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Barbie doesn’t need a new game to reach new audiences

Industry Commentary

It’s been a busy month for Barbie, with her big battle for the box office leading to numerous collaborations across a variety of sectors, not least gaming. Of course, Barbie is no stranger to the world of video games. There are more than 60 Barbie video games dating back to 1984, with titles such as Barbie Fashion Designer on the PC generating more than $14m in revenue for license holder Mattel. Some of these games, such as Tilting Point’s Barbie Dreamhouse, are still going strong today, with an update on July 11 causing daily downloads for the game to double in just over a week to 98,000, according to SensorTower data.  

While some of these games have been incredibly successful, there are plenty that flopped, too, as different video game developers have tried putting their own spin on the Barbie formula. Of course, the video game market has changed a lot in the last decade. Games are more expensive to make, and as far as IP integrations into video games are concerned, it can sometimes be more effective to work with an existing video game or franchise rather than develop a new IP-based game. 

In this case, the difficulty is knowing which video games make for the right partners, both from a creative and commercial point of view. Interestingly, Mattel has chosen to focus primarily on mobile games for its Barbie integrations, with limited-time Barbie events taking place in Stumble Guys and Candy Crush. That said, it also partnered with Rec Room to bring a variety of Barbie and Ken outfits into the Gen Z VR social game. 

With 17.9 million daily active users in the last 30 days (SensorTower), the Candy Crush partnership won’t come as a surprise, especially as its development studio, King, is known for its branded in-game partnerships. The Barbie takeover in Candy Crush introduced exclusive Barbie content into the game, accessible only to Candy Crush players, including promotional interviews for the film and Barbie-themed items.

The collaboration, which launched on July 13, caused daily downloads for the game to double on iOS in the US between July 13–14, according to data from GameRefinery, while daily revenue increased by $500k during the same period according to SensorTower data. 

Mobile players could also take part in another Barbie takeover in Stumble Guys, Scopely’s popular ‘party royale’ game with over 3.9 million daily active players. As Pocket Gamer points out, Mattel’s choice of mobile game is on the money as there was a period last year when Stumble Guys was making more than half a million dollars every day. 

The collaboration introduced a new Barbie-themed level into the game, complete with new emotes, animations, footsteps, and character skins. Stumble Guys’ pink makeover is a natural fit with the aesthetic of the game, and the partnership has been warmly received by fans. 

While Mattel’s clearly got its eyes on the mobile market, that’s not to say it’s been ignoring the wider world of console gaming. Barbie also found its way into Xbox’s flagship racing series, Forza, courtesy of Barbie’s pink 1956 Chevrolet Corvette EV being made available in the game. If that wasn’t enough, Microsoft even created a Barbie-themed Xbox Series S console and themed controllers, winnable through its Microsoft rewards scheme. 

We can’t imagine the hype around Barbie will melt away any time soon. We’ll be looking out to see if we spot any more Barbie-themed collaborations in the gaming world. For now, the lady in pink has proven she’s got enough going for her that she can venture into any gaming world she wants to be a part of. 


Read the episode transcript here

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