Disney announces Skylanders-inspired Disney Infinity, Activision “flattered”

Disney has announced Disney Infinity, a multi-platform Skylanders-style project that will combine collectable figures from Disney and Pixar’s most popular series with character-specific game worlds known as Play Sets.

Infinity will initially launch with 17 character figures that can be placed on the Disney Infinity base, each activating story-driven adventures in Play Sets themed around properties such as Monsters University, Pirates Of The Caribbean and The Incredibles. Each will, of course, throw obstacles, puzzles and enemies in the player’s path.

You’re not limited to your figure’s character, however, as each adventure will include collectable characters, vehicles, upgrades and gadgets that can be saved to a virtual toy box. Players can then use these pieces to create their own adventures featuring any combination of characters, environments and items in what’s described as a “vast open world”, setting their own rules.

As well as the figures, there will also be three Play Set pieces at launch, which add new environments to the toy box, and 20 power discs that can be placed on the Infinity base to enhance environments, power-up characters and add gadgets.

The ambitious game is set for release this summer across all major console formats, PC, online and mobile devices, and supports two-player co-op in Play Sets and four-player action when in Toy Box mode. The game is being developed by Avalanche Software (not to be confused with the Just Cause developer Avalanche Studios) which has already taken a shot at Disney-themed hub play with 2010′s thoughtfully structured Toy Story 3.

The phenomenal success of Activision’s Skylanders games has clearly not gone unnoticed by Disney – factor in sales of accessories and figures and no console or handheld game brought in more money in North America last year than Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventures, and it’s the best-selling action figure range in the US. The business model clearly works, then, and Activision will be watching Disney with great interest as it launches Skylander’s first real direct competition.

“We [are] flattered that one of the leading family entertainment companies is joining our toys to life category,” Activision’s VP of consumer marketing John Coyne told Forbes. ”We continue to focus on delivering innovative and immersive entertainment experiences to kids around the world and are pouring more creativity into our games. As a result we are well positioned to continue leading the category.”

Activision clearly has good reason to be confident about its position, but allying Skylander’s setup to Disney’s charming – and extremely well known – character roster, will likely mean Infinity will have no trouble rising from the shadow of Activision’s less recognisable dragons.

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