Disney shutters "Disney Infinity" video game business

Posted:
in General Discussion edited May 2016
Just over one month after Disney discontinued support for "Disney Infinity 3.0" on Apple TV, the company on Tuesday announced plans to abandon Disney Infinity altogether, citing poor financials.




Disney informed stockholders of its decision in today's quarterly earnings report (PDF link), noting the shut down of operations will result in a $147 million charge against company revenue for the second fiscal quarter of 2016.

Disney Infinity launched in 2013, the result of a partnership between Avalanche Software and Disney's in-house publishing studio. Utah-based Avalanche will close its doors as part of the deal. The hybrid game system plays on various Disney franchises and features a mix of software and physical elements, the latter being collectible figures released in "waves." The most recent release, "Disney Infinity 3.0," introduced characters from "Star Wars," ""Inside Out" and the Marvel universe, among others.

"By now you may have heard the news that we have made the difficult decision to discontinue production of Disney Infinity," Disney Infinity SVP and GM John Blackburn said in a blog post. "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."

An Apple TV version of "Disney Infinity 3.0" debuted last November, with purchasing options including a pricey starter kit that came with Apple's fourth-generation set-top and a SteelSeries Nimbus controller. Disney quietly discontinued support for Apple's platform in March, suggesting the future of Infinity has been in peril for months.

There are two products left in Disney Infinity's pipeline, including this month's release of three new characters from "Alice Through the Looking Glass" and the "Finding Dory Play Set" scheduled to launch in June. A "Peter Pan" set was due later this year, but it appears those products have been canceled.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 23
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,697member
    We hardly knew ye…

  • Reply 2 of 23
    They took it far too seriously.  If they had "gamified" their own enterprise, it might have lasted longer.  I mean, the name "Infinity" alone is a dead giveaway it wasn't gonna last.
  • Reply 3 of 23
    Pull Apple support and the sales goes down the crapper so they have to shut it down completely.  Apple users are the only people with money!  I hope Disney learned their lesson.
    edited May 2016
  • Reply 4 of 23
    chrispoechrispoe Posts: 80member
    Disney Infinity is nothing more than a copycat of Nintendo's Amiibo.

    moreck
  • Reply 5 of 23
    calicali Posts: 3,494member
    I'm wondering if amiibo had anything to do with this?

    amiibo makes Nintendo a ton of money but strangely Disney is better at marketing their own characters.  Most Nintendo characters are no where near as popular as Disney's.

    A lot of kids think R.O.B. Is Wall-E for example and the rumored dual lens iPhone camera always gets compared to the Fururama robot but never R.O.B. Even though they look identical.

    Point being: How the hell did Nintendo beat Disney?


  • Reply 6 of 23
    baconstangbaconstang Posts: 690member
    Pull Apple support and the sales goes down the crapper so they have to shut it down completely.  Apple users are the only people with money!  I hope Disney learned their lesson.
    Acquisition by Disney is the kiss of death for most of the companies they buy.
  • Reply 7 of 23
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 13,001member
    Fun game but they should have gone with the less is more route. 
    moreck
  • Reply 8 of 23
    MnMarkMnMark Posts: 22member
    I don't think amibo had anything to do with it. And Activision started it all with Skylanders, the first 'toy' with video game attached in a big way. I think the issue is - how many gamers want ONLY to be tied into Disney universes? I would guess they should have licensed it out, as they have many times in the past stepped into the video game market and then closed shop. They really should just license. I would guess they may end up with some deal for the lego toy/video game thing.
    edited May 2016
  • Reply 9 of 23
    Pull Apple support and the sales goes down the crapper so they have to shut it down completely.  Apple users are the only people with money!  I hope Disney learned their lesson.
    You honestly believe that them pulling the Apple support had anything to do with this?
  • Reply 10 of 23
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,431moderator
    Disney seems like a company that thought they ought to be into games but don't really know how. In mobile, they made Where's My Water with 6 developers in 6 months for ~$200k. It was downloaded over 1 million times for at least $0.99 so at least ~$700k revenue. They made a Candy Crush style game based around Frozen that got over 100 million downloads:

    http://www.disneyinteractive.com/news/games-apps-news/frozen-free-fall-celebrates-100-million-downloads/

