After just three years of dominating the toys to life gaming scene, Disney have announced that they are ending their Disney Infinity series.
At first, the news was surprising, as Disney Infinity had been a runaway success. When the game was first released,the toys became a smash hit and many became hard to find in stores. It was a welcome boost for the Disney Gaming division, who hadn’t seen much success beforehand. Between 2008 and 2013, the division lost $1.3 billion, but with the introduction of Disney Infinity they made $550 million in just the first ten months of release. By all accounts, it was a worthy competitor to the likes of Skylanders and Nintendo’s Amiibos.
However, it seems as though Disney’s highly collectible toys may have been part of its downfall. Following on from the initial shortages, they decided to create larger ranges of characters in higher numbers, in order to avoid shortages in the future. The tactic worked to a degree, but soon stores found themselves overflowing with Infinity characters that they just couldn’t shift. Releasing more complete character collections, such as the ones created for the Guardians of the Galaxy film release, meant that there were many minor characters out there that were very well made, but just weren’t selling. Yondu’s toy was good looking, but nobody wanted him, they wanted Starlord.
As an aside, it doesn’t seem to be the first time Disney has struggled with merchandise supply. Following the initial success of Frozen, there was a worldwide shortage of Elsa and Anna dolls (but especially Elsa), leading to crafty eBay sellers selling their own stock for vastly inflated prices.
As well as this, there were issues with what players wanted from the game. When players bought toys, they unlocked characters and contained levels within that character’s world. There was also a main hub level called the Toybox, where all the characters could be used together, but the characters took on a toy style look.
A source that spoke to Kotaku commented that ‘The argument we kept getting from gamers was that “We want to play as Elsa running through Tatooine”’. As any gamer or Disney fan could tell you, being able to mix and match characters and levels would have been incredibly fun to play, but Disney came across complications. As they manage several licenses, such as Star Wars and Marvel, it would have been too difficult to put them in each other’s worlds. Some have found that hard to believe, considering Disney own all of these licenses, so have pondered whether a company with such a tight grip on its image would have wanted to see Merida shooting arrows around Hoth, or Luke Skywalker swinging a lightsaber around Arendelle.
Whatever the reasons for it’s demise, there’s some toys that fans won’t get to see. The final sets to be released will be the Alice Through the Looking Glass set, and the Finding Dory set, both due this June. Scrapped plans included a Star Wars: Rogue One set, and the poll winning Peter Pan set.
Now Disney Infinity is out of the running, we wonder what the other toy to life franchises will respond. Will they start muscling in to fill the gap they left behind, or will a new contender emerge?