Video games for all ages seems to be more and more difficult to find as the gaming industry matures. Polygon analyzed the data collected from the Entertainment Software Association’s most recent annual report to determine what causes developers to create the software that consumers find on the shelves of their local retail or game specialty store.
Gaming continues to increase in popularity. In 2015, 63 percent of households included at least one frequent gamer. However, the statistic that most publishers pay attention to are the average age of today’s gamer. According to the report, the age has increased to 35 for men and a staggering 44 for women.
As the average age of gamers continues to grow, it seems to be more difficult to find games E-rated with children in mind. In the past few years, toys-to-life games have continued to prop up this category with annual releases of games like Disney Infinity, Skylanders, and Lego Dimensions. Beginning in 2017, this list will get a lot smaller.
Disney Interactive took a huge step in 2013 when it pulled the plug on most console and handheld gaming to develop a new platform to deliver content. Infinity would mash up characters from various Disney properties with the promise of them all being playable in a toy box. The toy box would give the player the ability to create their own games including platform, racing, and to a degree adventure games.
The initial release was promising for Infinity. It featured the popular Monster and Incredibles series from Pixar as well as the live action hit Pirates of the Caribbean. Add on sets included Cars, the Lone Ranger, and Toy Story. It was well received and Disney firmly established itself at the top of the toys-to-life category as well as video games for all ages.
With the cost to produce the figures not getting any cheaper and licensing deals for their Star Wars property generating a significant amount of income, Disney opted to pull the plug on the Infinity line in May. This left parents with a number of figures that would become obsolete before year’s end, and it put a shadow over the entire genre.
Disney cited lower sales as the reason for stopping production on Infinity according to an Engadget report. It is hard to tell where things went wrong. Some have attributed the decline to lackluster storytelling in the adventure portion of the game, and others have placed the blame on the high cost of figures.
The original toys-to-life participant was Activision’s Skylanders. In 2011, Activision released the first Skylanders game Spyro’s Adventure to rave reviews. The game was designed for all ages, and it quickly became one of the hottest products of that holiday season.
Activision has continued to release an annual Skylanders title including this year’s Skylanders Imaginators. However, if recent reports are believed to be true, Activision may also be leaving the toys-to-life market. YouTuber, Liam Robertson has reported that a 2017 Skylanders game has been canceled. Lower than expected sales of Imaginators seems to be the issue.
With both Skylanders and Infinity no longer players in the market, Lego Dimensions is the sole game in the toys-to-life category. This would put Lego firmly entrenched in video games for all ages. Their licensed Lego games for Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and Jurassic World continue to be mainstays in households with younger gamers.
The only other company that actually caters to all age audiences is Nintendo. Properties like Mario, Yoshi, and Splatoon have propped the ailing Wii U console up. However, with the Nintendo Switch on its way in March 2017, Nintendo seems to be courting an older audience. In the October preview, not a single child was shown with the new system.
Do you feel like video games for all ages are on the decline? What are some of your favorite E-rated titles?
[Feature Image by Activision/Blizzard]