    When they took over LucasFilm, they shuttered the games studios:

    http://kotaku.com/disney-shuts-down-lucasarts-468473749

    They seem to have a very scattershot approach to this industry, low risk investment, mimicking already successful ventures and high expectations on returns. The high expectations are evident in their films too. There was a report saying Star Wars the Force Awakens was expected to make $1.5b for it to be considered a success with shareholders:

    http://www.eonline.com/news/723742/star-wars-the-force-awakens-must-earn-1-5-billion-to-be-considered-a-success-and-the-burden-terrifies-j-j-abrams

    Abrams did a great job with it and it exceeded that but Disney, like Apple is being put under pressure to keep consistently delivering huge financial results.

    This studio closure means 300 people out of work. This keeps happening in the games industry because the ongoing costs are high and there's little chance for recurring revenue. That studio could easily cost over $20m a year to run. Epic games said recently that they'd have been bankrupt 3 times if it hadn't been for licensing their Unreal engine. When Irrational Games shut down, it put 75 people out of work. Some went to form small indie game studios, getting funded via KickStarter:

    http://www.themolassesflood.com
    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/molassesflood/the-flame-in-the-flood
    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/perceptiongame/perception-3

    Being financially independent and privately controlled is the best way for games developers to be. That's true of any company but the games industry is very unstable. There's movement towards smaller teams, smaller and more replayable games. Disney/EA has taken this approach with Star Wars Battlefront. It's a multiplayer shooter with a dozen maps and they charge $60 for it. It worked and they sold 14 million copies. This will be a billion-dollar franchise if it's not already and the second version is confirmed:

    http://www.gamespot.com/articles/star-wars-battlefront-2-confirmed-features-content/1100-6439682/
    http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2016-05-10-star-wars-battlefront-ships-14m-copies-as-ea-enjoys-phenomenal-fiscal-2016

    This was using EA as the developer and publisher and just licensing the franchise out.

    Disney owns a lot of franchises and stories but they'll most likely license out titles to coincide with released movies so they'll have to go for productions with fast turnaround times. Standard high production value games take about 3 years minimum to make. For Battlefront 2 in 2017, they just need to make new maps and characters to coincide with the movies Rogue One and Episode 8 and they can charge $60 for it again.

    Disney would be better using the mobile platform to appeal to kids. One franchise they own is the Gummi Bears, that could be redone in 3D:



    They can license out app development to sell sing-a-longs, story books on tablets, it can be like Nintendo's Animal Crossing. They can also do DuckTales, Kingdom Hearts. I was going to say Winnie the Pooh but they've already revisited that in 2011, I didn't even hear about it. I wonder if Apple had a deal with Disney on this because when iBooks launched, they bundled the Winnie the Pooh ebook with it up until May 2011 and the movie released in July 2011. It didn't do very well though:

    http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=winniethepooh.htm

    Kingdom Hearts is an RPG, which works well on mobile devices as it's more interactive stories vs action. That sold really well for Disney on consoles. They are releasing another one soon:

    http://en.yibada.com/articles/122443/20160510/kingdom-hearts-3-release-date-e3-2016-rumors-news.htm

    Interactive content is a small part of Disney's revenue (<3%):

    http://www.businessinsider.com/heres-where-disney-really-makes-money-2015-1

    They probably won't take it very seriously until they figure out a consistent way of making large returns on small investments. Movie production is familiar to them. There's no easy way to consistently translate varied franchises over to games. They can't for example make a multiplayer shooter like the successful Battlefront with Finding Dory characters. They have to figure out in a hit-or-miss way how best to make each franchise into interactive content. This will most likely result in a mixture of more overpriced multiplayer shooters and cloned mobile games with franchise characters.
    moreckfotoformattallest skil
  • Reply 11 of 23
    ewtheckmanewtheckman Posts: 309member
    In today's news, Disney closes their blatant money grab because consumers recognized it as a blatant money grab and stayed away in droves. More on page … Nah. Not worth the bother.
  • Reply 12 of 23
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 2,247member
    cali said:
    I'm wondering if amiibo had anything to do with this?

    amiibo makes Nintendo a ton of money but strangely Disney is better at marketing their own characters.  Most Nintendo characters are no where near as popular as Disney's.

