Toys Blend With Videogames Even More With Activision’s Skylanders

Activision is preparing to launch a new videogame in two weeks that blends virtual worlds with physical toys.

On sale Oct. 16, the game, called Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure, represents a major deviation from the company’s hugely successful war-based Call of Duty.

The game melds physical toys with videogames by using a “portal,” which is plugged into the console. Once an official Skylanders toy is placed on the portal, the character transports into the game and comes to life on the screen.

The game is similar to one announced recently by Disney that uses miniature toy cars and an iPad. In this case, kids place the physical toy on the iPad’s screen to interact with the game, which is based on the movie “Cars 2.”

Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing, told me in a phone interview that Skylanders has “got a couple real innovative stories to tell.”

Not only does the game enable physical toys to come to life inside of a virtual world, Hirshberg said, it also can be played cross-platform. “The toys travel from console to console and to the Web, and they remember everything that happens to them,” he said.

That means a child’s chosen character will remember what level it has attained and transfer that information from the player’s Nintendo Wii to an Xbox or Sony PlayStation at a friend’s house. Players will also be able to pick up where they left off on Android, iOS, Nintendo’s 3DS and online.

“If you play on your Wii and level up to 10 and then go to the Xbox, those all go with you,” Hirshberg said. “And then, on a road trip, you can log in to the iPhone version and the same thing happens.”

Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure will have more than 30 different characters.

The plot is about a mysterious world that has been taken over by a sinister Portal Master known as Kaos, who has frozen the Skylanders as toys and banished them to Earth. The players are charged with helping to return these heroes back to their world.

In a release yesterday, Activision said the games would be on display in Toys“R”Us as soon as this weekend, to get the buzz started ahead of the holidays.

Toys“R”Us Chairman and CEO Jerry Storch said, “We believe that the product line will be one of this holiday’s hottest gifts, and we can’t wait to offer customers a one-of-a-kind way to discover Skylanders at our stores.”

A $70 starter pack includes a copy of the game (on PlayStation 3, Xbox or Nintendo Wii), three Skylanders characters, the portal of power, a character poster, trading cards, stickers, Web codes and batteries.

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