News Article

Skylanders Trap Team Tablet Starter Pack Poses a Fresh Challenge to Consoles

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Nintendo must fight to retain its important role in the series

Skylanders Trap Team is the latest entry in the hugely popular series, published by Activision, with its arrival and new toy range expected to bring major sales to retailers. The title is coming to Wii U, Wii and 3DS, along with multiple other platforms, and the Wii in particular has often been a successful system for the series; Nintendo no doubt hopes to convert some of that sizeable audience across to Wii U.

Activision's latest announcement, however, is sure to make Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft rather nervous. Though the franchise has had some apps and separate games on smart devices, the full Trap Team game is now coming to tablet devices. Parents will still have to put down cash for the Starter Pack — pictured above — which will cost £65 in the UK; it'll come with a bluetooth enabled portal — in which a tablet can be clipped — and a special wireless controller designed for children, along with two toys and Traps. The app will be free, which is irrelevant considering the Starter Pack is required to get anything out of the game, and there will be touch controls as alternatives when not using the controller.

As mentioned above, this will be the full console game, apparently comparable to the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions, with versions on iPad, Android tablets and Amazon's Fire range; the danger for consoles is that many households have a relatively modern tablet device available, and this strips away the need for owning a console to keep up with the franchise. Paul Reiche, president and co-founder of developer Toys for Bob, said the following to BBC.

We know we have a huge audience of kids that are gaming almost exclusively on tablets.

I feel like this is a legitimate audience for us to address. We really wanted to make sure that we could invest and give a complete 'triple-A' [big budget] choice that is one-to-one with our consoles.

Of course, Nintendo is bringing its amiibo range — with its alternative model of toys working in multiple games — to the market this year, while Disney Infinity 2.0 will also be competing. With Skylanders being such a valuable release to the console manufacturers, however, this smart device release — and the precedent it sets — could be rather worrying.


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User Comments (56)



PigmaskColonel said:

You know, I used to like Skylanders.

Then I realized that Activision's last two titles are starting to feel stale...and it's a money pit as well.



ryanator008 said:

I doubt anyone using a tablet to play video games has the mental capacity to play something that isn't just something that plays itself and asks for money.



0utburst said:

I applaud Activision because why the hell not. I'm glad Nintendo isn't bringing their games on tablets and mobile but they could use amiibo/AR cards (some phones have NFC) on tablets/mobile for their Nintendo related apps (if there will be) to increase awareness on their offerings. It could be a good for them.



gage_wolf said:

Hmm, I'll be interested to see how well this does. While I think we're fine with Nintendo's current offerings for now, hopefully they have their research & development teams working like mad on whatever comes next, because everyone else is gunning for relevance with some pretty interesting stuff.



Shadowflash said:

@ryanator008 Well that's a bit insulting. Just because you play games on a tablet doesn't mean your mental capacity is any less than the next person.



mystman12 said:

Wow, this seems like a really good move on Activision's side. I'm pretty sure they're right about how many kids only game on tablets, so I feel like this will sell well for them. Plus, bundling it with a bluetooth controller was an awesome idea.



ejamer said:

Although I feel like the franchise is wearing thin, this is a bold and interesting move by Activision. Expand the potential audience, reduce initial buy-in for some families, and keep the game intact by providing a high-quality experience on tablets? Could be a huge win for them.

Very interested to see how sales bear out. From everything I've seen/heard, tablet-only gamers don't tend to buy full-price games... but Skylanders is a massive franchise so maybe it's got the cachet to sell anyway? Will people who own both a tablet and a home console choose this version over playing on a big screen (portable, private screen might be appealing)?

Battery life might seem like a concern... until you stop and think about the Wii U gamepad battery life. Not so different, eh?



Kyloctopus said:

That's right. Controllers are indeed possible. So shut up, saying mobile games have no controllers.



ejamer said:

Are you gaming, with active bluetooth connections the entire time, when reporting that number? (If so, good for you!) The average tablet doesn't offer that kind of battery life, although I'm sure some do.

Regardless, that just affirms what I'm saying: if people are complaining about tablet battery life then they'd better be just as upset about the Wii U controller.



MoonKnight7 said:


Regardless of where it belongs, it isn't about where it begins, it's about where it ends. No one at the big three is enjoying this business plan.



BertoFlyingFox said:

We (should) all know by now that tablets will play a bigger role in the gaming industry. They're doing this for good reason because they know lots of parents would rather hand off their tablet to the kids, instead of going out and buying an expensive system on top of this expensive bundle.

I think it's a cool alternative and still doesnt really take away from what a console provides, which is a dedicated device playing games at a better quality.

People will buy this and instantly feel the pains of fluctuating battery life, varying un-optimization by tablet make/model, low quality image/controllers, and an uncertain business model going forward. They could cut DLC up and turn it all into in-app purchases.



JamesCoote said:

Makes sense, since a lot more people (esp. kids) have access to a tablet than a console. Looking at the picture, they clearly didn't go in for making it small and portable, so I'd imagine they think this is going to be played in the house rather than on the move. (Also means battery life won't be an issue).

Slightly off topic, but I think the future is in games that span multiple devices. So you sit down to play on console, then continue your game on your mobile whilst out and about. (Or rather, the other way around. You customise your spaceship on the phone, then when you get home from school/work, you can hop onto your PC/console and launch straight into battle). NFC Figurines could be a part of that, especially if, like the amiibo figures, they are used in a more sophisticated way than they are at the moment.



Ren said:

yeah, so weird how defensive people get about this stuff. If a game can handle a port to a tablet its just bad business NOT to do it. To ignore the tablet market is to shut your eyes really tight. Who cares that there are lots of bad games on tablets, don't buy them. there are a small few that are pretty good and with controller support and their power about doubling every couple years it's a more than capable platform for games.
I can be cynical about it too but it'd only be sour grapes because I'd be happy using a tablet and I don't have one.



Ren said:

plus obviously us on these gaming site are the fans who just like playing deep, fun, large console games like they were "meant" to be.
but these discussions always ignore what tablets and phones actually do overall; why people actually get them. If an adult can get one for 4-500$, use e-mail, word processing now, media stuff, surf web, camera apps, calendar stuff, apps useful for most all careers/hobbies, etc., etc. AND games good enough to entertain your young kid for 10-40 min periods how could it possibly be a bad purchase?
you have to consider why a tablet is so great for many, adding even average games to that is a good thing if you're not a total snob.



Mega719 said:

But if you buy this for Wii you get a free download code for Wii U what's the difference? And Swap Force did better on Wii and Wii U so it may continue here



unrandomsam said:

@Ren What is the difference between an ipad on a stand with a horipad displaying to an Apple TV and a Wii U Gamepad on a stand / Pro Controller / Wii U connected to a TV.

Only difference is for stuff that is on the Wii U VC the cost is about 50% or less. (Or you get the Arcade instead of NES version. Or the 360/PS3 version instead of the old Wii one that can be played in backwards compatibility mode if you want)

There is better indie games on iOS that support physical controls.

Most of the stuff on the eshop is absolute garbage as well but what matter is how much good stuff there is. (iOS wins).



Chris77 said:

This must have been on the cards for a while. It must be a concern for Nintendo, but I think a bigger one for MSFT and Sony. Why? Because Skylanders are doing what EA will do and push more and more to tablets. An iPad mirrored to the TV with a gamepad thrown in for the annual FIFA will suffice a lot of people. Add in COD and in a couple of years this will be a major player in terms of volume and revenue. Nintendo has a fall back in that it hasn't given in to its franchises on other platforms, but they do need to figure out how to stay relevant. I'm sure they will, but I think the Wii U slump is coming the way of the other two, well, it might already be hitting MSFT.



Mega719 said:

Plus Wii U(and of course other consoles) may outperform in graphical power which attracts most gamers to a platform. And gamers perform consoles over tablets to play full games



Mk_II said:

AFAIK most tablets - certainly those marketed to kids - have a rather underwhelming GPU? Wonder how this will perform.



Darknyht said:

Let's not ignore that this may be the cheapest way to land a Bluetooth (edit: not sure USB was on the mind) controller for a tablet. Since the lack of a controller being one of the biggest problems with Tablet gaming, if successful this may turn into something painful for console manufacturer's bottom line in the future.

Heck, I might seriously look at it if the controller is priced better than most Bluetooth controllers out there.



