I have a Disney Infinity pad attached to my Xbox One, with characters on my shelves from Monsters Inc, and Star Wars. I often hunt around on second-hand sites for new characters and play sets to add to my growing collection. I love playing Infinity with my friends, chopping Stormtroopers to bits with them, or putting Scully on the pad and running around bashing each other as Monsters Inc characters. Infinity appealed to my inner geek collector, making my shelves look pretty and giving me hilarious ways to beat up my friends in any given play set. However, Disney has confirmed that Disney Infinity is to be discontinued, and Avalanche, the Salt Lake City studio that led the creation of the game will be shut down, said Jimmy Pitaro, the chair of Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media in a statement emailed to numerous companies.
Although I could have seen this coming, it remains a sad day. Disney recently announced that they would be ‘taking a break’ for a year from producing more content, so the signs were already there. Many loyal fans have however begged that the company continue to support the online segments of the games so that Toybox will be updated with fan made maps for others to play. So often a game is discontinued and servers switched off leaving gamers with little more than a trinket to hold onto, or a game disc that has little use beyond filling space on a gaming shelf. Here is what Disney had to say regarding the decision:
“After a thorough evaluation, we have modified our approach to console gaming and will transition exclusively to a licensing model. This shift in strategy means we will cease production of Disney Infinity, where the lack of growth in the toys-to-life market, coupled with high development costs, has created a challenging business model,” Pitaro said.
In all honesty, it’s not a surprise that Disney has taken this decision, with rivals Skylanders, Lego Dimensions, and Nintendo Amiibo all reporting slowing sales. It doesn’t bode well for other Toys-to-Life producers when the market leader of the segment is pulling the plug. A problem that producers have faced is getting customers to buy new set pieces time and again. Toys-to-Life initiatives starts out well, showing great promise, but asking someone to refresh at cost every year has become a struggle to justify with many Disney Infinity owners choosing not to upgrade to 3.0.
Sales of Disney Infinity had begun to decline over time, as seen in the recent earnings reports from Disney, highlighting why Infinity was eventually sent packing. Luckily for gamers Disney has committed to bringing two new playsets as planned before discontinuing the franchise; ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ later this month, and the ‘Finding Dory’ Play Set launching in June. At least we’ll get more to expand the set if you’re already in the Disney Infinity multiverse but it’s sad of course that there will be no more play sets or models to come.
Disney has said that they will move to a licensing agreement, seeing them exit the market entirely as a publisher focusing instead on strategic partnerships with studios and publishers. EA has produced Star Wars Battlefront, with other titles on the way, whilst other studios and publishers and in talks to bring out new games based upon the Disney universe. Disney Infinity was different, as it was directly linked to Disney allowing them great power to make sure that Disney Infinity was a quality product. With Infinity gone, and the announcement of the licensee model, it will bring ‘The House of Mouse’ money without the risk and expense of supporting a home-grown game and product line that could ultimately fail. Disney announced that this discontinuation is coupled with a write down of $147m in losses attributed to Disney Infinity itself. That has to sting even the pocket of Disney, proving to be a smudge on their name with gamers as well.
It’s sad that my collection will eventually be memorabilia. I had high hopes for Disney Infinity as a platform. Skylanders had always been something I have looked at derisively, appearing too child-like, marketed to children, and lacking the buy-in that the Disney world has. Disney Infinity allowed me to play as my favourite characters, hunting out some of the rarer figures, and providing for hilarity and hi-jinks swapping in weird characters in different play sets. I don’t know about any other Infinity owners but this announcement reminds me of the end of Toy Story 3 when Andy gives Woody away. We all got sad at that part of the film when his old toys were no longer wanted. Disney just took a leaf out of his book, dropping off their box of toys to a garage sale, and watched Infinity disappear in the rear-view mirror.