Were not even 2 months into 2013 and the industry toy/game fair season is already over. Hong Kong, London, Nuremberg went first and then the final hurrah is New York Toy Fair which ended last week. For the first time in what feels like ages I didn’t spend Valentine’s Day walking the aisles of Javits – and oddly Marti Gras and Chinese New Year came and went during the show and I barely noticed. Are we taking things more seriously this year? Maybe. Companies seemed to be putting out relatively “safe” products this year and as usual there were a couple trends I identified that I’d like to share with all of my wonderful readers.
TREND: Year of the Geek/Brain and the rise of the single-player “game”
I walked away from New York Toy Fair this year thinking it must be the “year of the geek” as brainy products seemed to reign. First, more and more companies are putting out single player “games” – and I used that in quotes as I’ve gotten into far too many debates on whether we should count those as “games” or “puzzles.” Since there are so many of them and most are being released by game companies I would be doing a disservice by not mentioning them. Also Perplexus won the TOTY for “Game of the Year” so it looks like they’re part of our category in the eyes of the industry. Don’t agree? Skip this part and I’ll talk more about classic games in a bit.
So Perplexus takes the TOTY and has now been licensed by Spin Master. Solo game manufacturer, SmartGames, had a great looking booth for the second year in a row. Fat Brain Toys is still going strong with their line of solo games and the real kicker – Gamewright has a whole new line of solo puzzles/games called Brainwright. They even had their own catalogue for the line! ThinkFun no longer seems to have a monopoly on solo player games – although they’ve definitely got some evergreen classics in their line. (Chocolate Fix anyone?)
Also within the “year of the geek” Mental Floss has a few new games that you know will be “brainy.” I also found abstract strategy game Terzetto from Gamewright and the geeky party/trivia game Geek Out! from Playroom Entertainment interesting.
TREND: Games Are Getting Younger
Last year ThinkFun had an amazing amount of success with their Roll and Play game for children 18 months and up. Now I had always been taught that games were typically for ages 3 and up, and more often for ages 4 and up, but now we’re seeing companies break that rule with cute products to get kids into games sooner. Following up their success, ThinkFun has another plush release called Hello Sunshine. SmartGames also launched their adorable Bunny Peek A Boo game for children 2+. Even my game from Educational Insights, Raccoon Rumpus, (very shameless plug) is aimed right at that 3 year old child.