Disney is axing its Disney Infinity series of video games, the company has announced.
The decision, which has resulted in a $147m write-off, will involve the closure of Disney’s in-house studio, Avalanche Software, and in effect marks the entertainment giant’s withdrawal from the console gaming sector.
Originally launched in 2013, Disney Infinity was intended to compete with Activision’s billion-dollar Skylanders franchise. The company released three titles in the action adventure series, each accompanied by a range of compatible toy figures, which could be placed on a special “portal” device to interact with the game. The Infinity titles featured characters and scenes from its own classic movies as well as Marvel and Lucasfilm, companies Disney recently purchased.
Although critically acclaimed, the games have struggled to make an impact in the crowded “toys-to-life” genre, which was introduced by Skylanders, but now also includes Nintendo’s Amiibo figures and, more competitively, Lego Dimensions.
According to its recent second-quarter earnings report, Disney’s toys and interactive entertainment division saw an 8% drop in operating income for the period, due in part to lower than expected results for the game series.
In a statement provided to the press, the company said:
“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.”
The company has said it will support the current title in the series, Disney Infinity 3.0, with two forthcoming downloadable content packs, but will not be making any new games. Instead, it is likely to license out properties like Star Wars and Marvel to other game publishers. It will continue to develop new titles in the smartphone gaming sector.
Disney has had a troubled presence in the console games business for a number of years. In 2014, it was reported that the company’s interactive division had been losing $200m a year between 2008 and 2012. The company shut down several studios and laid off 700 staff members.
While the “toys-to-life” genre has been a huge success in the difficult family gaming sector, Activision built up a commanding lead with Skylanders, and Lego Dimensions successfully expanded on the bestselling Lego action adventure titles that have sold over 140m units worldwide.
Disney’s support for Infinity will end after the release of Alice Through the Looking Glass and Finding Dory sets later this year.
This article was written by Keith Stuart, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 10th May 2016 23.57 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010