We all retain parts of childhood that are reignited at certain points in our adulthood. For me, I think my love of video games stems directly from that piece of my childhood that lies, partially dormant, somewhere in my head. I’m not talking about just any video games, though—I’m talking about games that a lot of people might think a 20-year-old wouldn’t be playing. Ever heard of Kingdom Hearts, the epic Final Fantasy and Disney mash-up? I’m currently going through my second play-through in my dorm. I can’t get enough. That is, until I get swamped with work for two weeks and can’t pick it up. That’s when the real world wins.
Back to my point. When I heard Disney had created a sandbox video game that pulled characters from virtually every corner of the Disney universe (including Disney’s recently acquired Star Wars and Marvel universes), I was hesitantly hooked. Did I want to build my own racetrack through Andy’s room from Toy Story and drive around as Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc.? You bet. Would I be mortified if anyone ever saw me doing it? Yep, kind of. With this in mind, I let the game go for a few years.
Each year, however, Disney released new versions of Disney Infinity rife with new missions, iconic places to build whatever you wanted, and more characters to buy. I should note that to play as whatever character you want, you need to buy a little figurine of the character at a video game store. You put these little figurines on a pad that comes with the game, and they appear in the game—fascinating what technology can do these days. Anyways, once Disney started integrating Star Wars into the mix, I was really itching to get in on the fun. The game had actually gotten good reviews from IGN and Gamespot, and if those 30-something-year-old men could play Disney Infinity, why couldn’t I? I decided I’d go check it out at Target, ready to explain to the clerk that I was getting it for a little cousin.
When I got to Target, I finally saw why Disney was pushing so hard for people to buy Disney Infinity. A starter pack for the game costs $80. Subsequent missions and character figurines can range anywhere from $15-35 each. Let me quickly repeat that. It costs $15 to play as Buzz Lightyear in a video game. There are 117 Disney characters you can buy for this game, and to play as just one, it costs $15. I might be a bit childish in my game selection and general demeanor, but there is no way in hell I would ever spend nearly the amount of money that Disney expects from me just to get a few characters and missions in Disney Infinity.
Later, it dawned on me just how brilliant Disney is to sell the game like this. With a beautiful color palette and stylized renditions of most, if not all of Disney’s most famous characters, kids must be dragging their parents to Best Buy and Gamestop to get the Barbossa figurine or the Pirates of the Caribbean mission pack. With 117 figurines and a variety of mission and location packs, Disney has to be swimming in all the cash its raking in from this game.
It’s not the only one to learn from this new formula. LEGO recently released its own version of the Disney Infinity world with Lego Dimensions. It’s practically the same concept, except LEGO takes advantage of the movie and television brands it has acquired over the years, pulling together a collection of characters ranging from Bart Simpson to Legolas. Lego Dimensions is, notably, sold at about the same prices as Disney Infinity.
This is a dangerous and slippery slope we’re staring down as gamers. In a video game world where the effects and pervasiveness of downloadable content are constantly growing, it’s terrifying to see this formula that Disney Infinity and Lego Dimensions have quickly and efficiently mastered come to life. Sell the game, then sell individual missions, then sell individual characters. Sure, it’s cool to see a type of game that is constantly being updated with new content, but Disney set the standard with how these types of games can be sold, and the prices are excruciating. I would not want to be a parent with a video game-addicted kid right now. I have to acknowledge, on the other hand, that that terrible gene is in me and that one day it could very well be passed down to my son or daughter. By that time, lord only knows how the Disney Infinity formula will have evolved.
Featured Image By Disney Interactive Studios