be played with digital-only characters if you wish.

The new mode available in the upcoming games is Showdowns, where you can fight against your friends. A new Showdown will be launched every day. You can do a challenge like “hat hustler,” where you shoot as many hats off the top of a troll’s head  in five minutes. Showdowns is powered by Activate, a new platform from the company for logging in, registering, creating an account, and then inviting your friends to play with you. It’s a kind of mobile gaming social network for Activision games. Future Activision games will all use Activate. If you meet and play more friends, you can get more points awarded. You can also send push notifications that will tell a player who is challenging him or her.

“You can challenge a player and it takes them right into the game,” he said.

Back in June, Activision’s mobile chief Greg Canessa told us that his company’s entry into mobile and its alliance with analytics firm Flurry were strategic moves. And more recently, Activision launched a Skylanders game on the Amazon Kindle Fire tablet.

The Skylanders Lost Islands is a resource management social mobile game that you can play with all your characters. Your job is to help restore islands that have been destroyed by the enemy Kaos. Skylanders Battlegrounds is an action role-playing game. It uses the same engine for powering the graphics as is used in the Skylanders Giants console game. The Battlegrounds game will work with the new Bluetooth portal. On a high level, you look at a large strategic map and figure out where you need to attack the army of Kaos. You move into the same area as enemies and then move into a battle.

You can play two characters at once in Battlegrounds and you can fling attacks at different enemies. It’s a tactical combat game. You can download the game from the Apple iTunes App Store and you can pay to unlock characters. You can also earn new characters through game play. If you have only a digital version of the toy, you can call for help from friends. It costs you in-game currency to do that. You can also use the portal to swap out characters and bring a new physical character into the iOS game. The game is told in multiple chapters and those will be updated over time.


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