There is something ironic about hearing that a video game system with the word “infinity” in it’s name is about to end. Disney has decided to discontinue production of Disney Infinity. This will likely be sad news for kids (and adults, for that matter) who were having fun playing the games and collecting the figures.
Disney Infinity, for those who are unaware, was a video game series that included interactive action figures. The latest version, Disney Infinity 3.0, was a video game disc that was needed for a person to play with all of their 3.0 figures, play sets, power discs, and Toy Box Expansion games. (It also allowed people to use their 1.0 and 2.0 figures and power discs).
In short, Disney Infinity was a video game system that incorporated figures into the game. Players needed to purchase a physical figure so that they could play as that Disney character in the game. It was also possible to buy play sets. Some have referred to this type of video gameplay as “toys-to-life”.
The Disney Interactive website has an update about Disney Infinity. It was written by SPV & GM of Disney Infinity, John Blackburn. The first sentence is probably the most informative: “By now you may have heard the news that we have made the difficult decision to discontinue production of Disney Infinity.”
The update also notes that there are two final retail releases coming, including three new characters from Alice Through the Looking Glass later this month, and the Finding Dory Play Set that will be launched in June.
Game Informer reported that Disney is also shuttering Infinity studio Avalanche, Disney’s internal studio that developed the Disney Infinity game. The implication seems to be that Disney is pulling out of the video game publishing arena. Ars Technica pointed out that Disney Infinity launched in 2013 to compete with Activision’s Skylanders, which was another toys-to-life video game.
When Apple released the latest version of its set-top AppleTV box, much hype was focused on the device’s ability to run third-party apps. This development was a departure from the closed-off nature of previous iterations of the Apple TV. The addition of third-party app support meant that Apple TV could now be used as more than just a media-consumption box. It could also be used to play games. Many game developers have taken advantage of the opportunity and ported existing games to the platform. Of course, the diminutive Apple TV doesn’t have the internal horsepower of a major modern gaming console like Xbox One or Playstation 4. And that lack of muscle may cause the device some issues in the long run, as game developers focus on those other platforms for their big titles.
That was exactly the case when Disney dropped support for its popular Disney Infinity title from Apple TV. Disney Infinity is an “open-world” style game that allows users to unlock playable characters by purchasing real-world figurines that come with in-game unlock codes. Disney Infinity has been around for a few years and its current iteration (Disney Infinity 3.0) is compatible with Playstation 3, 4 and PSVita, Xbox One and Xbox 360, Nintendo WiiU, Windows-based PC’s, and Steam.
No word has come from Disney as to whether or not Infinity may return to Apple TV. But losing a title like this may cause Apple to reconsider the role of Apple TV as a media consumption device, and give it enough power to run more complex apps like these types of games.
To us geeks, it seems obvious that eventually all media will become on-demand and streamable over the Internet. But the large media companies that are often the gatekeepers to the content we want have been slow to adopt this method of distribution. Rumors have been circulating that Apple is working with TV and cable providers to try and “unbundle” the cable/satellite TV model, effectively creating an a-la-carte system where consumers can pick and choose the channels they want, instead of being forced to pay for a bunch of channels they don’t want in order to get they ones they actually like to watch. We’re probably still a few years away from that happening. Still, some content providers are stepping up and releasing their own apps that allow for on-demand streaming now. The latest high-profile name to jump into this arena is Disney.
This week, the media giant announced the launch of its DisneyLife streaming service. DisneyLife allows a family of up to six members to gain access to a comprehensive collection of Disney media including movies, TV shows, music, audiobooks, and e-books. It’s unclear at this point just how deep the DisneyLife library is. But considering how much intellectual property the company controls, DisneyLife’s potential seems almost infinite.
For now, DisneyLife is only available in the UK. There are plans to expand the service into other markets. Disney currently has licensing deals in place with Netflix for some of its properties, which probably explains why DisneyLife isn’t launching right away in the States. But it seems like only a matter of time before the service is available everywhere.
Today Disney announced that they are closing their online web movie service on December 31. This service allowed consumers to watch any Disney or Pixar movie that were available.
I have to admit I have never used the service and I don’t know anyone who does. However after reading its limitation I am not surprise it failed. The videos couldn’t be downloaded. You could only watch them on a computer through a web browser. No watching them on an Xbox 360, PS3 or other internet connected devices. If Disney wanted to create a service that was guaranteed to fail they couldn’t have done a better job. In an era where consumers want to watch videos when and on what device they want, Disney created a platform that did the exact opposite. It is pretty clear why they did it they wanted to maintain control and prevent piracy. However in their attempt to maintain control, they drove consumer to other options such as Netflix or Amazon Prime.
If you purchased a Disney Combo Pack, you can transfer the Digital copy either to iTunes or Windows Media Player. Disney said they are working on a new service called Disney Movies Anywhere, that would allow consumers to watch Disney and Pixar movies anywhere across multiple devices. No launch date has been announced at this time. Even if Disney has a successful relaunch of their online video service. I wonder if a service that only provides videos from a single studio, even if that studio is Disney and Pixar can survive in an era that include services like Netflix.
As ubiquitous as touch screens have become over the past decade or so, the future of touch technology is right around the bend. Actually, it seems to be in Pittsburgh, PA, of all places. Even less expectedly, it can be found at the Disney Research facility there.
The new technology is a complex touch and gesture sensing technology called “Touché” that uses a Swept Frequency Capacitive Sensing technique. This technique essentially allows for sensors to read a range of actions, touches or gestures, rather than the conventional, binary approach we see now with touch screens (basically, touch or no-touch).
In addition to reading complex touch actions over a range of objects far beyond our current touch screens (think doorknobs, furniture, appliances), Touché can also be implemented to read gestures.
As usual, seeing this new technology in action does far more justice than simple explanation. Some of the examples are pretty impressive – controlling the music player on your phone or device through customized hand gestures. Some are just plain weird – teaching children how to eat cereal by sounding a buzzer when they use the wrong utensil (seriously, who came up with that one? That’s some old-school psychological conditioning right there).
The practical implications of this technology are fascinating. With the sensors used to capture gesticulations and touch interactions with virtually any object, this type of technology widely implemented could fundamentally change entire environments. Your door handle “learns” your touch. Your couch learns your entertainment habits and adjusts ambiance based on your posture. Heck, this stuff even works underwater.
Pretty impressive stuff from the folks that typically bring us cartoons and kid’s programming.
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