Hy8ogen said:

@unrandomsam I'm sorry but the stuff on iOS are just garbage indie or not. True there are genuinely good games on there, but it is so scarce it's negligible. Most of the stuff on there are shovel ware, pay 2 win and cash grabs that offers no depths whatsoever. I own both an Iphone and a Samsung phone so I am well aware what is on there. Even with a gamepad, the controls extremely awful and clunky.

The pathetic state of mobile gaming is going to continue because it is making a lot of revenue on these platforms due to the gargantuan volume. Everybody nowadays either have an android or an Iphone.

Most of the stuff on the eshop is absolute garbage? You're kidding right? Compared to Googleplay and Appstore, it's a freaking gold mine. Sure there are some awful games on the eshop, but to call most of them garbage is comical.

If a person really wants a true gaming experience, a PC/Wii U/PS4/Xbone is a way better solution. Gaming on mobile devices is like going to mcdonalds. Sure you'll get the food to fill your tummy, but they're just junk.

As for Activision, I really think this is a good move. It'll attract people who have no intention on getting game consoles to be able to enjoy this game. If a person wants to get a Wii U/Ps4/Xbone, they probably have some other games they want to play on the platform so this will not affect their decision. IMO anyways.



rjejr said:

The biggest draw for Skylanders in our household is the couch co-op - my sons play together, my wife and I play together - so this is a non-starter for us. There's only 1 controller and a 7" screen doesn't match up to a 52" tv.

But if you have an only child, or only 1 child playing Skylanders, this is a nice way to kick that kid off the tv and let them play on the kitchen table or on the desk in their room.

I don't see this threatening the home consoles any, but the 3DS version may suffer.

Also, I see this getting returned alot, the android selection is very limited, and it doesn't support iPad 1 or 2.

iPads from the 3rd generation onward (that includes the iPad Air and the iPad Mini Retina), the Kindle Fire HDX, the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro, the Tab S, the Note 10.1 (2014) and the Note Pro 12.2.



SCAR said:

There are some good things on iOS and Android, but the junk still outweighs it by like 90%, at best. Besides, the eShop hasn't been around nearly as long, and you really want to compare what has more content? Okay... then...



Gridatttack said:

This is expensive. Why 65 euros for just a lolcontroller, the figures, and a clip of sorts?

I dont think the controller is expensive as a retail game

BTW, I wonder the specs one needs for the game. Might be a battery drainer.




The way I feel about it is, the only Skylanders worth owning are the first two 3DS games, the first iOS game, and the console titles (preferably on PS3 or 360 because they are all on one console along with Disney Infinity which is on one console.)



Kirk said:

Maybe it's just me but this feels wrong.

It feels like everything that's kinda evil and exploitive about this industry rather than any of the good stuff.

I get the same feeling I did with things like Guitar Hero where that series and all the consumers just got milked to death until it finally imploded.

I don't like when companies treat their brands and consumers like that; just exploit as much out them while you can and don't give a second thought to what that means down the line.



Drawdler said:

Is the whole game really free in app form? The FGTV video for this gave me the impression there would be a free demo, but you would need to pay for the whole game. Which makes much more sense, because the app actually gives you two digital Skylanders you can use, and if it were free you could probably beat the main story for free using the digital Skylanders. (Edit: According to IGN's video, you can only play the full game once you register the Portal with it or something, otherwise it's just a demo with a couple chapters.)

Here's how this will work, from what I understand, based on FGTV's video: you CAN play without the Portal (even using the controller without the Portal).

However, you cannot keep a particular Skylander from a toy "stored" in the game and play them without the Portal. When you don't have the Portal, you are given digital Skylanders Instant Snap Shot and Instant Food Fight, recolours of the regular Snap Shot and Food Fight exclusive to the tablet version. They have upgrades and all, but will not be released in toy form, and it seems like they don't connect to any figures.

So... Wanna scan in a particular toy, collect Gold or finish Quests with them on the go, and later scan the progress you made onto the toy? NOPE, stuck with two digital ones and no choice for others, unless you take the Portal and toys with you. It seems to run well and the accessories seem well designed, I'm sure this will work out well for them and plenty will enjoy it- though I personally have no use for it.

