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The partnership introduces the first-ever toy line to hit the market with an accompanying metaverse experience, said Yonatan Raz-Fridman, CEO of Supersocial, in an interview with GamesBeat.
In 2023, entertainment company Toikido expects to launch a new toy line dubbed Piñata Smashlings. And it will have an accompanying world on the Roblox platform to be developed by Supersocial, based in Columbus, Ohio.
“We have partnered together to build the game world on Roblox, and it will be launched at the same time as the toys and that’s a big part of what’s unique here,” said Raz-Fridman. “It’s never really been done before.”
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Toikido’s founders including CEO Darran Garnham have a history in the entertainment industry. The company is working with Skydance Animation, Netflix, Roblox, Topps, Innersloth, Boneloaf, and VaynderMedia. That’s why Supersocial has teamed up with them, Raz-Fridman said. Garnham said internet personality Gary Vaynerchuk invested in Toikido and is helping the company.
“We have merchandise rights for some big games, including Among Us,” Garnham said. “This will be our first owned intellectual property launch. As a dad of three kids, it will be nice to make some money back from the platform I’ve invested so much in as a dad.”
Roblox indeed has a lock on kids and a lot of other people, as it has 52 million daily active players. By targeting that audience, Toikido and Supersocial think of what they’re building as a metaverse-first intellectual property.
The simultaneous launch of the toy line with the Roblox game world aims to bring consumers a holistic experience that can be accessed both physically and virtually, as an immersive, hyper-social way to interact with the new intellectual property.
“The Roblox game world is the epicenter of the of the new IP,” Raz-Fridman said.
The game has a seven-figure development budget.
“We’re talking about a large, persistent virtual world that is going to be built with the ambition of building Nintendo quality in the game experience within the Roblox platform,” Raz-Fridman said.
Of course, the strategy is risky. Both Activision and Disney tried to combine games and toys with the Skylanders and Disney Infinity projects. They did well at the outset, but they lost their luster and the companies got stuck with unsold inventory that eventually tanked the business.
The Piñata Smashlings toy line will bring the Piñataverse world to life in plush, collectibles and play sets. Toys will begin rolling into the market mid-2023. Launching with a Roblox game to complement the physical toy experience is part of the strategy to not only establish a stronger connection with fans, but allow fans of the toys to connect and socialize with one another through online play.
“Our Roblox game is a fundamental piece of our content planning,” said Garnham. “The way Roblox connects with fans is amazing, as a dad of three children I have seen the positive nature of the way kids interact with the platform and their friends.”
For partner company Supersocial, one of the leading developers and publishers on the Roblox platform, Piñata Smashlings is slated to be one of the most ambitious projects to date.
“The opportunity to create an immersive virtual world with such a strong connection to a real-world product shows us the true potential of the metaverse,” said Raz-Fridman. “As a kid, imagine being able to have a physical toy, but then also meeting up with friends to socialize and play in a game world created for that toy — or on the flipside, collecting physical toys from a game you and your friends love. As metaverse platforms evolve to play a larger role in people’s lives, we will begin to see more and more crossovers like this.”
Toikido had a huge global success with its Among Us partnership, with toys based on the game IP selling in more than 70 countries. This next step illustrates the company’s ambition to offer consumers a differentiated, multi-touchpoint experience with its products, Garnham said.
The Roblox experience has already been in development for a few months at Supersocial and it is set to launch in conjunction with the release of the toys in mid-2023. Toikido has about eight employees.
Supersocial raised $5.2 million in September 2021 to make games for the Roblox platform. Supersocial has about 20 people.
Raz-Fridman and his fellow serial entrepreneur Pedro Romi, chief financial officer, started the company in June 2020. They had previously started Kano and Retroca, two venture-backed consumer tech and internet companies. They were joined by cofounders Luiza Justus, creative director, and Tatiana Wlasek, vice president of marketing and people experience.
Supersocial has been making Roblox games for two years. It debuted with Ghostopia, a scary game. And then it created NARS Color Quest, a brand partnership project. Raz-Fridman said that one has gone well in recent months.
“We built one of the most successful brand worlds on the Roblox platform with NARS Color Quest, we we really outperformed most brand worlds on the platform where monetization is not a high priority in terms of the objective for the brands.”
One of the big goals for the brands is community engagement. So is brand awareness and brand positioning. With Toikido, Supersocial is working on building a self-sustaining brand from scratch alongside the toy company. It will be a persistent world and the hope is it will monetize well through things such as toy sales. Supersocial gets to share in any economic upside.
“We’re looking at this as a multi-year endeavor just like some of the most successful games on the Roblox platform today,” Raz-Fridman said. “There is definitely a distinction between how Toikido and Supersocial approached this project versus how we have approached different brand worlds where the ambition was different.”
Toikido’s team has worked in the past closely with Gary Vaynerchuk, an internet personality. And Garnham said Toikido hopes that Vaynerchuk and his friends will be an asset in bringing attention to the Toikido toys and online experience.
“We’ve really gathered this community and we’re working with big social media talent on TikTok and Twitch,” Garnham said. “When we launch, we will have a network of several hundred million followers on different platforms that we can get to support us on the game launch.”
Raz-Fridman said that the partnership won’t be aggressive on monetization early on, as it’s a strategic investment both companies are making over a longer period.
“We’re super aligned n what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and how we would like to grow the property and the community on the platform and beyond it,” Raz-Fridman said. “I think we’re also starting to see the evolution and maturity of Roblox, where there are serious investments coming to the platform.”
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