Disney Infinity: 49% Marketing Ploy, 51% Fun

From the moment we saw the video online we have been saving our allowance in anticipation of the release of Disney Infinity.  For anyone that has not been at my house for the past few weeks, and thus may not know what Disney Infinity is, I will explain it to you.  Disney Infinity is a video game that comes with a platform.  You plug the platform into your system and then, by placing various real-life figurines onto it, you cause the character to appear in the game so you can play with them.  So you can stick Mr. Incredible on there and have him run around, while the second player puts Captain Jack Sparrow on and then they can interact.  But you get tired of being Mr. Incredible, so you take him off of the platform and stick Lightening McQueen on there and suddenly the superhero on the screen disappears and is replaced by a red race car.

Now, in many ways this is the coolest idea ever.  But then when you think about it, it is terrible.  What if, to play Super Mario Brothers, you had to purchase Luigi?  What if every time you played a video game you had to purchase each character individually?  Why, that would be insane, and the video game companies would be making crazy amounts of extra money hand over fist.  But on the other hand, there is something so, so….., so fun about the physical act of holding a toy in your hand and moving it into the game yourself.  And we end up with a cool collection of Disney/Pixar figurines too.  Maybe it’s worth it after all.

Now, the game, which retails for $75, comes with three characters, but there are nine others that you can buy for about $13-$14 each, plus two additional “playsets” with two characters each.  The way the game is set up is that you have “playsets” and the “toybox.”  The playsets are basically just normalish video games, and only the appropriate characters can go in them.  Mike Wazowski cannot go to the Incredibles playset, only the Monsters one.  And without putting the playset toy onto the platform, you cannot go there.  So if I want to send my cars to Radiator Springs, I have to buy the Cars playset.  As you can imagine, this can get expensive after a while.

But man, the toybox is so fun!  You can build entire worlds with building blocks and set pieces and all sorts of other fun things that you can unlock…in the playsets that you have to buy.  But even outside of that there are plenty of fun things to build with.  You can add Pride Rock, from the Lion King.  Or Scrooge’s Money Bin.  Or the giant golf ball from Epcot Center.  This thing is a Disneyphile’s dream come true.  And your characters can build and explore, while randomly running into advertisements for more Disney Infinity products.

Yeah, that’s right.  Scattered around the toybox, and the playsets, are special boxes you can “unlock” by having the right character interact with them.  And if you don’t have that character?  It will show you a short video about why you should buy it instead.  And of course in each playset there is a big vault with all of the best goodies for toybox building fun, which can only be unlocked once you have every single character for that playset.  Want the Incredibles vault to open?  Then you must purchase four extra figures.  And I haven’t even told you about the power discs yet.

In additional to the characters and playsets that you can put onto the platform, there are also power discs that either give your character special powers, or a cool item.  And these are sold separately in blind packs of two, so you never know which two you will get.  We have purchased four of these packs so far (at $5 each) and have, out of the 8 discs, 3 duplicates.  Because some of them are “rare” don’t you know.  Are they not getting enough of our money already?!

So this is a warning to you.  This game is a very well calculated way to get the most money out of you as is corporately possible.  There is a whole area in the game called the “Hall of Heroes” that is one giant commercial cleverly disguised as a trophy room.  But I have to tell you, it is a lot of fun too.  We have spent, well, way too many hours playing it since we picked it up.  The six year old likes it for the missions, and the building in the toybox.  The three year old likes it because you really can’t die in toybox mode, so he spends most of his time driving Mater off of cliffs and cackling hysterically.  And I like it because, well, it’s just cool.  And fun.  I love collecting, so this is like crack cocaine to me.

It was a very close call as to whether this was more expensive than fun, or more fun than expensive, but in the end I chose, with a victory of 51% to 49%, fun.  But that is plus or minus 3% to account for sampling error, so your individual opinions may vary.

Posted in Children, Disney, Money, Video Games.

One Comment

  1. Oh my … isn’t this close to the game (something mountainous, I believe) that Disney just purchased? I know my nephews play with something on their DS that has a toy component like this. I’m guessing that’s why they purchased the company..anywhoo…we are just beginning our video game days and I believe it will all be downhill (or uphill, according to my husband) from here 😉

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