Activision's Skylanders bridges the gap between tablets and game consoles
Activision is bringing its wildly popular Skylanders series to tablets this fall, but it’s not just another watered down mobile game.
The tablet version of Skylanders Trap Team will be nearly the same as its console counterpart, with “console-quality graphics,” according to Activision. And while the game will support touch controls, it will also come bundled with a Bluetooth game controller and tablet stand.
The tablet version is coming to iPad, Android tablets and Amazon’s Kindle Fire HDX on October 5, the same day as the launch on Playstation, Xbox and Wii consoles.
Skylanders, which has earned Activision $2 billion to date, lets players collect a set of figurines and place them on RFID-equipped “portals” to transfer the characters into the game. As their characters gain new skills and upgrades, players can take their figurines to friends’ houses and continue their progress, regardless of what platform the game is running on. Trap Team adds the ability to “trap” enemy characters in totem-like figurines, and use them to fight on the player’s side.
Activision will sell all the necessary peripherals in a $75 “Tablet Starter Pack,” which includes the controller, the stand, a “Traptanium Portal,” two figurines, two traps and a display tray. According to CNet, the game itself will be a 1GB download, but can balloon to 6GB as players get through the game and add more figurines.
Console makers used to insist that tablet gaming was not a threat, arguing that the experience on those devices wasn’t on par with dedicated consoles. This point is getting harder to make as more console-like experiences make their way to mobile devices. Nvidia, for one, recently ported Valve’s Half Life 2 and Portal to its Shield gaming handheld and tablet, and 2K games released a port of its modern strategy hit XCom for iOS and Android. Modern indie games that first appeared on consoles, such as Limbo and Thomas Was Alone, have recently gone mobile as well.
Mobile processors are quickly becoming more sophisticated, so the performance gap between tablets and consoles is continuing to shrink. Inevitably, more big publishers like Activision will consider releasing full-blown tablet ports of their console hits. And as these mobile platforms invade the living room, they’ll keep getting harder to distinguish from traditional consoles.