Activision Blizzard unveils two new mobile Skylanders titles, Activate mobile-social platform

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By Scott Reyburn Comment

Video game giant Activision Blizzard unveiled today two new mobile Skylanders games and Activision Blizzard’s mobile-social platform Activate.

Skylanders Lost Islands and Skylanders Battlegrounds will join previously released Skylanders Cloud Patrol on iOS devices this fall. Lost Islands is a free-to-play resource management game in the same vein as DragonVale and The Simpsons: Tapped Out, but Lost Islands focuses less on managing a locale and more on building up the Skylanders characters. Skylanders Battlegrounds is a premium RPG game that’s running the same graphics engine as recently released Skylanders Giants in an effort to bring a console-like experience to mobile.

Alongside announcing two new Skylanders mobile titles, Activision Blizzard is throwing their hat in the mobile-social platform ring with Activate, joining competitors such as DeNA’s Mobage and Gree’s OpenFeint. Activate is a social platform that allows users to login into a mobile game with Facebook credentials for access to their friends list or create an account with Activate. For the two upcoming Skylanders games, Activate for example, allows for cloud storage meaning users can access their game state on any iOS device at any time. Activision Blizzard plans to roll out Activate to previously released games and all new ones going forward. A release date has not been set for the platform.

Skylanders, which has sold more 40 million toys since last October, is a video game franchise that allows toys to come to life on a television by placing the figures on a Portal of Power peripheral. The portal acts as a read-write device that send information to and from the Skylanders toys, for example, if a figure levels up in a game, that information will be stored on the toy itself.

Activision Blizzard’s in-house developer Vicarious Visions, the studio behind the latest Guitar Hero games and movie tie-in titles such as Transformers and Spider-Man, developed all three Skylanders mobile games. All Skylanders toys are forward compatible meaning figures from all the Skylanders games are compatible with both Skylanders Battlegrounds and Skylanders Lost Islands. Skylanders characters can also be unlocked in the games by entering in a 10-digit code under the base of a toy or purchased through the games with real or in-game currency.

Activision Blizzard plans to add social multiplayer features via Activate later this year to pick up and play arcade shooter Skylanders Cloud Patrol, the first game in the franchise for mobile. The new feature, called Showdowns, will be a cross between leaderboards and achievements where everyday there’s a new Showdown such as “shoot the most sheep in 10 minutes,” and the higher a user ranks, the more currency they receive. If a user specifically beats out their friends, they get even more currency. Players can also challenge friends via iOS push notifications.

Although Activision Blizzard is late to the party on mobile, the publisher has strong game IPs such as Call of Duty, Diablo and Guitar Hero that can make its way to mobile. Activision Blizzard formed its first mobile-only studio called The Blast Furnace in August, which has developed Pitfall! for iOS. The Leeds, U.K.-based studio is headed by chief creative officer Gordon Hall, who was previously heading up Rockstar Leeds’ studio.

Skylanders Giants, the latest installment on consoles featuring new gameplay mechanics and larger Skylanders toys called “Giants” recently hit store shelves in October and is available for the Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo 3DS. The title will also release on the Nintendo Wii U as a launch title on Nov. 18.

Similar to Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure and Skylanders Giants, a Skylanders Battlegrounds starter pack will be sold in retail for $49.99, which includes the game, a Bluetooth Portal of Power, three Skylanders figures and treasure chest that acts as a figure that’s loaded with $30 of virtual goods. Skylanders Battlegrounds will release sometime in mid to late November and Skylanders Lost Islands will release sometime in late November.