Santaluces High School

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Santaluces High School

The Tribe

Santaluces High School

The Tribe

Boynton Beach


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The Genre Lost to Time: Toys to Life

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Cole Montag
[Left] Dark Samus (Amiibo) and [Right] Boba Fett (Disney Infinity)

Nintendo’s release of the final Smash Bros. Ultimate amiibo “Sora” only shows how far the toys-to-life genre has fallen over the years. Toys-to-life games are video games requiring some sort of figurine or card to play, using either NFC (near field communication) or RFID (radio frequency identification) to work. Concepts like this have been around since R.O.B. or the NES Zapper, it started blowing up with the release of Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure in 2011. There were many other games using this over the next few years, such as LEGO Dimensions, Disney Infinity, and even some Nintendo games that supported Amiibo. However, after 2017, most of these were discontinued or shut down, and left many asking why.

While I didn’t play many growing up, I was an avid fan of Disney Infinity, a series of games revolving around Disney’s franchises and its creative “Toy Box.” You could play stories based on Disney, Pixar, Marvel, or Star Wars properties or create your own levels and worlds in the Toy Box. The series had three games: the original, 2.0 adding Marvel, and 3.0 adding Star Wars. There was a planned 4.0, but it was discontinued after Disney shut down its games branch because they “did not have enough confidence in the business in terms of being stable enough to stay in it.” To understand this decision, we have to look at companies’ actions when the genre blew up.

Considering it had 3—almost 4—games, you would have expected the franchise to have lasted for many years, but the first game was released in 2013, with a new game released every year until Avalanche Software was closed down. This holds for Skylanders, too, having 6 mainline games, not counting the spinoffs. Other games didn’t last long enough to make sequels, but had the genre continued, they would’ve followed suit.

The genius, yet money-hungry, decision made for these games was to have most content locked behind $15 or $20 paywalls each, with Disney Infinity having at least 300 toys alone, including over a hundred fully fleshed-out characters (not including the Crystal or Light FX versions of some). Meanwhile, LEGO released around 60 sets that worked with Dimensions, Nintendo released over 200 Amiibo figures (not including the cards), and Skylanders had over 600 toys to collect.

LEGO Dimensions was able to accommodate all toys in one game, and Amiibo can work on many different games, you had to continue buying games from Disney and Hasbro to use the new toys, and it’d be expensive to get even a few new characters. The answer to my original question, like always, was corporate greed. These were amazing games, fun for all ages, and, in Disney Infinity’s case, a haven for creativity both off and online. While EA gets criticism for its microtransactions over the years, companies did this for several years with the genre, blocking great games behind hundreds of dollars worth of paywalls.

Though games have worsened in quality over the past few years, especially with their polish, bugs, and graphics, it was a great decision to move on from this rip-off of a genre, leaving it and all its microtransactions to be forgotten.

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About the Contributor
Cole Montag, Staff Writer
Hello there, friendly neighborhood pixel artist Cole Montag reporting to you! This year is a lot of firsts for me, especially for the school and the Tribe but I'm glad to be here nonetheless. Most of the time, you'll see me making art, gaming, and helping run the Chiefs ESports team (probably dealing with homework too, but I don't care for that). I'll usually write on pop culture and media so stay tuned for movie or game reviews. I've got nothing left to say, so if you want to see more from me, check out my articles or my pixel art on Instagram!

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