I think the main replayability of the games comes from maxing out new Skylanders, and it's a huge missed oppurtunity that you can't store even ONE Skylander on the tablet version to upgrade them/finish Quests in a full portable version, then scan the progress on later. Also, since I already have the Wii U version, I can play off of the TV at home similarly using the GamePad. This is a no-go for me (and the list of compatible tablets I've found doesn't have "iPad Mini", so I couldn't play it anyway ).



unrandomsam said:

@SCAR392 Both of them added support for physical controls after the eshop was up and running. I think the comparison is fair. (Even if it is isn't what matters is how much good stuff is on it how much it costs and whether it is a good version). Obviously without physical controls most things are not playable.



SphericalCrusher said:

Considering getting my son an iPad for Christmas... this would be a nice gift to go with it, but we do have all the Skylander games on console.. so I will see. He does play Skylanders on his 3DS often.



JaxonH said:

It's a sign of the times. Gaming is transitioning to tablets whether we like it or not. And to be honest, I wouldn't mind gaming on a tablet if all my favorite games were on it and I had a proper controller. One by one the games will migrate. 10 years from now we all might be playing on a tablet. Personally, i'm looking forward to it. The convenience can't be matched. And with Apple integrating gamepad support via Bluetooth now, there's nothing holding back the real games from being ported over



JaxonH said:

@ryanator008 I'm sure you know all this but, keep in mind that tablets can drain faster when playing back media and screen brightness plays a big part too. Not to mention, it doesn't matter how good your battery is- after a few years it's going to drain fast. Maybe you had an older model or a used model, or maybe you were playing back a lot of videos and music with the screen cranked way up on full brightness? It could have been a lot of things really. But of all the tablets out there iPad is among the best if not the best, when compared to the competition.

My iPod is a sixth generation model, and I've had it for a few years and I can tell its' battery doesn't hold nearly as long a charge as it used to. It's still not bad considering my cell phone drains in six hours after only having it for year. Apple devices are definitely better than a lot of other mobile media devices when it comes to battery life. I just ordered an iPhone so I'll see how long that battery last before it starts draining like my current Samsung Galaxy does. Can't be any worse that's for sure lol...



ryanator008 said:

Well then. You didn't really say anything to defend that pathetic pile of garbage. All you did was demonstrate that you have the magical ability to be snarky. Congratulations. Have a cookie. (Also coincidentally my school was recently giving away all their dictionaries, so I do have a big expensive one.)



ryanator008 said:

It was a joke, but I do have a very passionate hatred for people that I think are stupid. I do indeed think that anyone who plays all those crappy Farmville clones qualifies as stupid.



IceClimbers said:

Uh oh. That's a scary thought. This means you don't need a console or handheld to play Skylanders. Disney Infinity will soon follow. How long until other games like FIFA, CoD, and Madden follow? Nintendo foresaw this quite a while ago, and I think Microsoft and Sony are now realizing it too. I think we'll see more and more Rise of the Tomb Raider type announcements from all of the big 3 as they try to get as many exclusives as possible so that the games stay on consoles.



ryanator008 said:

No, no, no. No excuses. My Nexus tablet lasted me at least one day no matter what I did with it more than a year after I bought it. My i Pad had to be charged multiple times within the same day from day one when I was actively trying to conserve power. That's inexcusable, especially considering its numerous other problems (elevated price, lack of power, lack of compatibility, terrible interface, etc.).



JaxonH said:

@ryanator008 not making excuses lol. I have no vested interest in what you believe. Believe whatever you want, doesn't make it true though. Joe blow could say he had a Nexus tablet that didn't last 2 hours. You had a bunk tablet if it couldn't last a day. I charge my iPad once every three days. I get home from work at 5 o'clock every day and use it until I go to sleep. So I don't know what else to tell you



IceClimbers said:

Gotta wonder how well the 3DS version of Skylanders Swap Force did last year after releasing the day after Pokemon X/Y.



TheWPCTraveler said:

Disney has already done the same thing, just not fully yet.

Besides, they've pretty much killed the potential sales they had on the console versions. This may very well be the last Skylanders game for consoles.



1wiierdguy said:

The presence of Amiibo on Wii U and 3ds is going to seriously reduce sales of Skylanders and Disney on Nintendo platforms IMHO. I wouldn't be surprised to see these upcoming installments be the last on Nintendo platforms.



kitsunetails8 said:

REALLY? I don't see it anywhere in the comments so I guess I'll have to say it... ahem... IT'S A TRAP!

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