Earlier this week, Disney Interactive invited bloggers and writers from around the world to participate in a news conference to present their newest gaming platform. This is something that Disney's been working on for a long time and you can tell they are deeply invested in just by the excitement exhibited by the day's three presenters: Disney Interactive Co-President John Pleasants, Academy Award winning Director and head of the Disney-Pixar Animation Studios John Lasseter and the VP and GM of Avalanche Software, John Blackburn. As a gaming parent, my interest was piqued and I just couldn't wait to see what they had in store for us.
What was presented to us was Disney Infinity, a whole new cross-console platform that takes the best of gaming, play, and creativity to combine into one mega-experience. The aim, said Pleasants, was to create a whole new, unexpected gaming experience based on the idea of childhood play: something all three men had been working on while building the Toy Story 3 video game. The idea behind the movie franchise and the game is simple: when kids are involved in creative play, they just pull all their different toys out of their toy box and create new scenarios and adventures. Why couldn't they do that in a digital game? This is how Infinity was born.
Infinity works in 3 ways. First, there are stand alone games called Play Sets. These games are set in the world of each of the characters. For example, Capt. Jack Sparrow has his own playset and can play with other characters from the Pirates franchise in a pre-populated world. The play sets are more like your standard video game. Going forward, I think each Disney/Pixar property will have it's own playset. But here's where Infinity differs—you buy a starter pack of software, but the games are unlocked by beautiful vinyl figurines that can be collected and played with by kids. The more figurines you collect, the more toys you can add to your virtual Toy Box.
The Toy Box is what's different here. As John Lasseter said in the conference, kids just "pull their toys out and play" creating different stories and tableaus and they wanted to take that creative play, that active imagination and move it into a digital world. Users can take all their different characters and build their very own video games creating scenes and adventures never before even dreamed of by the studio.
Pretty neat, huh?
The price points aren't low, so I suspect that this will not be a cheap endeavour, but for serious gaming families and those who have kids who are interested in digital creative building, this will be a worthwhile investment. The starter packs will be coming out in June this year (starting at $74.99) featuring Sully, Capt. Jack and Mr. Incredible and by year's end, they expect to have many more playsets available (staring at $29.99), hopefully eventually having the entire Disney/Pixar universe available to combine in an infinite number of ways.
I, for one am pretty excited about this although I don't think my wallet will be.
So, spill it! Will you be getting your kids into Disney Infinity?