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Posted by austin_walker (561 posts) -
Infinity 3.0 brought the series to the Star Wars universe.
Infinity 3.0 brought the series to the Star Wars universe.

The toys-to-life market has one less major player today, and unfortunately that also means that hundreds of employees have also lost their jobs.

In a blog post made this afternoon, Avalanche Software'sJohn Blackburn announced that Disney would be discontinuing Disney Infinity in June. Additional information emerging from an earnings report and investor call indicates that Disney will be closing developer Avalanche Software. According to the Wall Street Journal's Ben Fritz, this will result in the release of nearly 300 employees.

The earnings report is (understandably) filled with lots of business jargon that makes it hard to follow. I'm not an expert, but I'll try to break it down as best as I can:

  • Disney is taking a "$147 million charge in connection with the discontinuation of our self-published console games business, principally Infinity." My understanding is that this means that because of this one-time event (the shuttering of Avalanche), Disney is taking a loss during this financial period of $147M. They say this to signal to investors that this is a one time issue, not a cost that will likely repeat indefinitely. In the opening of the report,
  • "The Infinity Charge was primarily due to an inventory write-down." An "inventory write down" is what happens when a company realizes that assets it has aren't going to sell for the price they were predicting they'd sell for. In this case, Disney is basically telling its investors that there was a $147M difference between the estimated value of the Infinity line of products and the actual market value that they now think the line has.
  • The report also notes that this charge also includes "severance and other asset impairments," but these are secondary causes. Specific numbers aren't given here, so it's hard to speculate with any accuracy about the percentage these make up of the $147M charge.

The long and short is that Disney is sitting on a ton of Infinity merchandise that just isn't worth the money they thought it would be, leading the company to make a sharp exit from the games publishing market.

Don't expect this to be the end of Marvel, Star Wars, and other Disney-property games, though. In a statement provided to GamesBeat, Disney confirmed that it will continue to license its many properties out to other developers and offered some additional perspective on their decision to cancel future Infinity products:

After a thorough evaluation, we have modified our approach to console gaming and will transition exclusively to a licensing model. This shift in strategy means we will cease production of Disney Infinity, where the lack of growth in the toys-to-life market, coupled with high development costs, has created a challenging business model. This means that we will be shutting down Avalanche, our internal studio that developed the game. This was a difficult decision that we did not take lightly given the quality of Disney Infinity and its many passionate fans.

According to Blackburn, Infinity will offer two more retail releases, "including three new characters from Alice Through the Looking Glass later this month, and the Finding Dory Play Set launching in June." Blackburn additionally thanked the long term fans of the series for their support and enthusiasm.

It's worth taking a peak at Avalanche's development history, which includes a number of late 90s console ports of major Midway games like Mortal Kombat Trilogy and NFL Blitz 2000.

Hopefully those affected by these layoffs will be able to find new employment soon.

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#1 Edited by sungahymn (1187 posts) -

Whoa. So much for infinity and beyond, huh?

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#2 Posted by SgtSphynx (2616 posts) -

WTF? Did not see that coming.

Moderator
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#3 Posted by James_ex_machina (1067 posts) -

Poor Johnny V.

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#4 Posted by metalsnakezero (2884 posts) -

So does John Vignocchi still has a job?

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#5 Posted by mellotronrules (2591 posts) -

ugh- i'm not in the target demo but that's terrible news any way you slice it.

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#6 Posted by Sluitstripje (14 posts) -

Please hire Johnny V. I'll be willing to pay a buck more on my premium.

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#7 Posted by zockroach (116 posts) -

JOHNNY V

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#8 Posted by csl316 (14959 posts) -

Damn.

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#9 Posted by Kenori (67 posts) -

Hope John lands on his feet.

This is kinda shocking.

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#10 Posted by EthanielRain (1563 posts) -

Surprising, but then again not - why not just license out your properties, no risk or investment required.

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#11 Posted by MrWakka (322 posts) -

@james_ex_machina: Is he among those in the layoff? I know he worked for disney but have no idea of what his specific role was.

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#12 Posted by CaptRoFL (86 posts) -

This is surprising, I always thought that the toys-to-life (???) genre was doing gangbusters for everyone involved. Is Nintendo the only ones making bank from plastic figures or is Activision doing as well as they Nintendo?

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#13 Posted by John-Luke (462 posts) -

That's too bad. It was a cool platform, specifically the Toy Box.

Good luck to all those affected.

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#14 Posted by deactivated-5a264ba32aa29 (49 posts) -

This is nuts. I always thought Infinity was one of the best toys-to-life offerings with the Toy Box stuff, so it'll be interesting to see what happens to the ecosystem. I wonder if they could license the property out to another third-party developer for a reboot of sorts, allowing existing people with those figures to play with them.

It feels like such a waste if they just finish updating 3.0 and just let it hang.

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#15 Posted by flippyandnod (758 posts) -

Toys-to-life following in the footsteps of plastic instrument games?

How long can Amibos hold out?

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#16 Posted by IshimuraD (481 posts) -

My first thought reading the headline was worrying about Johnny V. Hope he's not let go too, or at least can quickly find another gig.

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#17 Posted by DonkeyKong (201 posts) -

@captrofl said:

This is surprising, I always thought that the toys-to-life (???) genre was doing gangbusters for everyone involved. Is Nintendo the only ones making bank from plastic figures or is Activision doing as well as they Nintendo?

This is exactly what I was thinking. This is a huge suprise to me. Any time I walk into a video games store these days, its around a third full of toys-to-life stuff

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#18 Posted by flasaltine (2546 posts) -

I was under the impress that the game was doing well for them. Huh.

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#19 Edited by Megabattimus (145 posts) -

Is toys to life just dead now? Cause I haven't heard anything about how Lego Dimensions has been selling and I don't think Activision has said anything about Skylanders recently.

