Disney Infinity cancelled and Avalanche Software closed as the media giant pulls out of game development | PCGamesN

Disney Infinity cancelled and Avalanche Software closed as the media giant pulls out of game development

Disney Infinity

While Disney might be making waves in the movie world, pulling back characters like Spider-Man from the likes of Sony for big-screen homecomings, it seems the media giant is going the other way when it comes to games, pulling out of development and instead focusing on licensing out IP.

Today Disney cancelled their toys-to-life gaming franchise Disney Infinity, closing the game's development studio, Avalanche Software (not to be confused with Just Cause developer Avalanche Studios), in the process. The closure of Avalanche Software marks the loss of around 300 jobs.

Disney Infinity was a sprawling mixture of all of Disney's properties, marketed at children with physical toys that could be transported into the game, much like Activision's Skylanders series. Disney say the series has been under-performing.

"After a thorough evaluation, we have modified our approach to console gaming and will transition exclusively to a licensing model," a Disney spokesperson told VentureBeat. "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.”

Senior vice president and general manager of the Infinity franchise John Blackburn explained that Disney Infinity will be wrapping up with two more retail releases before disappearing forever. 

"We have two final retail releases coming, including three new characters from Alice Through the Looking Glass later this month, and the Finding Dory Play Set launching in June," said Blackburn.

"And as we turn to the next chapter in our story, I want to thank everyone who helped bring Disney Infinity to life, particularly Disney’s Glendale-based production and publishing teams, our external development partners, and of course the incredible Avalanche team for their tireless dedication to this project."

Disney will now focus their videogame efforts on mobile releases and handing out licenses for their IP to other studios. Titanfall developers Respawn Entertainment recently announced they were working on a third-person action game in the Star Wars universe, so expect more announcements like that in the future.

It seems like the way to go if EA's success with Star Wars Battlefront is an indicator. The company announced tonight in a financial report that the Star Wars FPS sold over 14 million units in fiscal year 2016.

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AnAuldWolf avatar
AnAuldWolf Avatar
1 Year ago

This is typical of Iger era Disney. Zootropolis (Zootopia) is the closest thing they've done to something even slightly clever since the Eisner era. They've been buying and selling, trying to absorb as many IPs as they can, and bleeding creative talent all over the mat whilst trying desperately to make money hand-over-fist.

There was a period called the 'Disney Renaissance' that began around the mid '80s and ended in 1999. This is a thing you can look up, it's commonly called that. It was the high point of the studio's history. Under Eisner, Disney shone like a diamond. They weren't making enough money to make greedy people happy, though, so Eisner was given the boot and they brought in Iger in 2000.

Disney has been broken ever since. Considering the execution of Disney Infinity, I don't think it ever should have happened in the first place. There was (and is) so much wrong with its execution on so many levels. It was just a cheap cash-in on the Skylanders bandwagon, which flopped. WB also made a grab for that with LEGO Dimensions which, as you may have guessed, also flopped. They don't seem to understand what made Skylanders good in the first place. In fact, WB still doesn't understand that the thing that would make them relevant again is bringing back their animation studios. (The DCAU, Young justice, et al. WB animated films are still amazing.)

I'm not saying that Disney Infinity should never have happened, but they should've looked more at what kids actually want, rather than how they believe they can best exploit kids for money. I'm sick and tired of the latter, I see that over mobile marketplaces all the time, too. The thing is? Kids are wising up to it, so that industry is failing. Hence the Disney Infinity flop.

I can be partial to playing a game aimed at kids, and so sometimes I do, but then I can also see how bad of a game it is and how it's just exploitation with fancy, jingly bells on. Back in the '90s and '00s, there were plenty of games made for kids. In fact, gaming was commonly seen as something for nerdy kids, wasn't it? Clash of Clans has nothing on Day of the Tentacle.

I don't mean to sound like a grumpy old man, but I have trouble seeing past all the rampant, gross exploitation, sometimes. If you're going to try and make money like that, then you could at least build value into it so it isn't a blatant rip-off. That's what Skylanders did, that's why it succeeded. It was by Toys for Bob, the Star Control II people, it was a very genuine affair. There was money made, yes, but it wasn't all born of exploitation. Toys for Bob wanted to make something fun for kids. Disney Infinity was a cynical money grab. And here we are again, it shows, and that's why it flopped.

Kids aren't stupid.

And I bloody miss the Disney Renaissance.

That's all.