Skylanders isn’t performing as well as it did last year, and Activision is pointing fingers at Disney, Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony.
Publisher Activision launched Skylanders: Swap Force in October. It’s the third release in the franchise that combines digital games with real toys (which players mostly have to purchase separately). The series is still the No.1 franchise for kids, according to Activision, but it’s down compared to 2012’s Skylanders Giants.
“For Swap Force, as we’ve noted, this is a year unlike past years,” Activision Publishing chief executive Eric Hirshberg said during a conference call with investors. “What we’re seeing this year is that some markets are up and some markets are down. Overall, [Skylanders: Swap Force] is down, which is not unexpected.”
The publisher was expecting this decrease due to new competition from Disney Infinity. That game uses the House of Mouse’s powerful brands, like Pirates of the Caribbean, to draw fans into spending money on the game and special interactive toy sets. It’s a very similar experience to Skylanders with a lot more brand recognition.
Hirshberg likewise pointed to Pokémon as a competitor that is drawing away children from Skylanders. That game launched a bit before Skylanders and sold 4 million copies in two days.
And finally, the CEO also noted that the upcoming consoles from Sony and Microsoft are causing some issues for Skylanders at retail.
“Our quantitative research shows that [the upcoming Xbox One and PlayStation 4] are among the top reasons that intent to purchase the game among parents is down,” said Hirshberg. “They are hesitating.”
Regardless of these issues and the slower adoption compared to the 2012 release, Activision remains confident in Skylanders: Swap Force.
“There are a couple things to remember,” said Hirshberg. “One, the vast majority of our sales for this game come in November and December. Two, we also have the best game in the franchise’s history. Three, the toy-attach rate is as high ever. And four, awareness and purchase intent is as strong as ever.”
Skylanders: Swap Force is available now for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, Wii U, and 3DS. It will debut on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One later this month.