Disney revamps gaming strategy with big 'Infinity' bet

The company has reportedly spent $100 million to develop the massive video game. Consumers will pay some steep costs for the title as well.

By Julie K Balise Aug 16, 2013 3:49PM

Disney (DIS) hopes to breathe new life into its money-losing interactive unit this weekend with a new video game platform called "Infinity," CNBC's Julia Boorstin reported on Friday.


"Infinity" players will use Disney and Pixar characters to navigate the game's worlds. Sounds traditional enough, but this platform comes with a twist: Players choose their character by placing a figure onto the game's base, which connects to a console.


"Infinity" can be played using Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles. It will be released August 18.

The "Infinity" starter pack includes a game disc, base, play sets, and figures from "Pirates of the Caribbean," "Monsters University" and "The Incredibles." The starter pack will be priced at $75, according to the report.


New locations and characters from "The Lone Ranger" and "Cars" will be available in add-on sets, which will cost $35. Individual figures can be purchased for $13.


"We can't expect Marvel and Star Wars characters to come into the mix, which would be a dramatic shift for Disney which has never before allowed characters from its different worlds to mix," Boorstin said in the report.


A general view of the atmosphere at an exclusive London launch event for upcoming videogame 'Disney Infinity.' (© David M. Benett/Getty Images for Disney Infinity)While the company's third-quarter earnings were nearly flat, its interactive revenue dropped 7% to $183 million, according to the company's earnings report.


The "Infinity" game platform differs from Disney's previous approach of introducing a standalone video game for every major movie release, according to Boorstin.


"But this is still a huge bet that Disney can make in-house video games work," Boorstin said in the report. "And if it doesn't work, Disney may have to consider moving to a strategy where it just licenses those big brands."

Disney has spent more than $100 million to make "Infinity" and its associated toys, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing people close to the company. That's comparable to the costs for a major film production.


Boorstin compared "Infinity" to Activision's "Skylanders" franchise, which launched for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo 3DS, and PCs in 2011. Players also use toy figures in those games to represent characters on the screen.

Disney "Infinity" is being embraced on social media, with its new Facebook page getting 534,000 likes and its Twitter profile attracting more than 21,000 followers.


The game's appeal will be put to the test this holiday season. It may be able to revive the company's interactive division, according to one analyst.


"I think this game has billion-dollar potential on an annual basis and, I would guess, at a 50% margin or higher," Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities said in the report. "So I think this has the potential to generate $500 million in annual profit."


The starter pack is currently available for pre-order.


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Tags: DISRetail
Aug 16, 2013 5:42PM
Yeah this will go over well in a market where people can't even afford $59.99 for a new game.  My kids bugged me every day for lots of Skylanders characters, and now they're just collecting dust.  I'm not doing that again.
Aug 16, 2013 6:17PM
Price is too high, quality is typically too low.
Aug 16, 2013 6:03PM
mb, was gonna say the same thing.  It's already been done.
Aug 23, 2013 5:07PM
My daughter is in tears and our whole family is very sad cause Disney decide to close Pixie Hollow online world. 
This decision (and they did not offer anything else near as good as a substitute )
We do not like Infinity at all.
The kids say that not only us adults.
Not impressed by its 3d .
And someone said before - price is too high.
And what - to get "into" Infinity and put effort in it and then Disney just say "no more".

My daughter and her friends do not even look forward to new movies any more - magic is gone.

Disney seems to be walking on the wrong path ...

Disney caters to the higher end segment of America. Here is another example. Middle class families can't reach for things like this. Not right now. People need value in what they buy.
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