This time of the year, its normal to reflect on the year that has gone by, 2013 was an interesting year for one big reason, the launch of Disney Infinity which is without doubt one of the biggest projects Disney have embarked on.
Disney’s video game department has had a very checkered past, big losses and big flops dominated for years, the hey day of great Disney video games like Duck Tales, Castle of Illusion etc were long gone. So Disney decided to take a risk and that risk looks to have paid off, Infinity has been extremely popular, with over a million start packs sold worldwide before Thanksgiving and with all the holiday purchases, I’m sure that number will continue to rise. Infinity has already put a dent into the pockets of its rival Skylanders and I’m sure this will continue as the Infinity brand continues to grow. Infinity isn’t a flash in the pan idea, Disney have big plans for this project and all those mistakes will be ironed out eventually.
Infinity is set to become Disney’s main video game franchise with yearly updates, constant releases of new power discs, figures and play sets. Infinity appeals to so many different people and it certainly has hooked in most of the VK team, which is why you have seen so much Infinity coverage on Vinylmation Kingdom.
But with all the success of Disney Infinity in 2013, there have been a few “issues” that I wanted to share my thoughts on.
First off, while Disney Infinity has a strong social media presence and announce loads of news via their website and every other platform, they get the need to spread the word, engage with their audience and generally they seem to do a great job in promoting their product. But they have failed on giving some major details out, especially when it comes to the “Exclusives”. Obviously in the US, Toys R Us have had all the exclusives but every single release of a new crystal figure or power disc has just seen a scramble for information. Collectors have been driving around, hunting for the latest release and generally its been a huge mess. I don’t think the packaging of the US Power Discs helped which they fixed for the European release, where we had an image of the exclusive disc on the packaging, I assume this will be fixed for future releases. Official information coming out about anything “exclusive” has been very poor.
And over here in the UK and other European countries, it hasn’t been much better. In the UK, different stores had different exclusives, it seemed like every major store in the UK had a power disc and a crystal figure, but until they went on sale, we never knew where it would be. Lightening McQueen was released in the UK over 3 months after the US, which meant most collectors had already imported it since no official word was given that we would get them. Then we managed to get Lone Ranger and Captain Jack Sparrow before the Americans. Communication has been dreadful, as the only response you’d get from Disney was that it was down to the individual retailers to spread the word.
When Infinity launched, many of the UK stores had the full range and a big display in many of the stores I went into. Over the few months after launch, those display boxes slowly thinned out and the while the launch of the Toy Story play set and Woody seemed to go off without a hitch, the second wave of figures and power discs was handled very badly by stores, some put things out early while other stores never even got the items in. I lost track of the amount of stores I went into over was insane as staff members looked at me like I was crazy when I was asking for items. While the initial launch went smoothly, the follow up releases just didn’t seem to be as well organised however some online stores did seem to have a slightly better grasp on things.
I’m very happy that the UK was able to get most new releases within days of the US, as in today’s social media world, releasing things months later just isn’t good enough. In the days before the internet, release dates have to be closer together and thankfully other than the Lightening Crystal figure, that was a good move by Disney. However, there was a few noticeable missing items such as the Frozen and Wreck it Ralph Toy Packs which never got released in the UK. Nor was the Target Power Disc 2 album which had all the power discs from the second series in one handy pack, I know I would have jumped at the idea of buying that, had it been released in the UK.
Originally at launch, Disney Infinity was very expensive in the UK, with almost everything costing over a third more than in the US and that was before all the big promotions took hold. Disney went on a very strong promotional push for the launch with discounted play sets and figures, however eventually prices started to dip in the UK as Christmas got closer and the price of some of the Crystal/exclusive discs often left a lot to be desired with Amazon trying to charge nearly £6 ($10) for a Lilo/Stitch Surfboard power disc and nearly £16 ($25) for Captain Jack Sparrow Crystal before eventually reducing the price.
Possibly the biggest bug of mine was the power discs, its been a well known problem of people “cheating” to find power discs and it became very noticeable with series 2 as so few stores had the blind bags out, that when I did manage to come across a box, there was opened packets and people on ebay selling numerous amounts of rare discs.
These are little issues that aren’t massive but they are silly little problems that should be fixed, not every Infinity player is checking out websites, forums and groups for information.
Disney Infinity had an amazing year in 2013 for the launch year, there were little mistakes that I hope they are able to iron out why they happened and fix them for later releases.
How do you think Disney Infinity went down in 2013?