Disney Infinity's Toughest Competitor

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Disney Infinity's Toughest Competitor

Postby goofyspaceranger » Thu Jul 07, 2016 12:55 pm

This is admittedly a sensitive post, and I would not write if there were no chance at a reboot, but I still believe there's a good chance. It's just one perspective, and many may disagree with it. It may just sit nearly invisibly on this forum. But if it increases the chance, however slightly, for the reboot to happen, then it's worthwhile.

Like many fans here, I've invested a considerable amount of money into Infinity - several thousand by now with the multiple consoles ;) - and that doesn't count the many thousands more that various grants have spent on behalf of our various venues. Before I began volunteering comp sci instruction to elementary students with Infinity, I was paid to teach mainframe assembler at a local college with curriculum that I also created (in addition to the day job). Still consider Infinity a net gain (although clearly not a financial gain ;)). Very rewarding. And in full disclosure there's the topic of infrastructure services, but that's never been a primary goal for me. I've been an IBM mainframer for over 26 years. We've seen a lot of resource actions during that time. Don't know the numbers, even if I was at liberty to disclose them (they were public back in the 90's and they were in the thousands), but have needed to say goodbye to many coworkers, many friends - friends I've known & worked with for 5 years, 10 years, 20 years. Our last one was as recent as this past May (it didn't hit mainframe development directly, but affected a friend here at the same site). Very, very difficult. For those of us who remain, every time we need to adapt - not just emotionally (the harder part), but technically, to continue supporting & developing the product. There have been several times where a piece of the official product offering is sold off because it doesn't fit with current strategy but can succeed separately. Also, there have been many times when the adaptation for the overall product has been to provide more open interfaces to gain further support from the ecosystem.

There are undoubtedly all sorts of internal details concerning Infinity's cancellation that none of us on these forums will ever know. But I believe one of the factors was that Infinity's toughest competitor was itself. With the Play Sets & the Expansion Games it was competing in the toys-to-life market in a traditional sense. The partners, especially in 3.0, tightened the combat mechanics, the driving gameplay, etc. such that Infinity earned that #1 spot from that alone. With the Toy Box, Infinity was competing as a community-supported sandbox environment, against the likes of Minecraft, Spark, LittleBigPlanet, & even Mario Maker (but you never heard about that). When you consider the scale of the Infinity's investment, from animation, to coding, & even to marketing, Infinity was at odds with itself. It absolutely needed to market the Play Sets as these stand-alone games, fed from toys-to-life figures, to compete in the traditional gaming sense. They were compelled to overshadow Toy Box creations, which were provided at no cost from the community. Implementing Toy Box interfaces were likely to be much more complex for the Infinity Team, for they needed to a handle all sorts of unforeseen combinations from players. The Play Sets had a greater requirement to be tight. These little gaps in the Toy Box function, certain quirks in the existing toys, I think, was the result of this split. The website did not directly publish official Toy Box interfaces; documentation & video tutorials grew organically from the fan base. So was it a franchise of stand-alone video game experiences, or was it a community-based sandbox to create & share your own Disney toy stories? It attempted to be both. In every single instance where I spoke to people outside this forum about Infinity since its first launch (many of whom already owned the game), none of them understood what the Toy Box can do. None of them.

This is why I think that the best chance for the reboot is for the new licenser to choose one of the two markets. They can succeed in either one, but it's to their disadvantage to try both. I am admittedly biased; I want the Toy Box to win so that I can continue expanding the corporate citizenship efforts. I see the Toy Box as middleware where the community-provided creations are the Disney Infinity Application layer that can be played cross-platform around the world. I see the Toy Box as a way to reach an enormous demographic at a time where there is increased focus on early computer science education. The resulting games & stories are so fun that most don't necessarily know the value in that. It's just so much fun. And I think the Disney Infinity Community would help provide so much additional content for free, there's much less animation, development, & marketing investment required for the Toy Box reboot - making it coincidentally the better business case, too. The entire Disney Infinity Team was needed to make the reboot possible, even if just a fraction get rehired to continue it. That's important to remember, when you get a second chance to serve & entertain millions of families around the world. 8-)

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Re: Disney Infinity's Toughest Competitor

Postby rogpalmeruk » Thu Jul 07, 2016 8:53 pm

I've been saying something similar for a while now. The playsets probably should have always stayed as licenced/seperate games, they have a larger audience and maybe had Disney got into making smaller tie in games but offer a shorter experience at a cheaper price, rather than offering full retail price games... A new game based purely on the toy box system would be a fantastic game and would focus the team on making that as good as possible, I still believe that sandbox game could work. disney tried to Do too much within one system and it was too confusing, power discs, expansion games, toy box games, playsets, this doesn't work with that, a single toy box game (be it digital characters as I think that's the only way it would work) would be great . Leave the playsets as solo game experiences
 
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Re: Disney Infinity's Toughest Competitor

Postby goofyspaceranger » Fri Jul 08, 2016 12:29 pm

Right. The other oddity about Play Sets is that the Disney Infinity Team couldn't get permission to mash different characters & themes, whereas the Toy Box could mix up everything. They were all presented as toys. The brand inadvertently placed more trust in the community than in their professional partners or the game creators themselves. In the Toy Box mode, it was clear that it was a big fantastic jumble of Disney, Pixar, Marvel & Star Wars toys - so it has always had the creative advantage. Eventually, we saw the mashup in the Takeover & Racing expansion games - and it made the virtual toy experience much better. If a new licenser opts for the Play Set route, they'd have the same restrictions. With the Toy Box, there's a lot more options for everyone.
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