When Jordan Weisman first announced his new company Smith and Tinker, he stated its mission as being to create toys, games, and other real-world media that leverage networks in order “to compete with the dynamic and exciting world of the internet.” Further, they foregrounded two maxims: “There is nothing on the planet more entertaining than other people; There is no one on the planet more creative than the audience.” Since then, he’s announced a new MechWarrior video game project that looks awesome, but certainly sounds more like that thing they said they were competing with… and now there’s Nanovor, a new collectible game aimed at kids.
It starts as a downloadable PC game, and then there are some gift cards that get you in-game cash; but then there’s this little hand-held mini-Gameboy thingy that plugs into a USB port on your PC, presumably downloads “cards” or what have you, and possibly plugs into other thingies to play competitively. Price tag on the device, as part of a starter kit: $60.
Okay, why? It seems like you get a decent device for the money, but every kid in the target market already has a DS. This thing isn’t visibly delivering anything it can’t do. If I’m S&T, I can certainly understand not wanting to pay Nintendo’s licensing fee, nor wanting my game’s public perception to sink into a morass of ordinary cross-media Pokemon-esques. But as a player, or the parent of one, who’s apparently going to have to pay for even more stuff on top of the $60? In This Economy™? No dice.
Maybe the free-to-start PC game will do better on its own, but irrespective of the merits of the game (which I haven’t actually played yet), I’m not seeing S&T’s alleged dream manifested in this product. Even if that dream is just “stay in the black.” And that makes me sad.