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- Disney Infinity
Disney gonna make a f***-ton of money.
Disney. Game. Action Figures. Money. The end.
Last year at E3 I came away from the conference with the idea that Activision had discovered a way to print money with by putting action figures into a video game. Disney has expanded and perhaps perfected the model with Disney Infinity.
Disney Infinity swaps the single input Skylanders portal for the Infinity Base, with slots for two figures and a slot for Playsets (Pixar gameplay areas). This means Disney will sell you not only the figures, but also levels to play those characters in, individually. The $74.99 Starter set gives you three Playsets (Pirates of the Caribbean, Monsters U, and The Incredibles) and a character from each of those playsets. With Pixar's Monsters U soon to be released in theatres, the atmosphere is primed for the movie tie-in.
"We did not go storyline by storyline," Avalanche Software Development Manager Mike Garner explained, when I asked about the playsets. "We expanded from the movies." For instance, in the Monsters U playset, you play as a monster during Fear Week and play pranks on rival school Fear Tech (a school that is only referenced in the films) which has an entire environment.
Playing through the playsets unlocks "spins," featuring Disney Infinity's leveling system. Spins are a mini-game where you purchase material unlocked from playsets in the Toy Box, an open-world game building area where you can build anything, a mode first included in the Toy Story 3 video game and now expanded for Disney Infinity.
Character Sculpter Shane Olson said that Disney creative head John Lassiter balked at the idea of characters interacting in each other's playsets, because those worlds shouldn't cross over. However, the Toy Box is the open world, the children's playset where you can invite friends to play with you and have any character interact with any other. Put down Syndrome from The Incredibles next to a Pirates character, and he'll ask where he can get a pirate hat. They were able to retain most of the original voices from the films as well, with a few exceptions with holdouts for more money or scheduling problems.
The game really is set up to print money, as additional playsets cost $34.99, expand Toy Box materials and come with two figures per world. Currently, a Cars playset has been announced with another playset to be announced later this summer. The individual figures cost $13.99 and Power Discs (which either provide buffs for characters or change the texture or material properties of the Toy Box) will come in packs of 2 for $5. The power disc distribution will be random and blind, like CCG cards, and Disney expects them to be a tradable item around the schoolyard.
The Toy Box is the clear selling point for creative players and the hardcore, and combines the collectible figure play of Activision's Skylanders with the creativity of LittleBigPlanet. Olson demoed not just the building blocks for environments, but what they called Creativitoys, basic programming tools and game mechanics that could be constructed and linked with a flick of Mickey's magic wand, the creation tool within the Toy Box.
Olson shared that they had challenged themselves to remake classic games like Gauntlet and Joust. They even developed camera tools that would fix the camera in top-down isometric view or side-scrolling view for platformers. You can populate your game world with friendly NPCs. He mentioned that it was fun to build a world filled with NPCs on two sides and just watch them slug it out in a level as a simulation. In the Toy Box you can play up to 4 players multiplayer online or two-player local split-screen. Split-screen players can play online, but only up to four total players.
For the Toy Box alone, Disney Infinity is a great buy for anyone who wants to build their own games or is curious about game design. It expands on their previous Toy Story 3 game tools and allows them to introduce more material and have better control over that implementation. Additionally, they have the potential to continuously expand with more Disney franchise playsets (and the devs were drooling over the idea of getting to play with Marvel and Lucasfilm properties).
It's a big step from Skylanders. "We have game mechanics," Garner told me when I asked about the comparison. "What did they add, a jump button?"
Disney Infinity plans to release August 18, 2013 in the States on Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, and Wii U. It will also have SKUs for PC and 3DS.