Skylanders: Battlegrounds and Lost Islands bring the portal to iOS in November

Bringing the portal to iOS with Skylanders Battlegrounds
Beyond the immense popularity of its annual war games and subscription-based MMO, a new brand is helping to grow Activision's portfolio of high-value licenses: Skylanders. Built on the foundation of collectible, physical products, the Skylanders brand has spawned a sequel that is already besting initial sales efforts of its original entry overseas.

Though the franchise's first foray into the mobile space has been a success – with Skylanders: Cloud Patrol hitting over 1.5 million downloads since launching earlier this year, according to Activision Mobile VP Greg Canessa – the game lacks the same physical link to the collectible figures. Next month, Activision aims to change that strategy with Skylanders: Battlegrounds.

Confirming leaks from earlier this month, Canessa told Joystiq that Skylanders: Battlegrounds is a "console-like, action-RPG" featuring the same ability to inject Skylanders characters on the fly using a new, Bluetooth-powered portal.

The iOS-exclusive Battlegrounds will be available as a starter pack for $49.99 at non-specified retailers and features a download code for the game, three figures, the Bluetooth portal, and a "Platinum Treasure Chest" featuring "tons of digital items and consumables" that will also be available as in-app purchases. But the game doesn't require the portal or a $50 entry fee, Canessa said. For those looking for a less expensive commitment, Battlegrounds will be available as a download for "between $5 and $7," a price Canessa told Joystiq it was still considering. After its planned "mid to late November" release, Battlegrounds will be regularly updated with new, free chapters.

Battlegrounds is described as a "real-time arena combat game," focusing on combat between a swarm of enemies and characters from the Skylanders roster. It is not a port of current Skylanders console games. Though we have yet to see the game for ourselves, Activision claims it "looks like an Xbox 360 game on an iPad," noting that Battlegrounds uses the same engine that powers Skylanders: Giants.

With the portal, players can swap to any character at any time during the game – including support for all current and upcoming standard and Giants figures. Without the portal, players select an on-screen icon that randomly picks a new character from a player's unlocked roster; however, without a portal swapping to a random character requires in-game currency. Like Cloud Patrol, characters can be added to a player's arsenal by entering a figure's included unlock code.

Skylanders mobile developer Vicarious Visions will also update Cloud Patrol to use the portal, alongside a third game in the series also slated to land next month, dubbed Skylanders: Lost Islands. Like Battlegrounds, players can use their existing collection of figures in each mobile title. Cloud Patrol's update also features a number of new "social multiplayer" modes, focusing on daily challenges.

Bringing the portal to iOS with 'Skylanders Battlegrounds' and 'Lost Islands'
Skylanders: Lost Islands (above) is a free-to-play resource management game set in the universe coming to iOS devices worldwide in "late-November." Playing the game, which is currently available in Canada, it's reminiscent of other similar titles with cool down meters for all activities including building structures or collecting resources. Players can speed the process up using in-game gems, which can be earned over time by playing or – of course – purchased at any time with real money.

With three games linked to the same series of toys, Canessa says now is the right time for Activision to streamline the process for players and grow a community with its own mobile social platform.

Activision's new mobile-exclusive platform – called 'Activate' – launches next month and allows players to create a profile to house their collection of Skylanders unlocked in the iOS games. The platform, which integrates current social media applications and uses Facebook as its log in process, is required for any online modes featured in the mobile titles.

Though iOS is the only platform mentioned during our meeting, Canessa says that Activision is dedicated to bringing the Skylanders experience to all gamers and players can expect to see Battlegrounds and Lost Islands to expand beyond Apple's platform. If the franchise's history is any indicator, it's probably a safe bet we'll see new mobile Skylanders experiences on any device Vicarious Visions can get the games to work on.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.