Every summer since 2013, Disney has released a brand-new version of “Disney Infinity,” its $1 billion-plus video game business that features plastic Disney action figures that can turn into characters on the screen.
This year is going to be a different.
Instead of releasing a new version of “Disney Infinity” this year, Disney is committing to supporting the current “Disney Infinity 3.0” version with new levels and new characters, at least through the end of 2016.
(You can check out everything coming to “Disney Infinity” in a gallery at the end of this post.)
The extended support for the 3.0 edition is going to take the form of a quartet of brand-new “playsets,” or playable level packs, coming to the game this year. The first, “Marvel Battlegrounds,” comes out in mid-March. The remaining three will each be themed around Star Wars, Pixar, and Disney, though more details on those are scant.
“‘Disney Infinity 3.0’ will feature more Disney content than any video game ever made,” promises Disney Infinity VP of Production John Vignocchi.
The way “Disney Infinity” works, across video game consoles, smartphones, PCs, and even the Apple TV, is both simple and amazing.
Buy an actual plastic action figure, at an MSRP of $14 a pop, and place it on the USB-connected “Infinity Base” that comes with the game’s starter sets, and use that character in the game. Place Darth Vader on the base, and Darth Vader appears in the game.
To support “Marvel Battlegrounds,” Disney also announced a trio of new Marvel superheroes will be joining the “Disney Infinity” mix: Ant-Man, star of last summer’s hit film; Black Panther, from the upcoming “Captain America: Civil War,” and Vision, of “Avengers: Age of Ultron” fame.
As an added bonus, a retro version of Baloo from “The Jungle Book” will also be added to Disney Infinity, to promote the forthcoming live-action adaptation of the Disney animated classic. And the lead characters from the soon-to-be-released computer animated film “Zootopia” are also be making their “Disney Infinity” debut.
“We say, if it’s happening inside Disney, it’s happening inside ‘Disney Infinity,'” Vignocchi says.
For “Disney Infinity” superfans like myself, not releasing a new version is definitely the biggest and most exciting change to the game.
Each new version of “Disney Infinity” adds something new to the mix: The first version focused on Disney and Pixar characters; “Disney Infinity 2.0” added Marvel Super Heroes, and 3.0 introduced the “Star Wars” galaxy to the game. Each version has also upped the graphics and fine-tuned the gameplay, especially in regards to combat and vehicles.
Between all three versions, and all of that corporate synergy, “Disney Infinity 3.0” has a playable cast of over a hundred, all drawn from the biggest franchises in pop culture.
“We feel we’ve integrated all of the key brands into the ‘Disney Infinity’ market,” Vignocchi says. “We do support one of, if not the, largest selection of playable characters in a single video game.”
The catch, though, is that each new version of “Disney Infinity” also complicates matters for existing owners with issues of compatibility — not to mention making fans shell out for a new game.
The most noticeable example of that compatibility complexity is that you can use the figures from 1.0 and 2.0 in 3.0, but not vice-versa. And you can’t play 1.0 or 2.0 playset adventures in “Disney Infinity 3.0.” Queen Elsa, pictured here, is a 1.0 figure.
So releasing a new version now would already complicate that scenario. And given that Disney’s core demographic is, unsurprisingly, families playing with their kids, the notion of having to buy a new game, with new figures, just to keep up with new releases, is increasingly unappealing.
Meanwhile, as Vignocchi notes, with all of the big franchises already integrated, “Disney Infinity” is at a good stopping point to build, refine, and expand, rather than to release a brand new version.
Vignocchi says that there are a few benefits from their side: First off, there are those who were on the fence about “Disney Infinity 3.0,” nervous that they would buy it just in time for a hypothetical 4.0 edition. Second, it means that they can focus on expanding the features for existing customers.
“We can prioritise features much more quickly,” Vignocchi says.
Check out all the new stuff coming to “Disney Infinity” below: