As momentum mounts for toy-integrated gaming products, Disney’s long-anticipated Infinity platform made its debut yesterday in Hollywood, California. From Disney Interactive and Avalanche Software comes an open-ended play model that allows users to interact with Disney and Pixar characters within video games that are compatible with more than 30 collectible physical pieces.
The initial Disney Infinity product will come with three games, otherwise known as Play Sets: Monsters University, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Incredibles. Of the collectible goods, there will be 17 character figurines that can enter into their corresponding video game through an Infinity Base and, through the new Toy Box feature, can be altered by users in customizable play. So, when placed in the Toy Box, Pirates of the Caribbean‘s Jack Sparrow can duke it out with a character from the Monsters, Inc franchise .
The Toy Box mode will also allow players to share their custom creations with friends both online and off – the latter through physical tokens known as Power Discs, which can be placed on the Infinity Base to enhance characters with new powers and gadgets. Customizations aside, players can still partake in traditional game play in the three games, which feature puzzles, enemies to battle, various locations from Disney films, and the ability to collect and save character vehicles and gadgets.
Toted as the House of Mouse’s most ambitious gaming initiative to date, Disney Infinity will launch in June across Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U, and 3DS and will continue to roll out in phases across mobile and online platforms throughout the year.
Inevitably, the product echoes the success of Activision’s Skylanders gaming juggernaut. Since launching in 2011 with Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure, the gaming franchise and its integrated toys have racked up more than US$500 million at retail. The most visible differences between Infinity and Skylanders are the use of the upgradable plastic tokens and the ability to play online. And, of course, Disney is working with brand recognition. Whereas Skylanders introduced an original slate of characters and stories, Infinity banks on the known likeability of the Pixar and Disney faces. How young players interact with the characters in these new formats, however, will all be part of the waiting game.