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Video Games

The Rise of Video Games

The creeping influence of video game brands on the floor of the New York Toy Fair hints at the emergence of a new powerhouse player in licensing. What’s more, the branded toys and games emerging from this space have broad appeal to both children and adults.

Retail sales of licensed merchandise based on video game/interactive/online-based properties amounted to $61 million in 2016, up from $59 million in 2015, according to TLL’s Annual Licensing Business Survey.

Hot properties on the floor included, in no particular order: Minecraft, Overwatch, Mario, Pokémon, Mega Man, Five Nights at Freddy’s, Halo, Destiny, Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, Hello Neighbor, Silent Hill, Rocket League, Bendy and the Ink Machine, Angry Birds, and Mortal Kombat. The one exception? Yo-Kai Watch has not been performing as well as expected.

But it’s not just video game-branded goods that are seeing an uptick, but a broader aesthetic. Retro-inspired designs like “pixel blocks” are playing off of the construction toy trend and rebounding into areas like plush, fashion, and home design.

The surge in video game-based licensing is, in part, thanks to speciality retailers like GameStop and mass retailers like Target and Walmart that have signaled a greater willingness to stock this type of merchandise next to their video game selections. Although sales of physical game disks and console systems has been unstable, retail sales of merchandise like plush, figures, blind bags, t-shirts, and accessories like wallets and key chains has remained strong.

This summer, Warner Bros. film Ready Player One is expected to pique further interest and nostalgia in video game brands with hundreds of pop culture references to properties new and old. While it’s doubtful the movie itself will have much in the way of officially licensed merchandise, all video game-inspired goods are expected to see a jump in sales. Just in time for the Minecraft and Angry Birds movies opening in 2019.

And on the sports side, some esports analysts believe that the gaming competitions could be added to the Olympic Games roster as early as 2024. Esports is already confirmed to be an official medal event at the X Games and the Asian Games, making its inclusion in the world’s largest sporting platform only a matter of time.









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