Mattel kicks off self-publishing for games

Mattel is kicking off its self-published games where it will work with closely with big and small devs making Mattel-branded games.

Mike DeLaet, global head of digital gaming at El Segundo, California-based Mattel, said in an interview with GamesBeat that this is the next chapter in the mission to grow the company’s footprint in digital games.

As Mattel aims to grow its global network of studio development partners, fans can expect to see announcements for Mattel’s premier, self-published games starting later this year, DeLaet said. The company will likely move at a pace of one self-published game per year, he said. I spoke with DeLaet at the recent Dice Summit.

“We’ll be very selective about our partners. We’re launching a self-publishing initiative where we do co-development,” DeLaet said. “We’ll fund the development. We’ll fund the marketing and we’ll do the publishing ourselves. This will be in addition to the joint ventures with our licensing business.”

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thomas 2
Thomas & Friends

DeLaet said the company will now be building out a team and going out and working with the developers to bring world-class games to market. The focus will be on mobile initially, but it could expand to other platforms like Roblox and UEFN (Fortnite).

“It’s a big shift, and it can add a lot more growth to the company,” he said.

Under self-publishing, Mattel will have more control over the game than it would with licensing brands to another game maker, which it is doing with the Barbie mobile game being developed by Rollic, a division of Take-Two’s Zynga. With self-publishing, the company can create a vision of the game, the publishing plans and the marketing.

“We’ll still continue to do most of our projects through licensing and we can’t do everything ourselves,” he said.

mike delaet
Mike DeLaet is head of digital games at Mattel.

Aligned with its move into self-publishing, Mattel is actively expanding its global network of development partners, looking to studios of all sizes, genre specialties, and platforms. With these new partnerships, the company aims to foster creativity and further build its roadmap with imaginative, new digital gaming experiences that leverage its portfolio of timeless brands and characters.

“This is an exciting time for us as we take our iconic IP beyond licensing partnerships to self-publishing of Mattel mobile games,” said Josh Silverman, chief franchise officer at Mattel, in a statement. “Complementary to our existing licensing and joint venture M163 with Netease, we will directly engage with our fans and deliver unrivaled gaming experiences. We expect this to significantly increase the revenue and profit potential at low investment for the company, and to be a catalyst that drives the business forward.”

“The expansion of Mattel’s digital games business into self-publishing is an important step in our vision to bring fans of all ages captivating, innovative experiences featuring franchises, characters and storylines they know and love,” said DeLaet. “As part of this endeavor, we’re looking forward to working with world-class development studios who can bring fresh perspectives and push creative boundaries as we grow our digital games offering.”

Barbie towers over times Square.
Barbie towers over times Square.

This news follows Mattel’s recent announcement of two new third-party published games scheduled for release later this year. There’s the aforementioned Barbie game as well as Thomas & Friends: Let’s Roll, a mobile title created in partnership with StoryToys. It’s an educational app tailored for preschool children and their parents. (It’s not one of the self-published games).

StoryToys, a wholly owned subsidiary of Team17 Group plc, creates apps to give parents the peace of mind that their kids are having fun with their favorite characters while also engaging in activities that help them learn and grow.

Mattel also revealed a new mass-market Barbie mobile game published by Rollic, a subsidiary of Zynga Inc., a wholly owned publishing label of Take-Two Interactive.

Mattel owns more than 200 brands. Those include Hot Wheels, Matchbox and plenty of other brands that are suitable for games.

Mattel is able to focus more on expansion in the wake of the financial success of the Barbie film, which generated $1.4 billion in revenue at the global box office. Mattel also sells more than 900 million physical toy products in a year. But Mattel was already moving down the road of investing more in games as DeLaet joined the company.

“We do operate like one Mattel,” DeLaet said. “We were already going bigger and bigger into itneractive content.”

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