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Mattel’s Mike DeLaet on their big push into games and why the focus is mobile

“We are focused on mobile platforms and will be working very hard to create some of the most entertaining and engaging products on the market.”
Mattel’s Mike DeLaet on their big push into games and why the focus is mobile
  • Mattel is utilising its popular IPs to bring new games and experiences to the mobile games market working as a self-publisher and expanding with new partners
  • A partnership with Rollic will see the release of a Barbie mobile game following the success of the 2023's Barbie movie
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Earlier this month, we ran a string of Mattel announcements, making plain their gaming vision and plans for the future. Following the hit success of the Barbie movie, Mattel announced a new partnership with Zynga subsidiary Rollic to bring a new mobile Barbie game to the market. And it isn’t just the Barbie IP coming to mobile as a partnership with StoryToys will also see the release of a new Thomas & Friends mobile app.

However, it's the company's drive to self-publish - taking control of their own prestgious and plentiful IP and taking the company truly digital - that attracted the most attention.

To discuss these expansions into mobile gaming, we spoke with Mattel’s global head of digital gaming, Mike DeLaet, to find out why this big push into games is happening, why mobile is the focus and what is Mattel's strategy for the business going forwards.


PocketGamer.biz: What’s behind Mattel’s push into games, and why now? 

Mike DeLaet: Mattel has always taken gaming seriously and has a long history of classic video games. Recently, we've seen great success with our latest releases, Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged on consoles and UNO on mobile. Staying relevant in the rapidly growing digital entertainment market is crucial for us.

We are actively pursuing partnerships with developers of all sizes who can bring imaginative, new digital gaming experiences to our diverse franchises.

“With the resounding success of the Barbie movie last year, the desire for the brand from both partners and consumers exploded.”
Mike DeLaet

How significant is the Barbie deal for Mattel? Why partner with Rollic and make what sounds like a hypercasual game?

With the resounding success of the Barbie movie last year, the desire for the brand from both partners and consumers exploded. The movie underscored that Barbie is for everyone, echoing Rollic's philosophy of creating games for all audiences. Our partnership is significant because it merges expertise to create a mass-market game, blending a universally loved franchise with accessible gameplay that everyone can enjoy.

What is Mattel's self-publishing strategy, and how does it plan on partnering with developers in this way?

Leveraging our beloved franchises, we want to engage directly with our fans, closing the gap in our relationship with our players and offering immersive, innovative gaming experiences that reflect the rich stories and characters they know and love. We’ll be making more announcements in this area in the year ahead.

What platforms will be a part of Mattel’s partnerships and self-publishing strategies? Will mobile and UGC platforms like Fortnite/Roblox form part of this?

We will always strive to show up for fans of our iconic brands in the places and spaces they want to see us. Last year, we launched Barbie Dreamhouse Tycoon on Roblox, a game that was 2.5 years in the making and has since achieved over 150 million visits.

“We are applying the key lessons learned from past successes to continue paving the way for experiences that anyone can enjoy on the most accessible platform.”
Mike DeLaet

We are focused on mobile platforms and will be working very hard to create some of the most entertaining and engaging products on the market. Our goal is to deliver diverse gaming experiences that engage directly with fans and expose our franchises to new audiences.

The mobile games industry is struggling, and acquiring users is tougher than ever. Why does mobile look like such a key part of Mattel’s games strategy?

We’ve already achieved significant success with our franchises on mobile, with one of our greatest successes being UNO, which has over 300 million downloads. Our franchises are globally recognised and appeal across generations. We are applying the key lessons learned from past successes to continue paving the way for experiences that anyone can enjoy on the most accessible platform.

Given these market challenges - and the wider challenges facing the games industry across platforms such as rising development budgets - why does Mattel think games will be a “low investment” opportunity for the company to raise revenue and profit?

Many of the most successful games in recent history have started with humble beginnings. Our focus is on building a solid, tried-and-tested gameplay foundation that leverages our timeless franchises and is accessible to all of our fans. We believe that by concentrating on these core pillars, we will continue to deliver world-class experiences that delight our fans.

“While we have an incredible team of deeply experienced and passionate individuals, we’re actively searching for more talent.”
Mike DeLaet

How big is Mattel’s self-publishing games team? Is the team complete, or are you looking for more talent?

While we have an incredible team of deeply experienced and passionate individuals, we’re actively searching for more talent. Those interested in joining us should take a look at Mattel’s careers website!

Understanding the recent challenges in the gaming industry and the impact on its talented professionals, we extend our empathy and commitment to supporting our peers. This is why we want to make sure people are aware that we’re growing this team now and looking to bring those talented individuals on board.

Why are we seeing big IP holders taking the games market so seriously now? With IP either being used in games or games IP is being used for TV and film.

People love immersing themselves in their favourite universes, and gaming offers an unparalleled opportunity for such immersion. When done well, it provides a unique and perfect way to deeply engage with these worlds over an extended period, distinct from TV and film experiences.