Friday, August 17, 2007

Miniclip's New Robot Army

On the retail distribution and online games front, here’s an interesting, not-quite-officially announced online game. It’s a collaboration between RC2, makers oGames at - Battle Wheelsf fine radio-controlled products, and Miniclip, the online game portal. The game is called Battle WheelsT and it’s tied in, via codes, to RC2’s Battle Wheels robots, pictured in this post and retailing for $29.99. All consumers can play the Battle Wheels game but those who purchase a robot at retail will receive a special in-game item, the “golden armor.” The game serves as a promotional tool for the robots and the robots serve as a promotional tool for the game. Either way the consumer is introduced to the product, the brand is reinforced.

Giving away something entertaining/collectible separate from the product being purchased is at least as old as sticking baseball cards in Old Judge tobacco (i.e. the 1880s), but the combination of the online and offline worlds could be a new and explosive mixture. For evidence, we could cite the normal example here of Webkinz, but let’s use TimesSelect access when you subscribe to the tree-made New York Times.

Consumers already see their lives as seamless, yet the companies providing them goods and services keep erecting walls between their online and offline lives. After all, even users running around in an immersive 3D environment are still sitting in meatspace in front of a computer. There’s no escaping that, at least not yet.

(I love that this product foreshadows two posts I’m working on, one about retail front ends for online services and the other a post about the Chinese Webkinz.)

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At August 18, 2007 at 1:25 PM , Blogger gretch0r said...

Slightly related to your post, but maybe not, I assume you've heard of Bionicle?

A few years ago, while living in Seattle, I was hanging out (term used loosely) with my friend's 6-year-old brother and he wanted to watch Bionicle: Mask of Light. Yeah, OK, sure. We'll watch it. By the end of the film, I sat there mildly astonished, "Wow! That kind of awesome."

I'm mainly interested in Bionicle not because it's "kind of awesome," but because of Lego's intensions. Bionicle is the first in "in the company's history intended to last for multiple years - in fact, Lego is currently following a plan involving seven multi-year story arcs, providing a framework for roughly twenty years of storyline."

Unless I have the chronology wrong, I believe Lego created the action figures, and then LATER introduced the flash web comics, direct-to-video films, and comic books. (Btw, the action figures rule. I have the Toa Inika Matoro [see image], and the sword lights up with a strobe effect, it has a "sphere launcher," and the eyes glows in the dark.)

Moreover, the comic book writer even frequents the online forums and answers questions...

Again, only slightly related to your post.

-gretchen (egging)

At August 21, 2007 at 2:44 PM , Blogger Alexis Madrigal said...

Hey Gretchen! I had heard about Bionicle, but not really looked too deeply into its mask of light. I wonder what it must be like to be one of the writer/designers of those story arcs. Maybe I'll try to get an interview with that guy Greg.

I wonder if kids notice the sophistication of their toys and the branding around them. We were forced to endure such slapdashery around the plots of, say, Bugs Bunny cartoons.


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