Kids today are being raised in a technologically advanced digital world that provides the ability to personalize and customize their gaming and non-gaming online experiences. 87% of Canadian kids engage in Technology Play (on a computer or video game) and 77% in Mobile Play (on a smartphone or tablet) according to NPD Canada’s Kids Share of Time and Wallet Study. Not only can kids create their own profiles for their favourite games and customize their characters, but in some instances they also have the ability to impact the gameplay experience themselves.
A great example of this type of personalized gameplay is best illustrated by the online game, Roblox, which capitalizes on the increasing demand by gaming consumers for user-generated content, or UGC. Roblox has a whopping 48 million monthly visitors playing the over 22 million user-generated online games that have been created by the players themselves. Given the growth Roblox has been seeing in both their user-generated community as well as the number of monthly players, they recently announced a licensing deal with toy manufacturer Jazwares, to launch a line of action figures and collectibles which are in stores now.
Action figure collectibles grew 60% in 2016 vs a year ago (NPD Canada Retail POS Toy Industry data), underscoring how important digital & online content is in fuelling merchandise sales, particularly in toys. Many of the most popular selling collectibles in Canada are based on online games or digital apps such as Minecraft and Five Nights at Freddy’s. Stikbot, a line of action figure collectibles by Zing Toys that allow kids to create their own stop motion videos to share online using the Stikbot Studios app, rose to be one of the top selling lines this past Holiday.
It is clear that kids are growing up with this technology, they know how to use it and it gives them the platform to not only be creative but share their inspirations with their friends and fellow gamers. We expect to see more growth of these types of toys in the future as technology allows toy manufacturers and developers to integrate online and toy experiences in even more creative and possibly unexpected ways.