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The Walt Disney Co. has been loudly trumpeting loudly its Disney Infinity toy-game hybrid products, which debut on the game consoles Aug. 18. But in a surprise move, Infinity will have a presence on the iPad, too. Disney revealed today that it has created two mobile apps, including Disney Infinity: Toy Box, as extensions to the console toy-game hybrid experience.
Part of a big strategic move, the Disney Infinity collection of toys and video games (dubbed Play Sets) represent Disney’s big attempt at creating cross-media entertainment in both the physical retail and digital-distribution markets. The toys that come to life inside games are its unique twist on the toy-game hybrid market, and, if successful, could create a big hole in Activision’s $1 billion Skylanders toy-game business. With a mobile app, Disney could have a differentiator, since Activision hasn’t announced any mobile apps (or cross-platform mobile-console apps in particular) since it launched its first Skylanders games on iOS last year.
Besides the Toy Box app, Disney is also launching an iOS app dubbed Disney Infinity: Action! for fans to shoot videos with their favorite cartoon characters.
The Toy Box app lets you create and edit your own game worlds using Disney props and characters in a blank slate called the Toy Box. The app works across platforms. That means you can create a world on the iPad and then view it or edit it on your game console. You can even create a world on a PlayStation 3, save it to the web-connected cloud, and then edit at a friend’s house on an Xbox 360 or your iPad.
Since building things with your fingers on a touchscreen is intuitive, creating new worlds and games within Infinity can actually be easier than doing it with a game console, said Dan Lehrich, senior producer at Disney Interactive, in an interview with GamesBeat. You can create the world from a menu-based interface and then link complex actions together. If you kick a ball into a soccer goal, for instance, you can trigger a fireworks display.
The free-to-play app will be available shortly in the Apple iTunes App Store, but Disney isn’t saying exactly when yet. It will come out later on Android. It has more than 60 free items you can use to build Toy Box creations. But if you want to get some unique characters, you’ll have to buy the Disney Infinity toys first. Once you buy the toys, you can input web codes that unlock the characters on your iPad. Any unlocked item on the console will become available in the app, and players will start out with Mr. Incredible from The Incredibles animated film for free. You can make 99 cent in-app purchases if you wish.
“You can build in the Toy Box, drag and drop things, and take editing short cuts,” Lehrich said. “It is completely reworked for multitouch screens and is very intuitive. You can build it and play in it, and free yourself from the constraints of the consoles.”
The characters in the Toy Box can interact with each other and even engage in (light-hearted) combat.
“Parents can use this on the road and stay in touch with their kids,” Lehrich said.
The app will work on the iPad 2 and later tablets and the iPad Mini.
Here’s our video interview with Lehrich.