Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Will You Be the Master of the Seas?

As I've mentioned previously, I am a huge fan of Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. For the new movie, On Stranger Tides, JAKKS Pacific was awarded the Master Toy License. Included in this license was the rights to produce games based upon the movies. Of interest to gamers would be the Pirates of the Caribbean: Master of the Seas Strategy Game. I recently had the privilege to interview Ken Malouf, Senior Director of Marketing for Games & Puzzles at JAKKS about this new game which is due in stores any day now.

TRG: Could you tell our readers a bit about Masters of the Seas? Is this more of complex strategy board game, or something families could play together?

KM: It really is both. Families will love the interactive battles and the originality of the game. Some of the most unique and fun elements of the game include:
  • You create the game board by putting the islands anywhere on the table – it’s a different adventure every time you play!
  • 360 degree movement on the game table as you sail from island to island using navigational calipers to count out the spaces that you move
  • The uniqueness of every player’s experience since each person takes on the role of a different captain from Pirates of the Caribbean with a different ship and a different set of treasures they need to collect to win the game
  • Collecting different treasures as you move from island to island – not only the ones you need but the ones your opponents need thus setting up the need for a head-to-head battle - the only way you can get that prize from your opponent
For more strategic gamers, there is also a much more complex level of strategy that can come in to play for those who choose to master the game. More advanced players will learn and master the art of building and managing their Pirate resources – such as building the right crew of officers, sailors and gunners to accomplish their goals, strategically using their captain cards at the right points during the game, knowing when and when not to challenge an opponent to battle, all while ensuring that their stockpile of doubloons gives them the money they need to support their efforts.

TRG: A strategy board game is something of a new concept for JAKKS Pacific. What was the impetus to go in this direction?

Strategy games are a key segment within the overall games category and, when done well, can result in a longer-term game item with passionate fans that establish them as true classics in the genre. This is what we are hoping to accomplish with a game like Master of the Seas. When we acquired the license for Pirates of the Caribbean games, we knew that having a strategy game was a must. This evergreen brand is a great fit for the strategy game segment and is one that deserves a classic strategy game that brings to life the epic battles of Pirates in the high seas.

TRG: Granted, ship to ship combat is an integral part of the Pirates franchise. Was there any internal debate whether to launch a ship-based game versus a more character-based boardgame?

Not really because this game actually delivers both aspects. In this game, the most celebrated captain’s from the 4 Pirates of the Caribbean movies (i.e. Jack Sparrow, Davy Jones, Barbossa and Blackbeard) are in head-to-head battle with their ships as the main carrier for the battle (i.e. Black Pearl, Flying Dutchman, HMS Providence and Queen Anne’s Revenge). So, you get both!

TRG: Will Masters of the Seas be marketed to the hobby channel, or is this strictly a mass-market release?

It will be sold to both channels with the hopes that families, strategy gamers, Pirate fans, and many others will discover and enjoy this great game wherever they may shop for games.

TRG: In the hobby channel, expansion sets are a big part of many boardgames. Should sales warrant, are there any plans for expansions that could add to the Masters of the Seas experience, such as introducing new ships and captains from the films?

Yes, as the game grows in popularity, we could easily expand the experience with new captains, ships and islands from the new movies. We can also expand game content with new prize cards, captain cards, map cards, etc. that can deliver totally new experiences for fans of the game.

TRG: Could we expect more games in this vein from JAKKS Pacific from the Pirates franchise?

Definitely expect more games from JAKKS Pacific in the strategy category across a wider range of brands as well as across a broader range of game segments. Master of the Seas will be our primary focus for Pirates in the strategy games category but as the brand grows, we would love the opportunity to extend the Pirates experience as appropriate. When we develop games for a license such as Pirates, we talk a lot about the core essence of that brand and the kind of games that fans of the property would want to experience from that brand. Then, we focus on a developing just the right number and type of innovative games that will bring to life that property. That’s what you can expect from JAKKS – truly innovative games that celebrate and bring to life some of the most classic and evergreen brands.

Sounds fantastic! Thanks, Ken, for taking the time out and talking to us! I'm really looking forward of getting this game to the table.

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