Merchandising Games

Merchandising games has been common practice for some time.  Some games are able to take it to an extreme, like Angry Birds, and make more money selling their shirts, plushies, toys, costumes, and tchotchkes than they do their $0.99 app.

Angry Birds Star Wars Toys R Us

World of Warcraft has the figures — not quite action figures — and the card game, board game, and books.  Books are a common first step.  I think I’ve seen more MMO’s start off with books than anything else.

Personally, I love this stuff.  Something about taking the game beyond being just a game and allowing people to attach their identity to the brand or property excites me.  One of the coolest jobs ever would be coming up with ways to make games into toys and other merchandise. Maybe that is where I’ll end up career-wise.

What do you all think?  Do you get as excited about game merchandise as I do, or do you think it’s lame?  A few years ago it would have been something I hid in my room, but now I happily wear a Zerg shirt to class.

  • This is an extension of the original post. I’ve come up with more ideas.

    One of the biggest connections that I ever had to toys was a TV show. It helped my imagination come up with a way to play with the toy, to understand the character I was playing with, and to give those I played with a common framework from which to base our actions. For example, everyone knew what the TMNT were about, how they acted, and how to properly play with them.

    I think games are easily beginning to enter into that same realm. I don’t know if a kid is necessarily going to play Dishonored, but after seeing the game in action the idea of action figures sounds amazing because I know how they would come to life for me.

    Taking it further, what about TV shows from games? We certainly get games from TV shows.

  • If the stuff is great sure. If it adds to the imagination I’m all for it. Goodness knows one of my son’s has about 15 stuffed angry birds. That phase is now over (He’s all Minecraft) and we have to find a place to keep em, ahhaha.

    P.S. If you not playing Bad Piggies your missing a GREAT GAME!

  • I think most merchandising is great! Put out as much stuff as the market can afford. But there is a point where it’s bad – where the merchandising replaces or influences content.

    Video games are a specific medium. When you’re generating content and ideas for it, you have to do it in the context of that medium. So any merchandise you make is adjunct to that medium – either things to improve the experience or just luxury items. However, I think that books are rather a danger so far as merchandise goes.

    Now, I love reading. But books are not the same medium as video games. Anything you put into a book requires an individual to jump mediums in order to consume the content.

    This is not bad when you’re conveying parts of your story or your world that are, again, adjunct to the content you consume in the game. Background material, the tales of minor characters, and so on. But when a company finds it is cheaper to produce a book than put that content into their game, you run into an issue. Because the moment you require medium-jumping in order to properly consume your video content (I’m looking at you, WoW), you’re violating an implicit agreement to deliver a complete product.

    And this is aside from the quality issues of trying to translate assumptions across mediums. Infinite resurrection in games is fine; in a textual medium it’s more difficult. Presenting a character through a 3D model is different than through prose description. This is not to say I’m completely against crossing or mixing mediums, just that it needs to be done on the terms of the story you’re trying to tell, or else you risk severely hurting your franchise.

  • I love Lore books, stories written by people who know the actual game lore.
    I also occasionally wear a game based T-Shirt out, but that’s mostly cus it amuses me to see people reactions.
    Most game merchandise is far to tacky/poor quality

  • When I wear my Zerg shirt to class it’s basically like a radar that tracks gamers. Anyone who sees my shirt and smirks has instantly outed themselves. 😀 I also have a few Team Fortress 2 shirts.

  • That is why I think skylanders is such a brilliant idea. You play your character in a game and have a physical toy. My 3 year old son is begging me to buy some for him.