19 January 2013 ~ Comments Off

Disney Infinity – Start Of A Flood Of Video Game/Toy Fusion Products?

Why Disney Infinity Doesn’t Signal The Start Of A Flood Of Video Game Plus Toy Products A La Skylanders

One of THE biggest trends of the last year or so, and one of the biggest trends for the next 5 years+ is the fusion of on-screen Gaming with physical Toys. Let’s face it, Skylanders has been huge in a way that few Toy products manage.

And if we look at the interactive functionality of Skylanders Toys, they are comparatively simple in technical terms – Technology has a lot more to offer in the coming years as this Category evolves, and I expect Skylanders to get smarter and smarter in terms of the functionality of the Toys, now that the Franchise is established as a huge Global Brand.

In short, Skylanders is not going away.

So what should we make of the annoucnement of Disney Infinity, which if I can use a rather simplistic comparison, seems set to be something like Skylanders with Disney characters?

My first reaction upon seeing the announcement and watching the trailer was WOW!

WOW for 2 reasons:

1. Because it’s huge news, and as Disney is a massive Brand, an entertainment powerhouse and has the most wonderful universe of Branded characters going, the potential experience and commercial potential is vast.

2. Because this is a very ballsy move! The cost of entry into this Category are very significant, and the business model is inherently risky, because it combines both the heavy development investment of a traditional Video game with the higher manufacturing cost as a percentage of sales of traditional Toys. If you look at the story of THQ of late, there disastrous punt on UDraw can’t have helped their current plight.

Now frankly, with the Disney Brand, their marketing might and the awe inspiring array of characters avvailable it seems likely that Disney will be successful, but in the end one of the key criteria for launching such an initiative must be deep pockets, and the ability to survive the hangover if it doesn’t work.

That actually doesn’t leave many companies left with a chance of taking a punt at this.

Hasbro or Mattel have been burned by the Video games model before, and as such License their rights out. Could we see Hasbro Licensing rights to a Game/Toy fusion product line based on Transformers? I’d say it’s more than possible, maybe even likely. Because EA must be looking at the success of Skylanders with green eyes.

However, what I find most interesting is that Disney are launching with their own brand and array of characters versus Star Wars. Clearly Infinity will have been in R&D for some time, and perhaps this explains why Disney is the Brand/character universe being utilised, but nevertheless, Star Wars in this format would be an unbelievably stron combination…I can’t wait!

Whatever happens, the Toy market is set to see yet more innovation, despite the tough times…

All the best

Steve

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