Disney’s Non-Traditional Move In the Video Game Industry

Disney InfinityWhile the console video game industry is experiencing a decrease in sales, Disney revealed its decision to launch Infinity, a video-game platform, where fans will be able to choose and simultaneously display characters from Disney’s different worlds. Zintro experts share their opinions on this non-traditional strategy and discuss whether it will bring huge success to Disney in this high-risk video game industry.

As Paulo Henriques, an expert in publishing indicates, this approach was previously used in an early form by Nintendo with the Miis of Wii, personal avatars that may feature in a number of games. “Disney had a great crossover experience along with Squaresoft in the Kingdom Hearts series. It makes perfect sense to combine both ideas at a time Disney may soon once again need to re-invent itself and expand its cast like it did in the 1980/90s. The independent platform, however, may prove to be too much for them to handle, unless they can manage to bring some good softhouses aboard,” Henriques explains. “Otherwise, they may just end up like Nintendo with the N64 and the GameCube: starved of titles. The sandbox idea is perfect, but the independent platform is risky, especially considering they have at least 3 giants to face. Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony could have been their partners, but Disney seems to have chosen to fight.”

According to Lutz Muller, an expert in the toy and video game space, Disney’s Infinity is an attempt to cash in to the success of the Skylanders, Activision’s phenomenally successful product entry bridging the gap between toys and video games. “The Skylanders are today the #1 Action Figure in the U.S., France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.K. and have in the process relegated to second and third place such icons as Star Wars, Transformers, Avengers, Spiderman and Batman,” Muller explains. Aside from the Skylanders’ significant growth, Muller believes that Disney has a much more potent array of themes to draw from including Star Wars, Spiderman and Avengers. “Their first release in June this year will feature Captain Jack Sparrow of the Pirates, Mr Incredible and Sulley of Monsters University – a movie that will be screened to coincide with the launch of Infinity.Whilst NPD and others classify the Skylanders as a video game entry, the major retailers both in the U.S. and in Europe consider it a toy and have put the product into their toy shelf space,” Muller adds. “The betting amongst the national toy buyers is that Disney will appoint either Mattel or Hasbro and just pocket the license fee. If this is the case, the company granted the rights to market Infinity, will have obtained a major competitive advantage over its direct competitors in the Action Figure category.”

Jay Powell, an expert in mobile games, believes that Disney’s game division has made a sound and very wise move. “They have seen the success Activision has had with the Skylanders franchise and decided to build on it. Disney’s library of IP’s sets them up very strongly for this as they can create independent titles within this ecosystem that appeal to boys and girls, as well as their parents,” he notes. “The Lego series of games has shown us that a well-designed game will get the whole family involved, not just the kids.” From Powell’s point of view, the industry is going to go through a new wave of console transition, over the next 18 months. “The Wii U launched to lukewarm success and Sony and Microsoft are gearing up their new consoles. Infinity allows them to be platform agnostic. Users can take the characters to a friend’s house even if the consoles are not the same. Imagine only being able to get a character at opening weekend of a movie or a specific store or park,” he adds. “Don’t forget that Disney owns the Marvel universe as well as Star Wars now as well. Depending on the connectivity we could easily see expansions of Infinity on iOS and Android phones and tablets.”

By Idil Kan

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