To Infinity! But not beyond 2016…

I know it’s been weeks since the announcement was first made that Disney’s toys-to-life video game series, Infinity, was to be unceremonious and seemingly abruptly canceled, and I know in internet time that’s like five years or something (depending on how you round), nevertheless, I’m going to talk about it anyway. That’s just how I do. So, yeah, I was pretty disappointed to hear Disney Interactive had decided to pull the plug on what I’d assumed was a money-making juggernaut, and then was basically heartbroken when I heard that Rogue One was to be included in upcoming releases, (yeah, that’s right, I’m a grown-ass man that plays Infinity, what of it?) meaning that yet another Rogue One-related entity was being ripped from my grasp before my grubby fingers could take hold. But, after reading about what was going on behind the scenes, it appears that the downfall of Infinity was immanent rather than surprising. Now, allow me to use my amazing powers of hindsight to nitpick about what could have been done differently to save the franchise, as well as look ahead to what doors the death of Infinity opens…

According to the previously-referenced article from Kotaku, one of the major downfalls of Infinity was over-producing the figures. In an effort to capitalize on every possible sale, they went from having popular figures being hard to find, something that may make casual fans frustrated, but makes collectors salivate, to having pegs in every store from Walmart and Best Buy to Game Stop and Toys ‘R Us packed with almost every figure from every set. I understand a knee-jerk reaction to missed sales after the initial launch, but to keep the production level turned up to eleven for 3.0 and not adjusting it down based on sales from 2.0 was pretty poor business management. I mean, I get it, you’re adding Star Wars with 3.0, so you assume sales are going to explode, but why not cut production slightly and plan for possible re-releases? Or do something like they did for the release of Marvel Battlegrounds and create a new multi-pack that contains a group of popular/hard-to-find figures? Like I said, hindsight and all, but I would think a company with Disney’s reach and resources could afford to come up with a better game plan. At least they didn’t do what Skyladers does and release fifty billion different color variations of each figure, including some store-specific options (okay, I know technically Infinity does have those clear figures and a few Light FX figures, but that’s pretty small potatoes compared to what they could have done). Imagine if there was not only a Tatooine Luke, but a Hoth, an Endor, a Jedi Knight, a special Jabba’s Palace Jedi Knight with his cloak  on…you get the picture…they could have flooded the market with several variations on each figure, but they didn’t; instead, they flooded the market with too many of the same figures. Actually, now that I think about it from an either/or standpoint, I’m not convinced throwing more limited releases of several versions of the figures wouldn’t have been a better call. I mean, I know I’d probably have at least two of most characters, and I’m not really a big collector. I’m no businessman by any means, but it seems to me there were several boats setting sail from Infinity harbor and Disney missed them all.

The other main problem seems to have been that there were “too many chiefs and not enough Indians,” so to speak, meaning that each individual IP (i.e. Marvel and Lucasfilm) wanted to dictate what sets and characters to include rather than letting the developers add characters that fit with the content they’re creating. For example, you can pick up a figure for just about any member of the Ghost crew from Rebels, but there’s no playset of their own to play them on. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like the availability of the Rebels figures, but I think having more characters that fit into the original trilogy and Clone Wars playets would have made more sense. I mean, how cool would it be to play as Anakin alongside someone playing as Padme, huh? Or playing as Obi-wan with Mace Windu? Or, you know, it is a kid’s game at heart, so where’s Jar Jar? The situation brings to mind another Star Wars game that crumbled due to outside sources, my once-beloved Star Wars Galaxies. You see, it started out as a Rebellion-era MMO with no Jedi characters, but the populous constantly whined and cried that they wanted to be Jedi, so they added an insanely hard, grindy, life-sink method to becoming a Jedi to the game…then people complained that it was too hard and took too long, so they added a slightly easier, though no less grindy method…nope, not good enough, so, eventually, they just allowed anyone to create a Jedi character from the beginning, which led to a Rebellion-era game with more Jedi than would have existed during the prequels…sigh…now, I know it’s not really fair to compare pressure from companies that want to promote certain aspects of their overall product vs. pressure from the consumer (because of course those responsible for how their IP is handled should have a say in the development) but, in the end, I think it’s fair to say that pressure from too many outside voices caused both projects to fold.

So what’s next? Are Star Wars and Marvel dead in the water as far as toys-to-life games go? Maybe, yes, or at least on life support for as long as the Infinity servers are still up and running, but maybe not…if you think hard about what other toy giant combines almost all things in a way that’s been successful for decades, you should eventually come up with:  Lego. Lego’s been making playsets, shows, and video games for quite a while now that involve both Marvel and Star Wars, as well as several other IPs, and seem to have no problem getting along with everyone. So why not assume that Lego Dimensions, the relatively-new toys-to-life addition to their impressive portfolio, would eventually add Star Wars and Marvel characters to its lineup? Frankly, I’d be surprised if they didn’t. It seems like a no-brainer to me. It’d be like Disney having their cake and eating it too:  they get to remain in the toys-to-life market, but don’t have to do anything aside from give Lego the green light to use their characters. Seems like a win/win scenario.

So, if you’re bummed about the demise of Infinity like I am, don’t lose all hope…sure, it’s a wild assumption, but it’s not totally out of the realm of possibility, which makes it the best kind of wild assumption. And, on the bright side, I imagine Infinity figures will be dirt cheap in the next few months so you can bolster your collection for a lot less than you probably ever would have had the franchise kept chugging along…so, bright side, I guess? Anyway, regardless of what you think of Infinity, I think it’s a bummer to see anything Star Wars-related go away, especially in this time of its massive resurgence, but mourn it do not, miss it do not, just keep playing and collecting (or, if you don’t care, continue not caring) and, while you do, may the Force be with you…

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