Disney Exits Gaming Industry

Disney stop making video games

Disney announced today that it is officially leaving the gaming industry and closing its internal game studios (Avalanche) in favor of pursuing strictly licensed deals. This means that Disney Infinity has officially been discontinued, although they did announce Through the Looking Glass and Finding Dory expansions will still be released.

“After a thorough evaluation, we have modified our approach to console gaming and will transition exclusively to a licensing model. This shift in strategy means we will cease production of Disney Infinity, where the lack of growth in the toys-to-life market, coupled with high development costs, has created a challenging business model.  This means that we will be shutting down Avalanche, our internal studio that developed the game.  This was a difficult decision that we did not take lightly given the quality of Disney Infinity and its many passionate fans.”

For someone like myself who not only enjoys these types of games but also follows the industry closely, I find the most interesting and poignant statements to be those made around the growth of the toys-to-life market. Disney Infinity was enormously popular and made tons of money. It beat out Skylanders and Lego Dimensions last year (thanks to Star Wars) and it wasn’t even close. I’m a little shocked to see isn’t growing. Disney Infinity itself is responsible for immense growth, but perhaps they aren’t happy being the trailblazers. I imagine Activision enjoyed increased sales as a result of the increased awareness for toys-to-life games. Last I checked, Skylanders, Amiibo, and Lego were doing quite well.

While disappointing, a small part of me is relieved. Disney Infinity was expensive. I mean really, really expensive. Way fun, but coming in at $12+ a figure, $30+ a playset, and a $60 game was rough. I bought it all on my own (no review copies, thanks Disney) and enjoyed it, but simply couldn’t keep up. I had to let Lego Dimensions go until I received it as a gift, and Skylanders I only bought a few pieces.

You can get a lot of the sets and figures pretty cheap on Amazon now, and I imagine they’ll continue to drop in price. Now’s the time to even grab Disney Infinity 2.0 for the really good Guardians of the Galaxy stuff. They’re all worth playing.


Thankfully, lots of studios utilize Disney’s IPs successfully. Sadly, Marvel has all but gone mobile, though, and Star Wars is currently stuck in EA’s clutches (Battlefront 2 is launching next year. Like really? We need another one?). Kingdom Hearts 3 is coming soon, though!

  • We sure as hell need a Battlefront 2 more than we need a Disney Infinity 4.0!
    Imo that is ofc, because guess what, there are more options on games out there than one and some of us enjoy games like Battlefront…

  • It’s hard to imagine that, when a development meeting took place for a new Disney Infinity product, the marketeers were envisioning an end-point consumer that looked anything much like Keen or Graev. In the bookshop where I work we didn’t sell any of Disney’s “toys-to-life” products but we did, for a while, sell Skylanders and we sell a lot of Lego products of all kinds.

    Even though we are also a bit of a geek hangout, running official MTG events and the like, I have never once seen anyone over the age of maybe twelve or thirteen buy a “toy-to-life” product. The market appeared to be mainly 6-9 year old boys and those price points are punishing for parents in a collectable game. If you struggled to keep up as an independent adult with a good job imagine what the parents would have been thinking.

  • This is pretty shocking to me, honestly – I thought Infinity was doing gangbusters for them, more than enough to continue the existence of the studio. My household has no shortage of requests to play ‘Tah Wahs’ (Star Wars) and my two year old isn’t talking about Battlefront when he says that. My 9 year old also enjoys Infinity a great deal and is a regular in his lineup of games to play. Hell, I’ve even dabbled a few times, as they really are pretty good (if simple) little games.

    Again, just shocked at this, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles in the gaming industry.

  • I’ve got 2 cousins who work as coders for Avalanche, so their Facebook posts since this announcement haven’t been very happy.

    OTOH, they’re both good coders, so I’m sure they’ll both find something pretty easily.

  • Definitely sad to see good people lose jobs when they worked for really respectable studios and made great games, but simply aren’t part of the corporate vision anymore. Thankfully, skilled/good employees who work for companies like Avalanche do not stay unemployed long. Companies like Blizzard have already swooped in to pick them up.

    AS for demographics, I don’t know about that one. On one hand maybe Keen and Graev aren’t the target demographic. On the other hand, people like us certainly buy the products and champion them. Disney parks are another interesting example. Disneyland is full of mostly adults when I go. People like my wife and I go to experience the magic. Sure, kids are a huge part of that. Kids grow up into people like me. We buy passes. We go a few times a month. So while we may not appear to be the initial core demographic, aren’t we though?

    Disney is in the business of creating memories. Memories last into adulthood where those memories became very influential in our spending habits. So from that true marketing perspective, I have to believe they know someone like me is their perfect demographic.