Sponsored By

This Barbie sets publishing milestones.

Bryant Francis, Senior Editor

March 5, 2024

2 Min Read
A Barbie-themed car from Forza Horizon 5

At a Glance

  • Hot Wheels and Barbie toymaker Mattel is expanding its video game interests.
  • Head of digital gaming Mike DeLaet hopes to build direct relationships with developers to make Mattel-licensed games.
  • DeLaet says the expansion into games is a "top priority" for the company.

Toymaker Mattel, most known for product lines like Hot Wheels, Thomas the Tank Engine, and of course Barbie, is entering the game publishing business. After spending the last few years teeing up licensing partnerships in games like Forza Horizon 5, Roblox, and World of Tanks, the company has announced it will begin self-publishing mobile games as part of an expansion of its "global network of development partners."

A spokesperson for Mattel confirmed to Game Developer that though the company is beginning its game publishing business on mobile platforms, it is open to expanding to PC and console in the future.

In an interview, Mattel's global head of digital gaming Mike DeLaet shared more details on the initiative, explaining that he and his team want to directly support developers working with the toy-based brands.

"We're going to be doing co-development, greenlighting one new game a year and then publishing the games ourselves," he said, adding that the company is spinning up an internal team dedicated to supporting the effort.

The company will be primarily targeting an audience of players age 13 and up, with some child-targeted apps like the just-announced Thomas & Friends: Let's Roll also in development.

DeLaet expressed interest in working with developers to create original video game brands that could be turned into a physical toyline, but said for now the effort is about taking a "new spin" on existing brands.

Are video games "Kenough" for Mattel?

Mattel's expansion into video game publishing comes at a fascinating time for the toymaker and the game industry. The company is riding high off of the 2023 film Barbie, a strangely subversive flick that revitalized interest in its flagship doll. At the same time, the video game industry is undergoing a painful economic retraction, costing thousands of developers their livelihoods and raising honest questions about overinvesting in the video game market.

DeLaet himself is bullish on Mattel's investment, commenting that CEO Ynon Kriez told him this expansion is a "top priority" for the company. "We are growing, and we are hiring people," he said. "I'm hoping the industry recovers quickly...I believe firmly in growing the whole pie, not just Mattel's share of the pie. Whatever we can do to help the pie expand is a great thing for the industry overall."'

Mattel's push into video game publishing has the chance to be a boon for the toy business and video game industry, but its entry feels comparable to the company's cultural position in the wake of the Barbie movie.

It owns toy lines that audiences love, but it's an open question whether its execs understand why they're beloved.

Read more about:

DICE 2024Features

About the Author(s)

Bryant Francis

Senior Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Bryant Francis is a writer, journalist, and narrative designer based in Boston, MA. He currently writes for Game Developer, a leading B2B publication for the video game industry. His credits include Proxy Studios' upcoming 4X strategy game Zephon and Amplitude Studio's 2017 game Endless Space 2.

Daily news, dev blogs, and stories from Game Developer straight to your inbox

You May Also Like