Activision ditches the plastic for free-to-play Skylanders Battlecast

Activision’s Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure may have kicked off the “toys come to life” craze of the last few years, but with hefty competition from Disney Infinity and Nintendo’s Amiibo line, the publisher is now taking the series in a new, plastic-free direction with a mobile card game.

Skylanders Battlecast, which is planned for a 2016 launch, offers some of the same functionality of the AR cards included with 3DS games like Kid Icarus: Uprising. Although the game will also support digital in-game purchases, it’s launching alongside a line of physical playing cards, which are then scanned into your mobile device’s collection.

As you can see in the above trailer, the Skylanders pop out of the cards and appear to be standing in your living room after you activate them. However, once they’re brought into the game, the Skylanders then battle in 3D-rendered environments instead of on your coffee table.

“This is our biggest investment, and one of our most magical ideas yet, for the Skylanders franchise on mobile,” says Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg in the official announcement. Although this is the biggest push yet for Skylanders on mobile devices, the latest game in the series, Skylanders Trap Team, was also released for tablets, and there have been a number of mobile-exclusive Skylanders games released over the past several years. Skylanders Collection Vault acts as a showcase for your collection of characters, while Skylanders Cloud Patrol is more of an arcade-style shooter.

Of course, Battlecast isn’t the only Skylanders game on the way. Skylanders Superchargers, the latest main game in the series, launches on September 20, and focuses on vehicles instead of on-foot gameplay. As with past sequels, all of your previously collected characters will be compatible, along with the twenty new characters releasing alongside Superchargers. If you’re playing on a Nintendo system, a few Amiibo figures will be playable, as well.