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Skylanders is turning into a mobile card game with real cards

The $3 billion Skylanders franchise is poised to get even bigger: today publisher Activision announced a new digital card game spinoff called Skylanders Battlecast. The free-to-play, mobile game will let players build teams with familiar Skylanders characters, which can then be used to battle both in a single-player mode and against other players online.

Mobile card games have proven to be big business; Blizzard's Hearthstone has more than 30 million players and rakes in an estimated $20 million each month (Blizzard also happens to be a subsidiary of Skylanders publisher Activision). But Battlecast will be looking to build on that success with an important twist: in addition to buying digital cards in-game, players can also purchase physical cards that can be scanned onto their mobile device. "Players will experience a magic moment by scanning cards with their mobile devices and watching them come to life," Activision says.

Skylanders Battlecast

If successful, Battlecast could turn Skylanders into an even bigger video game behemoth. Since the series debuted in 2011, with its unique combination of digital games and physical toys, it has made more than $3 billion for Activision, and sold more than 250 million figures. It has also spawned some big-name competitors, including DisneyNintendo, and soon Lego as well. The latest game in the series, Skylanders: Superchargers, is launching on a huge range of platforms in September.

Skylanders Battlecast is slated to launch on iOS and Android some time next year.