HOLD YOUR HORSES
Disney has been off its game for the past couple years. After failing to do anything meaningful with a couple of their key franchises (Kingdom Hearts), they’ve only made headlines by closing LucasArts and losing money. Since its inception in 2008, their interactive division has lost money in all but one quarter, good for over a billion in total operating losses up to now.
And so naturally, as one might imagine, the best way to turn around a struggling division is to throw an ostentatious party in an old LA theater, show off clips from upcoming films, and whip together a game that crams every character they own into a grab-bag gameplay. Say hello to Disney Infinity:
I’m not particularly well versed on all the different franchises proper they’ve created, versus those they’ve sacked and assimilated into their Borg like structure. The different faces paraded around did seem like just about everyone. Now imagine all those goofy creatures driving cars, smashing boats, platforming, solving puzzles, and fighting each other.
An E3 trailer where they (facetiously?) beg us to vote Infinity in as the Best _____ of E3 2013 will help explain:
The gameplay revolves around the Toy Box, a tabula rasa where you can mix in characters and objects to compose exactly the kind of game type that you want to experience within the Disney universe(s). Acquire more characters and more objects, throw together a more bombastic Toy Box, do crazier things. It’s certainly ambitious, I’ll give them that.
Did I mention that Infinity is a figurine based game ala Skylanders? Obviously. It is marketed to the 6-14 demographic after all. Like Skylanders you begin with a starter pack that features a few characters, then buy additional figurines to mix in new faces. Place your figures on a pad to swoosh them into the game where you can actually play with them. All of this will be obscenely expensive when added up: the starter pack goes for $75, while the 3-pack of characters will run you $30.
Here’s one of the producers explaining how all of this comes together:
Infinity seems needlessly complicated. Especially for the very young age group they’re targeting. Especially for a six platform release. Especially for a title that is supposed to flip their team’s fortunes. Didn’t they see the writing on the wall when it was necessary to create an episodic YouTube series explaining how the game works?
Disney won’t say how much they’ve spent on this bloated monstrosity, but they have confirmed that more than 200 people have been working on this game for over three years. So they’re obviously throwing the resources behind the project, but is their head in the right place? Everything points to a development agenda governed by marketing campaigns and clever business decisions.
Quotes coming out of their interactive division further confirm this. Said John Pleasants (co-President):
We have really tipped the scales in a very different way…trying to get our development dollars and our energy focused on where the river is running fastest and where the growth is.
Said Disney CEO Bob Iger:
We believe in Infinity…We think it will be a great product and it’s going to drive profitability.
Get that money, Disney.