Anyone who actively plays or follows Toys-to-Life games probably knows that the genre saw its first casualty this year: Disney Infinity. Disney Infinity was Disney and Avalanche Software's wildly popular take on the genre and enabled players to assume the roles of popular Disney-owned characters, such as Mickey Mouse, Captain America, Luke Skywalker, Buzz Lightyear, and Dory, in either Play Sets and expansion packs centered around specific movies or in the expansive Toy Box mode to create their own worlds with set-pieces and objects based on Disney media. I myself am a really big fan, and my sister and I have been playing Infinity since the beginning of this year. I really like to play as Sadness, Woody, Phineas, Stitch, and Baloo in particular.
Sadly, despite being a billion dollar franchise and arguably being at the top of its game with the game's third edition with more seemingly sure to come, Disney decided to end the series this summer. Dory and Nemo from Pixar's Finding Nemo series, and a Play Set game mode based on the latest installment of the series Finding Dory, are so far the last characters and content added to the game. With it came a great disturbance in the Toys-to-Life fandom, as if a million Disney fans suddenly cried out in disappointment. Many figures and Play Sets that were to come to the game soon wound up going unfinished or unreleased, including figures of Doctor Strange, Peter Pan, Goofy, and Moana.
In the wake of the cancellation, fans desperate to keep the series alive have taken to creating petitions and Twitter hashtags to make noise in an effort to make Disney and other companies notice the demand for Infinity. One petition in particular, started by an Infinity fan from the Netherlands named Tim Wanders, has reached nearly 13,000 supporters since its inception. As far as online petitions go, that's pretty impressive.
In the wake of all of this, it seems that one company has taken notice of the Save Disney Infinity campaigns: Warner Brothers Interactive, co-creator of fellow Toys-to-Life series LEGO Dimensions.
Debuting last fall, LEGO Dimensions is part LEGO game, part "Warner Bros. Infinity", so to speak. Characters from many different franchises, such as LEGO's own IPs, DC Comics, Scooby Doo, Doctor Who, Lord of the Rings, and even The Simpsons all meet up and team up to save the LEGO multi-universe from destruction. Recently, LEGO and Warner Brothers announced the next wave of characters for the series, which includes the likes of characters from Harry Potter, Adventure Time, Teen Titans Go!, E.T., and even Sonic the Hedgehog.
So what does this have to do with Disney Infinity and how the late great franchise could see the light of day again? Polygon's Brian Crecente recently interviewed with Warner Brothers Interactive and asked about the possibility of them acquiring any of Disney's IPs to use in LEGO Dimensions. (You can read Brian's article here.) He points out that WBI themselves called it "a great idea", always looking to expand their roster of characters. It helps that they have collaborated with Disney on other things before, such as LEGO Marvel and LEGO Star Wars games.
Since first hearing the rumors, I've thought about the idea of a collaboration with Disney and WB over these two series. I've thought of some pros and cons about the idea of such a collaboration:
PRO: Disney characters would be playable in a crossover video game again
One of the main draws to Disney Infinity was being able to play as characters from both Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars and have them interact with each other, something that was highlighted about the series since day one.
If WBI did add all of these characters to LEGO Dimensions, not only would the Mouse House crew be back together again, but they would also have a new cast of characters to interact with. Marvel heroes such as Iron Man and Captain America would be able to meet Batman and Superman, making it one of the few times they have officially done so. Mickey Mouse and Stitch could join Finn and Jake on a trip through Hogwarts. You could even have Aladdin steal Homer Simpson's doughnuts. Additionally, having four major Disney companies to work with could make for a ton of potential level packs, with everyone able to journey through them together.
CON: Would this mean Infinity would be gone for good?
Now I have nothing against Disney IPs being in LEGO Dimensions. Don't get me wrong. However, the Infinity fan in me worries about what this could mean for Disney Infinity potentially returning in the future.
I've been around the Infinity fanbase long enough to know that many of them would likely not be happy to see this collaboration come to fruition. Part of the fun was collecting the figures, many of which looked amazing by the time Disney Infinity 3.0 was in full swing. Collecting LEGO mini-figure versions of the Disney characters would likely not be the same as collecting the Infinity versions of the characters, with the possible exception of the Marvel and Star Wars ones. Heck, I would be more excited about the prospect of Disney IPs in Dimensions if Infinity were continuing production along with it.
But there's also one other reason why Dimensions possibly being indirectly responsible for Infinity's demise would be a problem: the Toy Box mode.
While the figures and characters were an important part of Infinity, the Toy Box mode was one of the series' biggest selling points. Within the Toy Box, players could create their own gaming experiences with a variety of genres, such as platforming, racing, and many others, and then share them with others over the internet. There were a variety of set pieces and level terrain to use. The terrain and sky could be changed however the player saw fit, either in-game or with certain Power Discs one could also collect.
My concern is that we may never see such an amazing game mode like this again if Disney's IPs are licensed over to Dimensions, as Dimensions' main draw is the story modes and level packs that you can get with the game and not a sandbox mode like the Toy Box. With no room for a sandbox mode like the Toy Box, it could become nothing but a memory. All of the past and on-going hard work put into making incredible games and settings with the game mode would go to waste. There is just too much potential with the Toy Box mode to leave it behind, and I know people want to see it and Infinity as a whole continue on.
Surely both Disney and WB are aware of the popularity of the Toy Box and Infinity, so the question is: Could it be possible to still salvage Disney Infinity even with the Disney-owned characters possibly appearing in Dimensions?
Perhaps Disney and WB could create a crossover between the two games while also adding the Disney characters to Dimensions. Disney and Warner Brothers Interactive (plus folks from Avalanche Software they could hire back) could collaborate for a new version of Disney Infinity, with hybrid figures made for it, much like how Nintendo and Activision made hybrid amiibo/Skylander figures when Nintendo characters Bowser and Donkey Kong were added to Skylanders. Or they could make new Infinity figures and package a LEGO version of the character (with corresponding LEGO vehicles and items) with the Infinity character to use in Dimensions.
WBI could continue work on the Toy Box mode (perhaps while being overseen by people from Avalanche Software who originally created the mode) so those who love to make activities in the Toy Box could do so once again. Heck, maybe they could even have some of the Dimensions characters and content cross over into Infinity as Infinity versions of themselves. (The LEGO IP characters such as Wyldstyle and Emmet would still look like LEGO mini-figures if it were up to me.)
I hope Disney and Warner Brothers see the potential for bringing Disney Infinity and the Toy Box back with this rumored collaboration. There is a lot of untapped potential with Infinity and the Toy Box that have yet to be explored, and loads of content that could still be made with it, both the stuff we know about (such as the Peter Pan and Moana content that was coming) and the stuff we don't know about yet. There is no possible way that Disney and WB aren't aware of the noise the Infinity fanbase is making.
Many people want Infinity to come back, and this rumored collaboration may not be the come-back they want unless Infinity, the figures, and the Toy Box made their triumphant return along with it. I believe the possible collaboration between Warner Brothers Interactive and Disney has the potential to do just that if they just realize and listen to the demand for Infinity's return.