Why toys and apps have failed

The Wall Street Journal, on why apps and toys are yet to succeed with kids (subscription required):

“Last year, trying to show how the toy industry could remain relevant in the tablet age, Hasbro Inc. HAS +1.44% unveiled an iPad-enhanced version of its classic Game of Life. Instead of spinning a wheel in the center of the board game to take a turn, players spun a wheel on the iPad.

The idea bombed.

And it wasn’t alone. More than 90% of the so-called app toys that were trotted out last year sold poorly, estimates Jim Silver, editor in chief of timetoplaymag.com, a consumer and trade website. Among the other flops, Mattel Inc. MAT +0.40% outfitted Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels cars with special conductors to control games on a tablet.”

Two years ago we bought the Disney AppMATes Cars toy for my kids. It’s an iPad app the presents the world of Pixar’s Cars, which players explore by “driving” plastic, conductive cars across the iPad’s screen. My kids discovered almost immediately that the game works with their fingers and stopped using the car pieces entirely. Now it’s just another iPad game.

It felt tacked-on and even a 7-year-old could sense that. If this is going to work (and I’m not convinced it has to), game designers must think of something completely new. Read the full Times article here.