The memorable worlds that have been dreamed up by Disney and Pixar number in the dozens. Films and shorts have the ability to transport audiences into escapist fantasy, upon which games can add another level of interaction. Last year’s Disney Universe console game was the first console game to bring together the worlds of the two well-known studios, also allowing gamers to wear costumes inspired by the characters. Disney Infinity, which is set to be formally be announced next month, is set to take it one step further by bringing the actual characters from Pixar and Disney together. Find more details about the game after the break!
The game has been rumored for quite some time, but the game did not officially exist in the public spectrum until John Pleasants, Co-President of Disney Interactive, shared a few details about the title, which was then referred to by code-name “Toy Box.” Here is the specific quote from the New York Times interview:
Mr. Pleasants is also pouring money into a project Disney refers to as Toy Box, a console game with extensive mobile and online applications in which various Pixar and Disney characters will interact with one another for the first time. “I’m excited about what we’ve already done and where we’re going,” he said, adding that Disney has had three No. 1 apps in the last six months.
Further details were hard to come by until Stitch Kingdom gained access to some important details, such as how gameplay would supposedly involve NFC/RFID scanning of physical items (think collectible figurines/tokens) into the game. Disney Interactive had remained quiet on the existence of the game until yesterday, when the Disney subsidiary sent out invitations to the official announcement of the game in January.
The use of ‘Infinity’ is clearly meant to indicate the enormous amount of possibilities that should be available through the expansion of the gameplay with physical items that can be scanned into the game itself. Activision has had enormous success with its own console game that players can scan figurines into, Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure, which is estimated to bring in over $500 million this year alone. Given the remarkable amount of properties that Disney has access to (Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm), the question is not how large the scope of the game will be – the better question to ask may be just how far Disney Interactive is willing to go, especially with the console games, apps, and online capabilities that Mr. Pleasants is referring to.
Gaming has trended towards mobile devices over the last few years with the success and ease of smartphones. Disney has been at the forefront of that recently with apps that include the ever-addicting Where’s My Water and tie-ins to films (e.g. Wreck-It Ralph, Monsters, Inc. 3D) and Princess properties. While consoles remain popular, the trend to mobile devices may represent the most significant shift in gaming since the Atari made its debut in the 70s. It is a wise move by Disney to increase focus on mobile apps with the smartphone revolution taking the world by storm. Games priced at $0.99 was a novel concept a decade ago, as development costs can be quite expensive, but now app stores are crawling with low-cost games. Studios have had to be creative in order to stay afloat, pricing games low to keep them high on the best-seller lists, but also attaching in-app purchases that can be made by players to extend or enhance the user experience. All of a sudden, games that may only have been sold to a million consumers on consoles, may grace the screens of tens of millions of smartphone owners. Packing in real-world and mobile app interaction into Disney Infinity certainly has the ability to make it into a must-own game.
Another area of question involves the development studio attached to the game. Rumors are swirling that Disney-owned Avalanche Software is spearheading the project. If that is the case, that adds a level of excitement to Infinity as the studio is responsible for the underrated Toy Story 3 and Cars 2 console games, which went well beyond bringing the Pixar worlds to the gaming scene – they were each rather large in scope, had great replay value and shattered the idea that games based on films had to be subpar. Given that we have not heard from Avalanche since the release of the Cars 2 game in 2011, the studio could very well be working behind the curtain on this project.
We should know more details about Disney Infinity next month, as Disney Interactive will be holding an event on January 15, with Pleasants and Disney/Pixar Animation COO John Lasseter announced as presenters expected to share details about the game. I expect to be there next month and will bring you full coverage of all the announcements.