Disney Infinity Cancelled: Is the Toys to Life Genre Dwindling?

At one point in time, we were all children.. some of us admittedly more nerdy than others, but hey who’s judging here? We played with our toys, creating stories and imagining they had their own unique personalities, and overall had a great time doing so (at least we hope!). We ultimately saw a glimpse of this in Disney’s original Toy Story, where Andy’s toys came to life when he wasn’t there and enjoyed their own adventures and displayed their reactions to a shiny, new addition to the family. These dreams and movie themes, within the past 5 years, have come to fruition within the toys-to-life industry. Since Skylander’s creation in 2011, we have seen 2 other major toys-to-life games created, Disney Infinity and Lego Dimensions. These games have changed the way in how kids play, picking up action figures or small Lego sets and turning them into digital characters on a screen, but now seems to be losing steam. Are this generation of children already over this relatively new industry? Disney thinks so…

In May of this year, Disney Interactive cancelled future iterations and stopped production on Disney Infinity 3.0 (which already has had an online gaming preference across a few multiple platforms). A comment from Disney states that:

 “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.  This means that we will be shutting down Avalanche, our internal studio that developed the game.  This was a difficult decision that we did not take lightly given the quality of Disney Infinity and its many passionate fans.”

Being a toys-to-life game, the whole point is to continue to produce waves of new product that continue to enhance the play of the base game. In Disney Infinity’s case the base game included: the disc to play the game, 2-3 figures, and a play set/free mode coupled into a game pack. Over time, Disney would release additional play sets and characters that you can add to an existing play set. The problem with this business model I have found, through experience playing the game, is that there is little to no incentive to buy an additional figure to an existing play set once you have already beaten the story content (which only lasts around 6-8 hours). You are relying on your customer base to replay short story modes they have already played recently just to say they beat the Star Wars set with Darth Vader and not Luke or Leia. On top of this, some characters are only used in the free play mode and don’t have their own story mode or content to play through. Furthermore, at a price point of $29.99-39.99 per play set and roughly $12.99 per character, it is pretty costly to get a character without a story mode or add on new characters to an existing play set.

Now that Disney is formally backing out of this genre, the implications it may have on the industry are potentially substantial. Since E3, however, both Lego and Activision have announced not only a new Skylanders game, but additional content to be added into Lego Dimensions. Disney’s failure to continue to strike it big in this genre hasn’t halted Lego and Activision’s plans at all, so it seems. This genre, however, needs to learn from Disney’s mistakes in order for them to continue to draw customers to their shelves. In our opinion, the main things going forward need to be affordability, quality, and content driven additions. By making the games longer, the additions to a particular level or play set available immediately, and making them cost effective and reasonable to add, we can continue to see toys-to-life thrive in other areas. If not, these other games may end up in the sale bin alongside Infinity 3.0. If you’ve ever had any exposure to Disney Infinity, or are sad to see it go — let us know in the comments section below; we’d love to hear what you have to say! Until then, gamers!

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