Crisis/Opportunity in the Games and Toy Businesses


Beth-header
Beth Rogozinski is a serial
entrepreneur, published author, and former college instructor with over twenty
years in the media technology industry in strategy, production and
marketing
.  She was on the founding team
of the world renown Multimedia Studies Program at SFSU and was the Executive
Director of the DigiQuest Learning Center. During her tenure at Silicon
Graphics (SGI)
, Beth helped create and launch a new multimillion dollar consumer
products division.  After SGI, Beth
founded Systrum Media Consultants where her clients included many dot.com and
Web 2.0 start-ups as well as established companies such as 3Ware and
Macromedia.  While working at Macromedia,
Beth helped launch the digital video editing software, Final Cut, which was
then sold to Apple. Beth also served as the VP of Client Services for West
Coast Operations for Circle, a full service ad and brand agency that was
acquired by Havas. After completing an MBA, Beth joined Devicescape, a
Kleiner-Perkins funded start-up and executed three successful product launches
including launches into Europe. 


Beth has founded games and apps
companies including Signal 2 Productions 
and D2S Games..   She is an
advisor to many start-ups and non-profits such as Kleenslate Concepts, the
Mobile Monday Momentum Accelerator, Grimm Bros Games and Wise Old Duck Games.  Most recently, Beth founded Transmedia SF, an
agency/studio/incubator/salon with the aim of accelerating the transmedia
revolution across industries and around the world. 
Hear Beth speak at the World Congress of Play in San Francisco.


Cccc
Wake
up and smell the crisis:  Whether you’re
on the toy side of the business or the digital video game side – the Games and
Toys Business is undergoing disruption.

The
US toys and games market saw four years of decline from 2007 to 2011.
  Even with new and fast growing markets in
China and India helping to prop the traditional toys business up – the holiday
season of 2012 was the Year of the Tablet.[1]

While
the video game industry saw rapid and spectacular growth from 2007 to 2011, bucking
all trends of the larger toy and traditional game markets, by 2012, most growth
had stopped and fortunes began to reverse.
 
Reports circulated about the end of the boom with many – from the NY
Times to Wired to CNBC – asking Is It Game over
for the Gaming Industry?

By
2013, Zynga’s flat IPO of 2011 paled in comparison to its paltry stock price
and it, along with EA and other stalwarts in the space were laying off droves
of developers and designers and reporting deep declines in sales and revenues. 
LucasArts – sold to Disney earlier in the
year – has been shuttered and all staff laid off.  Smaller players in the space have been
shifting focus – to mobile, free to play – and other strategies to stay ahead
of the competition and declining revenues. 
Indie game makers have struggled as well:  funding is harder to get, as is attention with
now nearly 1 million apps in the iTunes app store alone. 

But
through all of this gloom and doom there are a few stars and standoutsall of
whom have embraced true transmedia strategies
including creating open worlds,
crowd-sourcing and integrated toy offerings. 
Minecraft, the open world building game, reportedly made Mojang, it’s
small Swedish game studio of just 32 employees, over $240M in 2012 alone.  Skylanders, the mythical adventure game and
toy set, has made it into Activision’s billion dollar earner club and the title
continues to grow and expand its storyworld and real life offerings.   The long awaited Disney Infinity platform pledges
to transform the company into a huge game company and it promises to bring the
best of Minecraft and Skylanders together: 
an open “toy-box” world that integrates into but expands on foundational
stories pulled from the expansive and

growing Disney/Pixar oeuvre.   Dean
Takahashi of GameBeat/VentureBeat refers to the Disney strategy as entering “a
cross-platform toy and game war” with Activisio
n, but also acknowledges that
the move is a huge investment in transmedia. 
Most leaders in the toys and games businesses must acknowledge and
examine these transmedia trends if they are to survive and thrive.

There
are successful and replicable facets of Minecraft, Skylanders and Disney
Infinity project that any toy or game manufacturer can explore and integrate

into their offerings.  As tablets and
video games continue to garner more time and attention from our kids – toy
makers need to figure out how to be integrated into these offerings and benefit
from the amount of time spent in the digital realm.  Likewise, video game makers need to realize
that kids still want to play with real life toys and their parents want this
too.  Having a real life toy component to
your game not only adds value to your game and storyworld, it can be a valuable
differentiator for marketing and can add a much needed revenue lift
as
traditional game monetization models keep racing to bottom level pricing
structures. 

Not
every game needs a storyworld, a toy or a transmedia strategy, but in these
days of crisis – opportunity cannot be found in flight – only in fight.  And in building a whole new world of
fun. 

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