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#20 Posted by ArtisanBreads (9107 posts) -

Toys-to-life following in the footsteps of plastic instrument games?

How long can Amibos hold out?

I think this is a great point on that topic.

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#21 Posted by AMyggen (7738 posts) -

My first thought reading the headline was worrying about Johnny V. Hope he's not let go too, or at least can quickly find another gig.

And Matt Pascual. I`m sure they`ll land on their feet.

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#22 Posted by san_salvador (217 posts) -

Johnny V, are you ok?

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#23 Edited by drowsap (734 posts) -

Im guessing Johnny V has some friends at sony that have his back Will get at least one good podcast out of him here first I hope

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#24 Edited by hassun (9946 posts) -

This one really came out of the blue.

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#25 Posted by dgtlty (1221 posts) -
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#26 Posted by Shindig (4911 posts) -

He's on the phone to Dave Lang right now...

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#27 Posted by WilliamHenry (1290 posts) -

@mrwakka said:

@james_ex_machina: Is he among those in the layoff? I know he worked for disney but have no idea of what his specific role was.

His wiki page says he is "vice president of production for Disney Interactive", so its hard to know if he is affected by this.

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#28 Posted by Marty20k (254 posts) -

wow, out of the blue

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#29 Posted by fetterdave (274 posts) -

Two of my favorite games last gen were published by Disney Interactive: PURE and SPLIT/SECOND. It would be cool if one of the guys plays one of them on UPF this week.

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#30 Posted by anbilow (236 posts) -

Hope Johnny V is doing alright.

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#31 Edited by effache (343 posts) -

This has to be one of the biggest and most abrupt studio closures in recent vg history, can anyone think of anything else that compares?

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#32 Posted by chmod (295 posts) -

Another company done in by that photo of John Vignocchi's hairy chest.

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#33 Edited by Keirgo (128 posts) -

Well this came out of nowhere. I haven't been following all this "toys-to-life" stuff too closely, but I thought Infinity was doing pretty well, I guess not.

What's going to happen to Johnny V now? Will somebody think of Johnny V?!

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#34 Posted by Dichemstys (3923 posts) -

Disney Interactive was dope, this sucks to hear.

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#35 Posted by gravytrain (285 posts) -

Woah, Disney is a horrible corporate entity that doesn't care about the well being of the people it employees, I'm shocked! Really though this sucks for the devs involved.

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#36 Posted by MeAuntieNora (1268 posts) -

Whoa, damn. Best wishes to those affected.

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#37 Edited by NewHuman (329 posts) -

@shindig said:

He's on the phone to Dave Lang right now...

As if Lang would give JV his new number

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#38 Posted by wrecks (2680 posts) -

Toys to life days were always numbered. Sad for the employees it came so soon.

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#39 Posted by AMyggen (7738 posts) -
@effache said:

This has to be one of the biggest and most abrupt studio closures in recent vg history, can anyone think of anything else that compares?

Not really, completely out of the blue. Or, nothing can be completely out of the blue when it comes to Disney and gaming. With how they do their business it makes sense that they would want to get out of first party production of bigger games, and just license their IPs out to other devs.

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#40 Posted by generic_username (943 posts) -

What a huge bummer. Hope everyone can find their footing after this. I wonder if this is coming as just as big of a surprise to the devs as it is to us. I hope they find a way to manage.

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#41 Posted by Songhunter (49 posts) -

My thoughts to you, Johnny V, hope you land running.

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#42 Posted by robowitch (83 posts) -

@keirgo said:

Well this came out of nowhere. I haven't been following all this "toys-to-life" stuff too closely, but I thought Infinity was doing pretty well, I guess not.

I don't know if this necessarily means it wasn't doing well, it sounds like Disney just didn't see this as a growing market going forward. It seems like it was fairly profitable for them, but a corporate juggernaut like Disney probably compared the relative merit of producing Infinity themselves versus licensing stuff out on a game-by-game basis and decided it wasn't worth it.

(Licensed movie games, y'all! They're coming back!)

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#43 Posted by Capshot (74 posts) -

I've never played the Infinity games but they made for some really cool-looking figures. Hopefully everyone involved is able to find work soon.

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#44 Posted by clagnaught (2115 posts) -

Poor Johnny V. :(

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#45 Posted by poser (747 posts) -

I hate to see people lose their jobs but this game was really bad...

Also, how a company that had access to all those great characters, ended up making a generic brawler, is beyond comprehension.

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#46 Posted by colourful_hippie (5896 posts) -

Holy shit. Didn't see this coming. I honestly thought the quality of this game easily surpassed Skylanders but I guess it's still small fish for the behemoth that is Disney. Feeling bad for Johnny

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#47 Edited by megalowho (1146 posts) -

Feels like the writing was on the wall since Disney made it clear they wanted to just license IP out to third parties instead running in house studios. Making their one remaining game a toys to life product practically doomed them to play it safe and ride that wave until the fad died down and they could cut their losses. Their statement reads like it could have been written years ago by a VP who was never into the idea, saving it for the inevitable.

Maybe if there was a champion for gaming in the back rooms of Disney they'd have tried harder to make it work, and maybe there will be again someday. Tough break for Johnny V and Avalanche, they did a ton of fan outreach stuff too and built a loyal community around their game.

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#48 Posted by superkebabi (105 posts) -

147 million dollar write down is pretty freaking huge. Inital cost of Infinity project was $100 million on it's own... GL to Johnny V and everyone else at Disney

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#49 Posted by Duxa (265 posts) -

A lot of my friends worked on Infinity... they are all out of job now :(

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#50 Edited by Honkalot (1040 posts) -

Damn, sad to see that. :(