Hasbro and Ruckus Mobile Media have announced a strategic licensing agreement to jointly develop original mobile interactive storybook apps based on Hasbro brands. Starting with three titles to be released in May—based on Tonka Chuck and Friends, My Little Pony and Transformers Prime—the deal covers all digital platforms in the English language worldwide. The storybooks will include interactive elements such as activities, coloring, and recording functions.

“Hasbro has understood for some time that it’s not just in the business of toys, but in the business of intellectual property development,” said Rick Richter, president and CEO of Ruckus Mobile Media, which debuted last September. “Our apps will contain some pretty breakthrough aspects, but the story is always king and anything in the app will inform the story. In some apps, you see certain elements and you kind of wonder why they’re there. We want to create an app where you couldn’t imagine the story without the interaction.”

“Our strategy is for our consumer to be able to engage with our properties on any platform, any time, anywhere,” explained Simon Waters, Hasbro’s senior v-p global brand licensing and publishing. “Our digital team has been focused more on gaming. This application really takes us into the reading space and into education. The concept is about original storytelling and reading. While there are gaming elements, it’s less about gaming and more about a storytelling experience.” The apps also are being developed with both parents and children in mind, allowing for shared use.

Ruckus’s 15 titles to date have tended toward high-end picture book apps, including A Present for Milo by Mike Austin, Andrew Answers by Alan Katz, and The Velveteen Rabbit, narrated by Meryl Streep. “Within the Ruckus program, this is a pretty mass market endeavor, and that’s absolutely by design,” Richter told PW. “We want a very diverse program.” The company will continue to produce literary picture book apps but also aggressively pursue mass market initiatives, like the Hasbro deal, that reach a wide audience. “This is a really important point in our development,” Richter said. “It’s another sign that brands will prevail and that some of us will cut through the clutter.”