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I always thought the Odyssey's approach was interesting. I think their vision was a glorified board game with a computerized component. I guess it didn't always work out (and ultimately the model seems to have failed), but I'm not sure if that's the end of the matter. It seems like a boardgame or some kind of fun external components could be a good way to recoup some losses from illegal distribution. I guess people wouldn't be interested in moving pieces on a map around or whatever, but it seems that there is surely some way to utilize external pieces in a fun and realistic way.
The only people I can think of who recently pulled this off was some kind of stuffed animal with a big online component--webkins. I wonder if something has been tried with toys like Transformers or G.I. Joe. Maybe if you "upgrade" your toy, say by adding a rocket launcher, that would show up in the game as well.
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