This is the second and final article regarding trends spotted at New York Toy Fair. (You can read Part 1 by clicking HERE.) In this article I’m going to talk about continuing trends that we saw in 2011 and before.
CONTINUING TREND: Cooperative Games
Peaceable Kingdom’s booth grew this year and includes many more of their signature “cooperative play” games. I recently reviewed one of their new titles, Feed the Woozle, but their booth was packed with new games like Peggy Brown’s Snug as a Bug in a Rug. A surprising entry into the cooperative play area is Spin Master with their new family game, Volcano Countdown.
CONTINUING TREND: iPhone/iPad Integration
Not much of a surprise here, but Hasbro really jumped on this bandwagon this year with many new titles requiring the use of Apple products. The Game of Life zAPPed and Monopoly zAPPed are board games plus an app you need to download onto an iPhone, iPod Touch or an iPad. Battleship zAPPed is similar, but you can only use an iPad to play. You’ll need your iPhone or iPod Touch and a downloaded app for the new Lazer Tag blaster. When your iPhone or iPod is inserted it’s a little screen so you can run around, shoot stuff, see it on the screen and the best part (and the part the First Lady will love) you’re not sitting on your couch!
As for technology we’ve already seen, Discovery Bay Games was still showing Duo and Identity Games still had a lot of interested customers looking at Game Changer in their booth.
CONTINUING TREND: Brand Building
Brand extensions and expansion packs were seen in booths of all sizes. There were new “junior” versions like Spot It Jr. and ThinkFun’s PathWords Jr. Word on the Street got an expansion pack, while Educational Insights’ Blurt! got a travel tin and Zobmondo’s Would You Rather got a “Late Night” Edition. Connect 4 Dunk is one of Hasbro’s many new line extensions and Patch introduced a Farkle card game called Farkle Flip. And this is really just the tip of the iceberg.
SOMETHING TO WATCH: A Boy/Girl Division at Hasbro
Hasbro’s lineup of children’s game and been gender-ized! (yes, I made that word up) Classic games like Candy Land, Twister, Clue and Connect 4 have been redesigned to appeal to one gender. Connect 4 is no longer yellow and blue, now it’s black, gold and red with very masculine packaging. The Connect 4 line extension, Connect 4 Dunk, will have a basketball themed commercial that will target boys. Obviously, with the Battleship movie on the horizon, we all know that Battleship is solidly in the boy’s group of game and that will continue, and Clue will join the ranks of boy’s products with this year’s into Clue Eliminiation. On the other end of the spectrum, Candy Land and Twister are going to be girls’ products. Candy Land Princesses and a new version of Twister Dance featuring Britney Spears were featured in the Hasbro showroom.
I’ll admit that I’m sad to see Connect 4 go to the boys, but I think it will be interesting to see how gender-izing previously gender neutral games will go. I believe the idea is to be more successful marketing the product as it’s easier to target girls with girly ads and vice versa. I think girls will still play with products for boys, but I wonder if boys will be missing out on the opportunity to enjoy classic titles like Twister because they’ll think it’s too “girly.” Guess we’ll have to wait and see…
TRENDS THAT WE’VE MOVED PAST
Some of trends I saw last year that I didn’t see this year:
1. Tile Placement Games: Last year I felt there were an abundance of tile placement games ala Blokus, but this year the only new tile game I recall seeing was PathWords Jr. from ThinkFun.
2. Letter Games: Games with letter cubes, cards or tiles are introduced pretty regularly, but last year there was a deluge of new letter games like Kabam from Educational Insights and Letter Go! from ThinkFun (which I don’t believe ever made it to store shelves). I’m sure there were a handful of new letter games this year, but nowhere near the number I saw last year.
3. In-A-Row Games: Like “letter” games, new takes on “in-a-row” style gaming are always popping up, but again not in the numbers I saw last year. Even Connect 4‘s new introduction Connect 4 Dunk isn’t about getting 4 in a row, but the first to get a certain number of tokens launched into the vertical token holder. Guess the launcher portion of Connect 4 Launchers was deemed the successful part of the game!
4. Tiered Games: I saw a bunch of tiered games last year but I don’t recall seeing a single new tiered game this year. I’m sure I missed the one new one but definitely wasn’t a trend anymore.