Why gamers won’t let Frozen go

Much has been written about the success of Disney’s multi-award winning blockbuster Frozen.

The runaway popularity of the movie saw it remain in cinemas long after it was meant to be out on DVD. It is the highest-grossing animated film of all time. Its stellar soundtrack, including smash hit Let It Go, has become the best-selling album of 2014 on iTunes. And a tie-in game, Frozen: Olaf’s Quest, starring the titular snowman sidekick has been in the charts a great deal since it launched.

The success of Frozen was a bit of a surprise,” Avanquests’s European games director Simon Reynolds tells MCV.We thought it’d do well. We’d done some decent movie licences before, such as Sony’s Hotel Transylvania and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. We thought this one was going to be maybe a little bit bigger as it was Disney, but nowhere near the stratospheric sales that we’ve experienced.

Frozen is just the No.1 franchise out there. It’s massive. You can’t get away from it. When we first presented it to people, they were a bit sceptical. They saw that Planes and Wreck-It Ralph didn’t do brilliantly. But Frozen took on a life of its own quite frankly.”

When Olaf’s Quest kept appearing in the charts, it was a surprise. There have been fewer tie-in games on consoles recently, let alone ones that hang around in the charts as long as the Frozen game has.

A lot of people don’t feel it’s worth releasing games on console these days,” Reynolds explains.The numbers just aren’t as big as they used to be and mobile is the Holy Grail to brand holders because it’s free to access. There was some stats in [MCV sister title] Toy News that said that 66 per cent of kids aged between six and nine have their own handheld games console, while 45 per cent had a tablet and 17 per cent had a smartphone. There is absolutely a market for the right brands on console.”

And of course, Frozen is the right brand. But it’s also about what console you are launching on.

We thought Frozen would be our last title on DS to be honest. Nintendo hasn’t been manufacturing the console for a few years, but we thought that there is a big user base our there, and there is a second hand, hand-me-down market for the old DS consoles,” Reynolds says.We launched Olaf’s Quest on DS and it’s still outselling 3DS. And we’ve got Disney’s next big film out in January, Big Hero 6, and we’re bringing that out on 3DS and DS. If you’d said to me 18 months ago you’d be bringing out a DS product in January 2015 I’d have laughed.”

But of course it’s also about the game’s content itself – and Reynolds says this was partially responsible for the title’s success.

Olaf’s Quest has its own storyline,” he explains. We recognised early on that Olaf was going to be a strong character within the movie, and frankly had we gone with one of the female characters it would have skewed the game too much towards females. But Olaf appeals to both boys and girls. In that respect it has opened up the market a bit for us.”

And Reynolds says that interest in the game just keeps growing.

Many movie IPs come and drop off, and you try and keep sales of the game going until the DVD comes out, then you have another marketing push then,” Reynolds says. We kept the game out there, then we did a bit of price activity in the two or three weeks over Easter in line with the DVD launch and then we re-aligned the pricing and the market in the summer.

We’ve had two or three new retailers come on board in the last few weeks. It’s a year after we released the game and we’ve got new retailers picking up the product. We’ve done a fantastic job marketing it, but it is largely down to the strength of the brand.”

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