Internet-connected toys are a major focus of the toy industry this season, but according to Nukotoy's co-CEO Doug Penman, connecting the online and "real" world just is not in the DNA of the regular large toy companies. NukoToys is made up of numerous Silicon Valley veterans and counts gaming luminaries like "Wizards of the Coast" founder Peter Adkinson (the company behind "Magic the Gathering") and screenwriters and directors Josh and Jonas Pate among its advisers. The company plans to bring a series of games to market within the next year, starting with Internet-enabled trading cards and then expanding into more complex toys like figurines.
What binds all of these physical toys together is that they are all tagged with individually numbered chips (Nukotoys wouldn't reveal the technology behind this, but we assume these are basic RFID chips) that can be scanned with a near-field USB-powered scanner the company plans to sell for a reasonable price (Penman wouldn't name an exact price range and only told us that it would be within the range of a "typical birthday gift" for a kid). While Nukotoys plans to launch a wide variety of games, the scanner should be universal and work for all of them.
The company has managed to sign up a number of major players in the toy business and has licensing agreements with popular brands like the "Ology" series of children's books, Animal Planet, Cryptids, and Planet 429.
Nukotoys' first games will focus on trading cards. With these, players can, for example, play an online game and then swipe these cards over the scanner to activate certain weapons, spells or other game functions. In one of the company's demos, a specific card represents a grappling hook that can be used to get across a deep canyon, for example.
As the cards are individually numbers, whenever players trade them, the card will know that it is now in use by a different player and automatically create a connection between the two. This should give the game an interesting real-world social layer.
Nukotoys doesn't want to just fall into the trading card niche, however. The company's vision is much grander than this and given that it relies on near-field communication to bridge the gap between online and offline play, it should be able to add these feature to virtually any kind of toy. Nukotoys also plans to release iPad and iPhone apps in conjunction with its games, so that players also have the option to manipulate the gameplay on their computer screens from their mobile devices.