We’ve been to this dance before. It was only a few years ago that Disney pulled the cord on console game making because of lack of profitability. It came back to the console arena with its toys to life Disney Infinity franchise hoping to capitalize on the huge success of Activision’s Skylanders. While it was initially a strong property with figures and games selling at a brisk pace, the market has become saturated with competing products. Now Disney Interactive is exiting the console market once again and abandoning Disney Infinity. It will still release games for mobile devices and will license out its characters to other publishers.
Over the past few years, both WB Games and Nintendo hopped into the field. The former launched its Lego Dimensions game and the accompanying interactive build-them-yourself toys, and Nintendo made a huge splash with its amiibo line of figures. With four competing toy lines that had little to no compatibility with each other, the market couldn’t support everyone at the levels required to remain profitable. Perhaps the writing was on the wall the past few Black Fridays when the publishers were willing to sell the starter kits at a steep discount (often over 50% off) just to get the software into consumers’ hands in hopes of recouping the losses by selling more toys. Over the past 9 months there has barely been a week that’s gone by where Disney Infinity figures themselves weren’t discounted at one retailer or another, oftentimes up to 50% off. You know you’re in trouble if the moneymaking part of your economy has to be slashed in half to move product.
The scary part is that it’s not just Infinity seeing the markdowns every week. Skylanders are also often marked down to clear shelf space for new figures. Perhaps more worrying is Lego Dimensions, a brand new property that’s not even a year old, has seen massive discounts across the board. The $14.99 Fun Packs saw an extended 50% off sale at many retailers this spring, and have now received a permanent price reduction to $11.99, with sale prices going as low as $6.49. This isn’t a healthy proposition for the toys to life industry, and it’s beginning to look like it may suffer the same consequence that shelved the last gaming fad, the interactive music games: Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Only after being absent from the market for several years were they able to rise from the ashes, so perhaps that’s what needs to happen here as well.
Of course, if Lego Dimensions is still able to turn a profit and they continue to make figures, does Disney exiting this competitive field open up the possibility to getting some Star Wars and Marvel Lego figures? It’s too soon to tell, but perhaps we’ll know more toward the end of the year. In the meantime, Disney Infinity will still see the release of three new Alice Through The Looking Glass figures and a Finding Dory Play Set. Expect retailers to begin massive clearances in the months ahead. If you’re trying to collect specific Infinity figures, you may want to nab them up before they disappear forever.
Disney Interactive had this to say on its official blog:
By now you may have heard the news that we have made the difficult decision to discontinue production of Disney Infinity. From the beginning, Disney Infinity was built for you—our fans—and I wanted to take a moment to thank you not just for your support over the years, but for creating a community that made Disney Infinity more than just a game.
Our goal for Disney Infinity was to bring the best of Disney storytelling to life in homes around the world, and with your support we accomplished that. We hope you had as much fun playing the game as we had making it.
So what’s next for Disney Infinity? We have two final retail releases coming, including three new characters from Alice Through the Looking Glass later this month, and the Finding Dory Play Set launching in June.
And as we turn to the next chapter in our story, I want to thank everyone who helped bring Disney Infinity to life, particularly Disney’s Glendale-based production and publishing teams, our external development partners, and of course the incredible Avalanche team for their tireless dedication to this project.
But most of all, I want to again thank you for making Disney Infinity a part of your lives—and for adding to the Disney legacy by being a part of this community.