2014 was a huge year for the toys-to-life genre with Activision's Skylanders and Disney Infinity continuing to grow in popularity and Nintendo's Amiibo lineup getting off to a solid start. With sales in this particular segment of the market catching fire, it's perhaps not surprising to see things getting a little heated between the respective publishers as well.
Disney lobbed a bomb in Skylanders' direction last week, claiming that Disney Infinity was the best-selling toys-to-life brand in 2014. Yesterday, Activision returned the volley with its own set of data claiming that Skylanders led the toys-to-life category for the third straight year.
The debate over which toys-to-life product is king may seem a bit silly as it's safe to say that both companies are doing extremely well. But for the sake of the argument, let's take a closer look at each publisher's claims.
Disney's is based on NPD data, which showed that the Infinity franchise increased its sales 16 percent during the holiday period of November and December compared with its figures from the previous year. Disney also stated that its overall market share grew from 43 to 47 percent and that it outsold Skylanders in total starter packs and in total sales revenue.
Activision's response that Skylanders, whose Trap Team sequel released this past year, is still on top is based on physical game unit sell-through data, according to the NPD and the company's own internal estimates.
"Skylanders continues its leadership position as the #1 kids video game franchise globally as well as in the U.S. by wide margins. As a global franchise in 2014, Skylanders is 30% bigger than its nearest competitor. And Skylanders Trap Team outsold its nearest competitor globally by 17%. As the creators of the 'Toys to Life' category, we are thrilled to continue to lead it for the third consecutive year."
In short, it seems that both Disney and Activision are selectively focusing on the data that helps make its case, while ignoring data that is flattering to the competition. Cutting through the marketing gibberish, it looks like Disney is in front on overall sales revenue, but Skylanders still has the most market share. What would be interesting is if Disney Infinity continues to outpace Skylanders in sales revenue in 2015, while at the same time Nintendo's Amiibo line up continues to generate a passionate response.
It's likely the last couple of weeks are only the beginning of the press release wars between these companies. That's arguably a great thing for consumers, though. As was proven by the recent Xbox One price drops, gaming companies fighting with each other usually leads to more innovation and better deals all around for the fans.
Skylanders and Disney Infinity are available now in multiple iterations for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and Wii U.