    A lot of kids think R.O.B. Is Wall-E for example and the rumored dual lens iPhone camera always gets compared to the Fururama robot but never R.O.B. Even though they look identical.

    Point being: How the hell did Nintendo beat Disney?


    Amiibo had nothing to do with this. Amiibo isn't even remotely as popular as Disney Infinity or Skylanders. I think the problem is people don't care as much anymore for the games like Infinity and Skylanders. Skylanders has been in a steady decline in sales. I imagine they will face the same fate in a few years. I have a ton of nieces and nephews that play both, but they all stopped playing. In the case of Skylanders, the games have become too repetitive and boring and the characters are the same each year, just with different poses. Activision keeps releases more and more characters with a price increase each year. I think parents are sick of the money grab and how expensive it is to have a decent collection for their kids. Franchises like Infinity and Skylanders have become too stale, so it's really not surprising one of them folded. 
    razorpit
  • Reply 13 of 23
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    PLEASE let this be the start of a second industry collapse.
  • Reply 14 of 23
    bestkeptsecretbestkeptsecret Posts: 3,963member

    Infinity was a rip-off. Glad I'm not the only one who felt that.

    Nice summary Marvin.

  • Reply 15 of 23
    palegolaspalegolas Posts: 1,315member
    In short: sorry guys, infinity sucks, shutting down.
    One of Disney's best game cooperation a must have been with Square, back in the days.
  • Reply 16 of 23
    timgriff84timgriff84 Posts: 912member
    chrispoe said:
    Disney Infinity is nothing more than a copycat of Nintendo's Amiibo.

    Infinity came out a year before Amiibo. Both are a copy of Activisions skylanders though.
    razorpitjasenj1
  • Reply 17 of 23
    chrispoechrispoe Posts: 80member
    chrispoe said:
    Disney Infinity is nothing more than a copycat of Nintendo's Amiibo.

    Infinity came out a year before Amiibo. Both are a copy of Activisions skylanders though.
    Skylanders was first to use the figurine gameplay concept in 2011, but Nintendo started the using interactive figurines with the game Pokemon Rumble U in March of 2013. Disney Infinity came out later in August 2013.


    razorpit
  • Reply 18 of 23
    redstaterredstater Posts: 49member
    Basically this story has almost nothing to do with Apple. Kind of sad to see Avalanche go though. But it happens ... small but successful outfit gets bought out by a bigger company to serve a different purpose, and when the new purpose either fails or is fulfilled they shut it down. Also, casual console type gaming is in decline in favor of mobile though and has been for a long time which is why the market first winnowed from Atari, Sega and Nintendo to just Nintendo, and now finally Nintendo is having problems (the Wii motion controller thing saved them because the GameCube was a disaster, but now it looks like it only delayed the inevitable). Even gaming for "adults" there were three main platforms: PC (including Steam), PlayStation and XBox. PC gaming is in decline even if Steam is included and they are hoping that VR gets that growing again, XBox is a shell of what it used to be, so that just leaves PlayStation, Steam kinda sorta, and everybody else. Sure, there's mobile, but it is hard to maintain consistent profitability on mobile. Example: Rovio. Supercell (Candy Crush) isn't what they used to be either, and neither is Halfbrick.

    For all the hype that gaming gets, it really is a tough industry with only a few players that stay in business for very long.
    razorpit
  • Reply 19 of 23
    studiomusicstudiomusic Posts: 639member
    I have a few friends being laid off from this and my son did some testing on Infinity for them.
    Apparently things were very badly run after being bought by Disney. They don't seem to know how to run a game-creating studio.
    /Looks like I dodged a bullet by accepting another job instead of an audio job there... there's going to be a glut of workers in the audio/visual/gaming industry here for a while. :(
  • Reply 20 of 23
    jasenj1jasenj1 Posts: 922member
    That's too bad. Infinity is the only one of the toys-to-life games that has a building/creative component. One of its unique features is the ability to create levels and play all the characters in them.

    I may need to pick up a copy of Infinity and a few figures.

    My daughter and I played the first three Skylanders games to death. She finally aged out of them. But there's a constant stream of kids growing up, so there will always be a market for this sort of game.
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