Disney is once again trying to gain a foothold in the video game market. This time, it involves a multi-million dollar expansion over all major platforms, including media devices and home computers. Disney Infinity is a multi-player game using elements from previous Disney games as well as other successful video games to create an universe that may eventually include every Disney character ever made, from Jack Sparrow to Donald Duck to Iron Man. Players can build, battle or ride vehicles through different levels. While its release on various platforms will be staggered, the roll-out begins in June.
The hardware for Disney Infinity includes a plastic base that acts as a reader. Players collect plastic figures that contain RFID chips that they place on the base which then reads the chip. When read by the base, characters and objects become playable in the game itself. However, the base only has three slots for reading the plastic figures which cuts down game players to just 1-3 at a time. It’s possible that like Halo, other players can be added through game networks but that doesn’t help households with multiple children or when more than three friends are hanging out together.
Based on the Skylander model that has made Activision Blizzard over 500 million dollars since 2011, the base will come with three figures and cost around 75 dollars. The bases aren’t interchangeable and a player will need a separate base for each gaming device. In order to add more characters and elements to their game, players will need to buy additional figures. The initial release will have 17 characters available at 13 dollars for a single pack or multipacks with three characters and/or weapons and/or objects for 25 dollars. In order to have a more affordable option, there will also be blind bags containing plastic discs for five dollars each. The plastic discs will fit underneath the toy figurine on the reader slot so that it saves a slot for other figurines but it also only applies to that specific character. These power rings will be unique to Disney Inifinity and aren’t found in any other reader-based game. They’re similar to the power-up cards in Pokemon.
The Game Itself
Players navigate their characters through their home levels. On regular mode, characters can only be played in their specific levels. Jack Sparrow can’t appear in Halloweentown. Perry the Platypus can’t sneak around Radiator Springs. Not only does this restrict gameplay, but players might not be allowed access to levels until they buy the characters associated with those levels. There appears to be no current plans to allow other characters into previously beaten levels which is an extremely popular feature of Lego games.
The biggest draw to Disney Infinity will be the Toy Box mode. Some may recall the Toy Box mode from the Toy Story 3 games. It allowed players to play multiple characters, build cities and play games but it had a lot of restrictions about what could be done in it. This game lifts those restrictions, making it more like the popular online games, Minecraft and Roblox. You can build anywhere. You can build anything. You can combine stories so that the Black Peal docks at Magic Kingdom or Jesse is best friends with Helen Parr. You can even build stuff that isn’t Disney at all like Bag End or Hogwarts. You can battle each other, like Jack Sparrow vs. Zurg. You can ride vehicles you unlock or create, such as Davy Jones riding a monster truck made out of a carriage. There will be mini-games. However, unlike Minecraft and Roblox, you will not be able to upload your created levels online or onto a private server for others to try out.
There’s no word yet on whether the online version will feature additional elements that can be purchased like the current Disney games on Facebook.
Disney has a five year plan in mind for Disney Infinity and is already working on the sequel. The initial characters don’t include the classic characters like Mickey Mouse, the Muppets, Marvel or anyone from Lucasfilm’s properties so they must be coming in future expansion packs.
It’s also curious to note how the figures run on RFID chips just like the new armbands and passes at the theme parks. It would be very simple to incorporate the two technologies. Park guests could be allowed access to special unlocked features, games or characters when they arrived home and put the pass or armband on the game base. Those who had participated in Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom or Disney Phineas and Ferb: Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure might be able to play special levels based on those games.
Disney Infinity looks like it should be a clear success for Disney since it combines collectible figures, blind packs and video games but we won’t know until June at the earliest.
What do you think? Will you be buying it? Which character do you want to play most?