According to data released by the NPD Group, compilers of the U.S. game sale charts, 20 percent of adults aged 17 to 54 live in a household where at least one "plug & play" TV console game is present. This level of success is significant, considering the relatively low barrier to entry for the devices, which commonly feature retro or simple-to-play titles.
The most recent 'breakout' popular 'TV game' was the 10-in-1 Atari device from JAKKS Pacific. This featured a replica Atari 2600 joystick, containing ten different Atari titles such as Asteroids
. This subsequently led to similar devices themed around Activision, Namco and EA Sports' retro titles. The concept was also taken up by peripheral maker Radica Games, with titles based around classic Sega, Capcom and Taito properties, and a second wave of hardware based on modern film and TV properties such as Fantastic Four and SpongeBob SquarePants are now being developed.
According to The NPD Group, 'TV games' are most popular with children aimed between 6 to 12 and adults aged over 35, which accounts for the mix of licensed children's properties and retro compilations. The success of these products has been reflected in an increase of 30 percent in Radica’s revenues
, with JAKKS lining up nine new products for this Christmas, including licenses such as Care Bears, Disney, Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune – as well as further compilations featuring titles from Capcom and Tecmo.
"This indicates that Plug & Play devices may be a precursor into the more sophisticated handheld and console gaming market for both kids and tweens," said The NPD Group’s Anita Fraizer. "This could also be an indication that the teen and young adult market has not been fully tapped for Plug & Play usage, which could provide new growth opportunity for manufacturers of these devices."