Peter Kafka

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Disney Takes on Games, Again, With Infinity

Disney owns the kids entertainment market — except when it comes to video games, where the Mouse has had a rough go of it.

Here’s its latest attempt to break through: Disney Infinity, a series of games aimed at console game players.

That is: People who play games on Microsoft’s Xbox 360, Sony’s PS3 and the Nintendo Wii.

Short version: Infinity is a series of games linked together via a virtual “toy box,” so players can swap and modify characters from one game and bring them into another. Which means Sully from “Monsters University” can jump into a “Pirates of the Caribbean” game, etc.

The games also incorporate real-world collectible toys, which players use to unlock characters, games, etc. And you can also buy “power up” packs and other modules to boost/alter your games.

Or, for those of you who know kids of a certain age: This is a lot like Skylanders, except with Disney/Pixar characters that you can mash up. For the rest of you: Skylanders is a super-successful franchise from Activision that has generated $500 million in retail sales in a couple years.

That last sentence helps clarify what Disney is trying to do here. But if you’re wondering why Disney is focused on big, expensive (a “starter pack” for Infinity, which includes three games, will go for $75) console games, when the big trend in gaming is toward cheap/free casual/mobile games like Angry Birds, then Disney gaming chief John Pleasants wants to reassure you: They’re not.

“We’ve been fairly clear in our communications with folks that we have made a fairly big shift into online, mobile and social,” he says. And Infinity won’t change that.

But since people are still spending an awful lot of time on console games — and Sony et al are prepping the next generation of those machines — there’s no reason to abandon the market.

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