Everyone put on your tinfoil hats, because it’s crazy theory time!
Before Disney Infinity 3.0 had been announced, we were all pretty confident it was going to be the Star Wars version of the game. It just made sense, with Disney’s recent acquisition of the Star Wars brand, Disney Originals IP dominating 1.0, and Marvel content in 2.0. Speculation has been rife since 3.0’s release (and truthfully, even before then) on the future of the Disney Infinity franchise for 4.0 and beyond.
Today, it seems like we got our first hints of what that may be, Disney Infinity Next.
Now, while it says on the page
TAKE A LOOK BEHIND THE MAGIC AND SEE WHAT’S COMING NEXT TO DISNEY INFINITY 3.0 EDITION.
What we’ve noticed is the consistent, repeated attempts at creating an identity for a brand called “Disney Infinity Next”. You can see it in the image above, and you can see it in the other sections quoted below, where the word “NEXT” directly replaces where we’ve come to expect the “3.0”:
DISNEY INFINITY NEXT COUNTDOWN
12 DAYS UNTIL DISNEY INFINITY NEXT PREMIERE
DISNEY INFINITY NEXT NOW REACTION PARTY
DISNEY INFINITY NEXT NIGHT & ZOOTOPIA SCREENING
This is no accident, and those are just the few instances on the page that we see. Is it possible that in the future of Disney Infinity, we won’t be talking about version numbers, but we’ll be talking about one game, possibly even called “Disney Infinity Next”? In their Twitter post on the topic, @DisneyInfinity also coined #DisneyInfinityNEXT, their first new Disney Infinity hashtag since 3.0’s original #JoinForces campaign.
— Disney Infinity (@DisneyInfinity) February 18, 2016
Why would they say “what’s coming next to Disney Infinity 3.0 Edition” if they’re rebranding to Disney Infinity Next?
Simply put, because Disney Infinity 3.0 isn’t over yet. We’ve got a new play set release in a month, and there’s still plenty of content which has yet to be announced with the game. The question we should really be asking (and of course, some of us are) is why have they waited so long to announce these new details about Marvel Battlegrounds, despite the leaks? It was over seven months ago now that we first got a hint of Antman, and concept art for his figure and more leaked back in early January.
When it was revealed that many of the upcoming 3.0 figures will require Internet connectivity, we speculated that this would open the doorway to Disney providing DLC, which John Vignocchi retweeted. Also, when we tweeted our speculation about the Disney Infinity Next rebrand,
— Disney Infinity Code (@DisneyCheats) February 18, 2016
JV retweeted us then, too. Of course, that may just mean the man likes to retweet! So let’s go to the horse’s mouth.
At the 2nd (“hopefully annual”) Toy Box Summit in 2015, practically the first thing Vignocchi said when he walked on stage was
“We’ve always envisioned Disney Infinity as a platform for all the Walt Disney Company’s brands, and we consider the launch of Disney Infinity 3.0 this year to be the end of the introductory phase of the Disney Infinity brand.”
I can’t emphasize that enough; DI 3.0 is the end of the introductory phase of the Disney Infinity brand, in the words of its Vice President of Production. With that sentiment in mind, it’s pretty easy for today’s announcement (or announcement announcement?) to come across as a hint that we may soon be getting a peek at the next phase for the Disney Infinity brand.
And if new features, like web connectivity requirements for DLC, are central to the future endgame of the Disney Infinity franchise, it could make sense that they’ve kept mum for so long on details about the new play set. Instead of simply announcing “oh, by the way, Marvel Battlegrounds will incorporate DLC”, why not turn that into a more significant announcement, that digital DLC could be the future of the franchise on the whole?
That’s not to say physical content will go away, but possibly that a digital-only participation vector in the game could become more emphasized, more in line with how the game is presented in its existing digital incarnations on PC and mobile. Also, providing this participation vector for console players could alleviate concerns held by some players of the cost and clutter associated with a large Disney Infinity collection.
Why rebrand at all?
One of the simplest reasons is a certain level of management of expectations. When you look at a franchise like Skylanders or other toys to life figures like Amiibo, we don’t see the constantly increasing numeral tacked onto the end of a name, indicating a “version increase”, as we have with Disney Infinity.
Even Lego Dimensions has announced their first proper title is committed to a minimum 3-year release. Dropping the number-point-oh nomenclature brings Disney Infinity in line with other toys to life franchises, but also takes the burden off new content releases, making it feel less like they need to be a massive engine overhaul every time.
It wasn’t that long ago, and the current version is 44.0.2, a war of the biggest numbers Mozilla seems to be waging since the dominance of Chrome.
It also will help to lessen the confusion with parents and newcomers to the franchise. Instead of versions 1, 2, and 3, all of which are incompatible with each other (except for characters and power discs), with different play sets for each version, could we someday see one version of Disney Infinity with separate content releases?
And now that the pie is so thoroughly already in the sky, could we also potentially see a version of Disney Infinity where all of our characters can enjoy story content together?
Lastly, and we have no way to know if “Disney Infinity Next” is the actual new brand name for the franchise (though they do seem to be pushing it pretty hard) or only the brand for their rebrand, but if Disney Infinity Next is the title we can look forward to in the future, it’s a pretty brilliant little moniker.
Not only does it thoroughly and concisely convey that this Disney Infinity brand is always focused on the future, but it allows them to retain their existing IN branding and logos as an initialism for “Infinity Next”, rather than INfinity.
What do you guys think? Is anything we’ve said within the realm of Disney’s infinite possibilities?