Disney have announced this week that they will be discontinuing the Disney Infinity line of video game products with plans to release only two more playsets this year (one for Finding Dory and another for Alice Through the Looking Glass). This has come as a great shock to fans, collectors and the gaming community. I will elaborate (but not exhaustively) on my own thoughts in this post.
Disney have decided that they will be outsourcing development of all their video games and ceasing production of the Disney Infinity range. One reason cited for this was lower-than-expected financial performance. As was the case for many fans of the series, this was a huge shock for me. I always assumed that Disney Infinity was doing very well – particularly considering how often new playsets and figures were being released. One thing that drew me to the series was the inclusion of the Star Wars franchise in Infinity 3.0 and especially with the figures that could be collected of my favourite characters.
What could have gone wrong?
An interesting point to make about the short life that Disney Infinity has had is that although it was primarily marketed towards children, many of the consumers were adults and teenagers. The collectible nature of the figures would have likely appealed to children and adults for different reasons. However in terms of the gameplay it may have been difficult for young children to grasp or just not interesting enough for older children. Interestingly we are at a time now where a very large segment of active gamers are adults rather than children. In general market terms this is very likely a driving force for more games in recent years being released with complex storylines and characters, mature themes and intellectually stimulating content. I was surprised how much I enjoyed the game when I first played it. I was expecting a moderately good platform style game but found it to be so much more than that. However as I have mentioned, the thing that brought me into it was the Star Wars content that was added in Disney Infinity 3.0 as I am a huge Star Wars fan and loved the idea of creating my own worlds for the characters with figures that I could collect. I believe this was likely the reason that many other adults turned to buying Disney Infinity products (for the Star Wars and Marvel content). However, for other adults in the gaming community it may have looked far too childish to be appealing to them, even though when I played Disney Infinity it was very enjoyable and adequately stimulating for me as an adult as I am guessing many mature gamers would agree with me. Essentially it may have not been marketed adequately towards children (who are no longer the largest market in gaming) and did not appeal to many adults without a preexisting interest in the characters because it was difficult to shake off the ‘Disney’ brand image from the product that implied it was “just for children”.
It seems that Disney will keep the online servers for the game running for the foreseeable future although these servers will undoubtedly be shut down at some time in the fairly near future. As for the figures, we may see an increase in selling value of certain figures after some time as collectors seek to complete their collections. I myself will seek to buy only the remaining characters I like but do not yet have, mostly from the Star Wars playsets. But any increase in value of figures will likely happen after a plummet in selling value at retail outlets seeking to clear their stock of Disney Infinity products. I have wondered if any of the following may be possible future considerations:
- Community support: Disney Infinity has enjoyed a large and dedicated fanbase that has grown into a large and active online community, sharing their Toybox creations and gameplay with eachother. There are prominent examples of MMORPGs that have survived long after the developers abandoned them and ceased to provide support because a dedicated fanbase was present who were willing to and able to take over the task of providing support for, and management of, the project. Such examples of this are Star Wars Galaxies and Ultima Online. I wonder if this may be something Disney would allow fans to do? (I doubt it).
- Collectors market: As mentioned, although Disney Infinity was primarily marketed towards children, many of the consumers were adults and teenagers. A large part of the adult market for Disney Infinity showed more interest in the figures as collectibles. In fact, similarly to Amiibo figures, there are many collectors who buy them solely for that purpose and not to play with them. This is very likely to continue to be a driving force for legacy sales of Disney Infinity merchandise. We may find in the near future a plummeting in retail value of Disney Infinity products as vendors seek to clear their stock, followed not too long after by an increase in the average online selling price as collectors bring up the value.
- Future projects: Although very unlikely, Disney may in future decide to undertake a similar project project through licensing with an external developer such as they have done so with Star Wars: Battlefront being produced by Electronic Arts. Could this mean, for example, Star Wars and/or Marvel additions to the Lego Dimensions series licensed by Disney in the future?
- Impact on similar products: Many people have speculated that the demise of Disney Infinity may be an indication that it has lost out to its competitors, namely Nintendo Amiibo, Lego Dimensions and Skylanders. However, I believe it is more likely that these franchises are likely also undergoing difficult times. In the case of Nintendo and its Amiibo range, the primary consumer has largely been the collectors market as opposed to people buying the items as gaming products to play with. This has also been the case to a lesser extent with Disney Infinity. Time will tell if any of Disney’s competitors also manage to stand the test of time and make the format profitable.
What are your thoughts on this news and any of the impacts this will have in the future? Or how it affects other similar gaming products? Please comment below.
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