JAN. 15, 2013 • With two hit installments in its Skylanders franchise, Activision Blizzard has proven there is gold in games that interact with companion toy lines, and Disney Interactive is entering the same space by June. Disney Infinity will launch with an initial 17 interactive character figures that tie in with the companion video game available on the PC, PlayStation 3, Wii, Wii U, and Xbox 360. Disney also announced there will be an accompanying mobile experience. Characters from The Incredibles, Monsters Inc. and Pirates of the Caribbean films are featured. Players place real-world interactive figures – characters, power discs and Play Set pieces – on a Disney Infinity Base device to activate original, story-driven adventures in the game worlds, also known as Play Sets. As players advance through each adventure, they will collect characters, vehicles, upgrades, and gadgets that they can save to a virtual Toy Box. Users can later access their personal Toy Box and use the items to create one-of-a-kind Disney adventures featuring any combination of characters, environments and items across all franchises. Disney Infinity supports two-player co-op play in game adventures, and up to four players in Toy Box mode. The Starter Pack will retail for $74.99. Other pricing includes $34.99 for the Play Set Pack, individual figures at $12.99 each, a figure three-pack for $29.99, and Power Disc Packs at $4.99. Known launch markets beyond the U.S. include: Australia, Brazil, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latin America, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the U.K.
Impact: For years the Walt Disney Company has been a major underperformer in the video game space. The game business, now under Disney Interactive, has been under constant restructuring over the past two decades. Two years ago this January, Disney Interactive announced major layoffs and plans to reorganize after the games division had lost nearly $800 million over the past three years. The company announced an intention to get away from expensive console games and move towards online games and digital distribution. But now one must wonder how many at Disney are feeling like Michael Corleone in the Godfather III when he said “just when I thought I was out they pull me back in.” Disney Infinity is clearly a major push into the expensive console business. Given Disney’s track record in the space we would be remiss if we didn’t express some natural skepticism. Nevertheless, we think Infinity has the potential to be a major winner. It has the same appeal as Skylanders, only with Disney characters. Basically it is the new trend of combining toys with video games, or in other words a movement back to the physical in the digital age. Disney also seems to be building the product in a way that it will have a great deal of sandbox game elements that have made major hits out of products such as Minecraft. It is Disney and they do have a way of underwhelming in the video game business, but Disney Infinity is a major product to watch for 2013.