My favourite marketing play this Christmas

Every Christmas one of the toys I get my kids impresses the marketer in me in one way or another. This year it was a new game for the Wii: Skylanders, created by Activision. I hadn’t even heard of this one before the holidays, it’s the experience that impressed me.

With most games you buy the disc, maybe there’s an attempt at an online community or web component, perhaps some merch if it gets really popular, but for the most part the company makes its money on the sale of the disc and that’s it. This one is different. The game comes with three little plastic figures. You place a figure on the “portal” and that is the character you play. Right away, it becomes more than a video game, it becomes tactile. That in itself is brilliant, and the hook. It’s also similar to what made the Wii popular to begin with. What they do with the hook is pure genius.

There are dozens of characters. Each with different abilities and powers that are needed to unlock certain parts of the game. How do you get access to these other characters? You buy them for $8 to $12 each. You could play the whole game with just the three characters you get with it, but you would miss more than half of the secret areas-which are not so secret that you don’t know you are missing them.

If you bought all the characters, I’d venture you would spend another $300 on top of the $70 you spent on the game.

I love it, what a brilliant play. And the games not bad either.

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