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October 2005 | Vol. IV - No. 10


Toys Versus Video Games: The Fight for Profit Supremacy

"The link between electronic media violence and antisocial and violent behavior is as strong as the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer." —Elizabeth Vandewater, PhD, of the University of Texas, Austin 
TDmonthly Magazine has been following the recent flat-lining/decline in toy sales over the last four years, and the rise of video game profits at traditional toys’ expense. But the pendulum swings, and video games are now under the microscope for violence. And who hopes to profit from this turn of events? Traditional toys.

There’s a huge body of evidence that shows violent content is bad. Elizabeth Vandewater, PhD, associate professor in human development and family sciences, University of Texas, Austin, explained: “The link between electronic media violence and antisocial and violent behavior is as strong as the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer.”

Using this as a rally cry, toy manufacturers are fighting back by offering what they do best: variety, innovation and good clean fun.

The toy industry is taking advantage of one of the very things that make video games so appealing: technology. Bill McCarthy, director of promotions for Hasbro, explained that their fastest selling category is new games, especially DVD games such as Candyland (with an interactive, get-up-and-move DVD) and Plug & Play games such as miniature golf (that turns the TV into an interactive experience). “That’s what’s hot.”

A second angle of attack are the classics. Board games are going through a growth spurt and more than one large manufacturer is pushing them for Christmas. Retro has been building for a few years, too (A Retro Toy Experience), as kids are finding that open-ended toys (like the kind Mom and Dad used to play with), have more long-term play-ability than finite video games.

This year and next: more and varied toys are having licensing tie-ins to major media, too. Everything from the traditional action figures to die-cast figurines. Corgi is on the forefront, allying with Marvel Entertainment, among others, to bring out whole new die-cast licensed figures. Although this has been tried in the past, this time, the integration between toy and license will be more seamless.

Video games aren’t going anywhere (and 2005 is shaping up to be a strong year). But with their unhealthiness as playthings being called into question, it leaves the door wide open for the toy industry to step through to profits.

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