Let me start by saying that I myself am a big Disney fan. The fact that they took over Star Wars? Doesn’t bother me. I saw Toy Story in high school and decided I was going to be an animator. (I didn’t become one, but I did take design and animation in a special program only open to a few of us in school so it did still inspire me.) I’ve loved Belle from Beauty and the Beast since I was little and I can remember Ursula from The Little Mermaid terrifying me since I first saw her inky blackness cover the screen in the movie theater when I was a little girl.
That said, Disney has a serious issue going on. Possibly they have more than one serious issue, but this is the one I’m focused on for the purpose of this article. I have two six year olds in the house, a boy and a girl. I also have a three year old boy. They all thoroughly enjoy Disney and their products and movies, as do my Anchor and I. A few years ago my son became interested in Skylanders video games. I looked at the price of what we’d be spending to get invested in this game and I thought there was no way we’d have enough money to be able to do that. Then my ex husband and I picked up a starter pack and it was actually pretty reasonable, provided the kids weren’t playing constantly (the action figures will eventually “die” in the game and need a few hours to “recharge” before you can use them again).
As we got involved in the world of Skylanders, I started to get really excited about how far gaming had come since my day. I’m thirty-three years old. That means Sega and Nintendo were “the deal” when I was young. Playing Duck Hunt was mind-blowing and beating the levels in Mario was the definitive test of your skills. To have a game where you could buy action figures and watch them come to life on screen was incredible to me.
Then Disney decided they wanted in on this little venture. They came out with Disney Infinity. I was psyched. I figured we’d completely give up on Skylanders as we all played Infinity as a family, mixing Captain Jack Sparrow up in Frozen’s world while he teams up with Elsa. But that was not to be.
We rushed out and bought Disney Infinity 1.0. We got home and the kids were so excited to play it. We had several characters to begin with, bought for my son’s birthday, and my Anchor and I couldn’t wait to have his kids and my son play it with us. We quickly discovered Disney had not taken the lead of Skylanders in their design at all.
The only place characters could mix together was in the toy box, the main world. While that’s fun, it does get old for kids who are actual gamers and want to play new and different adventures. We also discovered you had to buy specific worlds for the characters to play in. You want to be Elsa or Anna? You’d better buy the Frozen world for them. But wait, only the characters are available! The world won’t be out for another month or so.
And thus began our disdain of Disney Infinity.
Then they came out with new characters. Exciting, right?? Except…. you needed to buy Disney Infinity 2.0 in order to play with any of the Avengers. That’s okay, though, right? Because surely you can mix and match characters from 1.0 and at least play with them all in the toy box world? No. You cannot.
Then Disney released 3.0 and I completely gave up hope of ever catching up or getting the right systems to play this. Meanwhile Skylanders is on their fifth incarnation of their game and ALL the action figures, right from their very first game of Spyro’s Adventure up to current, are all interchangeable. Yep, you can play them on any game platform, even the newest game Superchargers.
While I understand the need to make a profit, I think the Skylanders’ model has still done an excellent job of that while still remaining very user friendly, and most importantly kid and budget friendly. Given a choice between the two, Skylanders still holds my vote. If they keep running their business as they have been currently, it’s safe to say they will have it for a very long time. While Disney tries to catch up.