Mouse House Design: A Requiem for ‘Disney Infinity’

Announced in 2013, Disney attempted to bridge the gap of their multitude of fandoms and the world of video games with one defining title: Disney Infinity.

Over three sequels, Disney Interactive looked to meld the worlds of Disney animation and live-action, Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm’s Star Wars into one cohesive gaming universe.

Following in the footsteps of the then white-hot Skylanders franchise, the game would be an entry in the toys-to-life genre – pairing excited kids wants to play the “whole game” with an infinite (heh) series of figurines, each new figure purchase unlocking new levels and playable characters within the games – while also looking pretty solid on your shelf.

They augmented the crass buy-in with Little Big Planet/Mario Maker styled level creation tools, which never seemed to really catch on, allowing players of all-ages to create their own levels to share with an online community.

On paper – it was an obvious cash cow. Video games and action figures have always done well for Disney. But apparently, they did not jump on the bandwagon soon enough, it was announced yesterday that the Disney Infinity project was being cancelled, with Disney Interactive closing its doors and Disney getting out of the console video game business entirely.

Maybe it says something about the end of the toys-to-life craze, as Disney Infinity figures have started to warm shelves alongside LEGO Dimensions and Skylanders sets.

Perhaps its a sign that cash-in games for the console world are dying off, with the industry focusing only on blockbuster, triple-A titles.

But what should be appreciated as we look back on Disney Infinity is how it did the impossible – it took disparate characters from countless popular universes, and combined them effortlessly into one beautiful, and pleasing visual style.

For me, that’s what made the game so appealing. That’s what made the figures so tempting. Each design looked wonderful, streamlining countless characters from pop-culture into one unified and clean design language.

Looking back, they really covered a bold variety of Disney properties. Sure, some made sense – like the well-timed releases of characters from The Force Awakens or The Lone Ranger – but who ever expected to see figures of Iron Fist or the cast of TRON: Legacy?

I’ve included a gallery below of some of my favorite designs. I wish I knew all the artist(s) to credit (it seems that Ian Jacobs is one of them), but as this game leaves us – it’s the look that I will remember. I hope they get amazing work somewhere else soon.