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Inspiring families with fresh thinking on parenting

Yano — Inspiring families with fresh thinking on parenting

Disney’s latest game: a blockbuster at a big-budget price

Posted on 24th January, 2013 | filed under Featured, Yano Life


If you take your children to a family movie, chances are there will be a video game tie-in to play at home too, but they’re often overpriced and less than great. In the first of a new series, technology critic Andy Robertson looks at how one new game, Disney Infinity, aims to rejuvenate the genre – at a price…

Video games, likes books and films, usually revolve around characters and stories. The popularity of these personas and tales often determines how well the game sells. Because of this, it has long been a trend for video games to follow the release of big-budget movies. This not only grants them a ready-made story and set of characters, but also a household name that will appeal to families, ie children.

Disney and Pixar movies are particularly popular because their digital nature means they are made for conversion. Character designs, voice work and even their virtual worlds offer a perfect starting point for game makers.

Many tie-ins, however, are best avoided – they fail to live up to the movies they’re based on or don’t hold up as games in their own right. Fight Club the video game, for instance, reduced its intelligent and emotional movie reference to an experience about hitting other people. Then Enter The Matrix, while it valiantly attempted to be true to the movie’s themes, failed to deliver a game that was enjoyable to play.

Still, there are a number of movie-based games that I regularly recommend to families. Tangled on the Wii offers a great video game version of the film story. It can be enjoyed by two players via a split-screen mode that lets each one progress at their own pace, making it ideal for families with children of different ages. Other titles offer a similar experience across other gaming platforms – Brave and Rise Of The Guardians on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, for example.

Another movie tie-in that has been a success for family gamers is the Cars 2 iPad app. This uses a physical toy car that’s placed on the screen of a tablet computer to control the in-game vehicle. By purchasing different toys the player can access different characters in the game and go on quests and adventures. This has the added benefit for the retailer of combining the toy and video game lines. It’s an approach that is shared by Skylanders, which uses collectable toy figures to grant access to in-game characters.

For families, these games offer a new way to play together and some interesting real-world/virtual-world crossover, but there’s also the potential to spend a lot of money. Provided parents know that you don’t need all the figures to complete Skylanders, things usually stay the right side of obsessive collecting.

New game Disney Infinity is particularly interesting here. It combines Skylanders-style toy figures with Disney and Pixar movie tie-in franchises. The game, which was announced at a glitzy Hollywood event this month and is due for release on 28 June, offers a series of collectable Disney figures in a variety of playsets. Each set provides a different Disney story to play through with the related characters.

As in Skylanders, you access both levels and characters in the game by placing the physical objects on a USB peripheral (the Infinity Base). The game then saves progress back to the toy figure. Unlike Skylanders, though, there’s another physical element to Disney Infinity: plastic upgrade tokens are purchased in foil packs (like the collectable Lego Minifigures) and grant characters special attacks and abilities in the game. This increases the potential to spend a lot of money, something that many headlines make clear, but provided as a parent you show some restraint, this can be a long-term investment. You don’t have to buy everything at once, so the extras can be added to present lists or bought with pocket money over time. These games aren’t cheap, but it’s up to you – not your children – whether you buy them, and you can use the investment to help teach your children about the value of money. You can have this, but you can’t have that…

Disney Infinity comes as a Starter Pack for about £64.99, which includes three figures and three play-set adventures: The Incredibles, Monsters and Pirates Of The Caribbean. Additional figures are £12.99 and upgrade tokens seem to be about £4.99 for two, although that price is still to be confirmed.

It will be interesting to see how well the Disney brand of ready-made stories does against Skylanders, which has written its own script. However the game pans out – and we haven’t played it yet – it still underlines how important stories and characters are to families – if your wallet can stretch to it.

If you want further details on the game, you can watch more about the launch here.



Disney’s latest game: a blockbuster at a big-budget price was posted on 24th January, 2013 by Andy Robertson under Featured, Yano Life

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Andy Robertson

About the author: Andy Robertson

Andy Robertson is a technology critic and video game expert who specialises in family gaming. He edits the GeekDad blog for Wired, writes for national newspapers, including The Independent and The Guardian, is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, and appears on BBC TV and BBC Radio as a gaming critic. He also produces the Family Gamer TV YouTube channel and edits his own family gaming site. You can follow Andy on Twitter @GeekDadGamer.
  • dofuss

    I have been interested in the prospect of Disney Infinity since I first saw videos for it on Youtube. Certainly Skylanders was something of an eye opener for just how good – and expensive – this kind of game can be, but Disney seems to be taking it a lot further. Twelve pounds for an unknown, foil wrapped, character seems a little outside reasonable pocket money range. Unless lots of kids are buying and there is the ability to exchange them, this quickly starts to look even more pricy than the Skylanders, which at least allow kids to buy the characters they want.
    Still I hope to be proven wrong, certainly the prospect of being Mr Incredible beating up Cruella De’Ville is appealing, as are future editions with the possibility of Star Wars and Marvel.

  • http://twitter.com/epredator Ian Hughes/epredator

    Skylanders has been a very popular game. Clearly blending physical play with virtual play makes a lot of sense. Whilst much of this can be seen as marketing that is grabbing more cash for downloadable content it does also increase the range of play potential. Kids do still love toys and physical play. Having collectible figures that fit with the stories and films they have seen has been popular since the dawn of kids TV. Who didn’t have a sooty glove puppet? You watched the show then had the toy to make your own stories. Now kids have the option of an exciting digital experience, either to play the directed story or make up their own (where there is toybox/free roam) narratives. So I am glad Disney is diving into this. maybe it will show Lego the way. The Lego games like batman and pirates of the caribbean are great, and the kids play with their batman lego with a reference back to the game and vice versa. There is no technical link though unlike with skylanders and infinity.
    One final thought, as I have been clearing the loft for a house move. I have lots of my old toys , each has its own special memory and stories that I still remember. Stacking up the game discs and cartridges there is a little less engagement, and for pure digital things on a hard drive somewhere no memories. So physical mixed with digital is the answer. Which will of course increase with 3d printing :)

  • http://www.gamepeople.co.uk/markclapham.htm Story Gamer

    I think most parents see the Disney logo as little more than a warning that their wallets/purses are going to get seriously raided, so the high price won’t be too much of a shock in the grand scheme of things.

  • http://www.twitter.com/wideawakewesley Wesley Williams

    With a 3rd Skylanders game to be announced in a couple of weeks and more figures to come alongside the release of that, I’m not sure I’ll be able to afford Disney Infinity for my kids, but I’m definitely interested. The benefit of the design means that it feels less like something we have to own every character from. Obviously in Skylanders you didn’t need to either, but I think the varied properties being used in Disney Infinity make it feel less like one collection of characters, even with the consistent art style. So if we do pick it up, we’ll probably just get the playsets/characters that look the most fun.

    In regards to pricing, we’ve already seen shops like Toys R Us hiking prices of Skylanders with the Giants release. While the quality of the figures may have improved, some of the price gouging is abhorrent. Disney will usually charge a premium because of their branding, but trying to justify £12.99 for a single figure (if comparable in size to a Skylander) is excessive unless each figure unlocks a new playset. I’m not quite clear on how that works yet.

  • http://www.geek-speak.co.uk/ Chris H

    I think, in a straight fight between the two, I would be more likely to go for Disney than Skylanders. I know my son would love these.

    Actually, he would love either Disney or Skylanders… it’s probably more my being more familiar with Disney that would make me make that decision.