Disney Interactive Studios finds itself in a sink or swim scenario and with over $100 Million spent on the development of Disney Infinity, Chief Executive Robert Iger will have to hope there are no holes in this boat. According to the Wall Street Journal, a source close to Disney reflected upon the pressure the company is under to deliver,
It’s a Hail Mary with a tremendous amount of pressure to be a hit,”
Robert Iger grouped many of Disney’s videogame, online and mobile business’ into one division and since that moment back in 2008 Disney have reported losses of $1.41 Billion from the division itself. This is largely due to Disney Interactive Studios constantly being behind the trend and attempting to mimic any current fad. For those who have seen Disney Infinity in action you could accuse them of copying Activision’s highly successful Skylanders series. But if you are going to steal an idea, it might as well be a financially lucrative one.
Since the launch of Skylanders, Activision has reported that the franchise has generated around $1.5 Billion in sales. Could Disney Infinity replicate or encroach upon Activision’s success? Initial reports suggest so. President of Gamestop Tony Bartel stated Disney Infinity is “off to a very strong start and exceeding our expectations.”
Fortunately, at Twinstick we have been able to get hands on with Disney Infinity and believe this is a sure fire hit that will last throughout the year. Whilst the game has copied the mechanics of Skylanders in terms of incorporating a portal or dock that you place your toys on, the games themselves are totally different.
Inifinity is a platformer built on discovery. Each character opens a unique world specific to them. For example, should you select Captain Jack Sparrow or any of the Pirates of the Caribbean characters, you will be transported to their world. You’ll sail the seven seas or dock and visit familiar locations such as the port of Tortuga. Along with the Pirates of the Caribbean, you can visit the worlds of The Incredibles, Monsters Inc, Cars and (our personal favourite) The Lone Ranger (don’t worry I’m not a fan of the Johnny Depp movie just the game). In each of the character’s campaigns, you are able to unlock and discover new items, which you can use in the Toy Box area. Here, you can build your own worlds and levels making Disney Infinity an endless game. The only problem I have found (so far) is that you can only mix and match the characters from different worlds in the Toy Box Area, but not in the campaigns as the trailer may suggest. It appears you won’t be able to race around as Dash in Radiator springs, which I feel is a missed opportunity if this is the case. However, I will keep playing to see if there is a way to unlock this feature.
If you couple the invention of the game itself with Disney’s branding, Infinity should be raking in the money. We all know the back catalogue of Disney titles and with Wreck it Ralph, Rapunzel, Jack Skeleton and the ever popular Toy Story crew due out in November, surely Disney can’t lose…..Or can they?
There are two potential stumbling blocks Disney might encounter. Firstly, Skylanders is the leading competitor for this type of game. With Disney going into direct competition and hopefully succeeding this may open up a whole host of developers following suit in an attempt to get a share of the pie. Imagine if Pokemon, Moshi Monsters or Ben 10 emulated this formula. The market could become saturated and shrink over night. Anyone remember Guitar Hero vs Rock Band?
Secondly, the other problem Disney might face is the pricing. Each toy is around £15 and certain areas require you to have at least owned, for example, all of the Incredibles: This includes Mr Incredible, Elastigirl, Violet, Dash and Sydrome. Whilst Mr Incredible comes with the starter pack (£65 by the way), should you choose to buy the additional characters for this unlockable area this will set you back a further £60. There are also power disks to purchase and collect, which boost your characters abilities or open up other collectibles within the game. Each sealed packet contains two mystery power disks setting you back a paltry £3.99, but there are over 20 to collect. Do all parents have that amount of money? Disney may need to consider future pricing as many money conscious parents will have become wary of all the collectibles that their kids demand from the Skylanders series, which in comparison is infinitely cheaper.
All that being said, Disney must turn over a profit by the end of the year if we are to see anything further from this side of the company. Especially if fans of the game are hoping to see characters from the Star Wars and Marvel Universe’s make their way to Infinity.