Earlier this evening, the New York Times broke the news that Disney Infinity will no longer be released in June as previously announced, but has been pushed back to August 18 domestically, with a European release a couple of days later.
The move, according to the article, was one based on market and positioning, suggesting retailers were receptive to the product and offering valuable shelf space for it but wanted it closer to the holiday season.
While the article gives the impression that Disney Interactive feels the move will be better overall for its bottom line (at least come 2014), it also introduces some doubts as well.
For starters, the article focuses on how far Disney Infinity will trail Pixar’s Monsters University, which it was originally going to be released with in tandem. However, there is another title Disney Infinity was set to promote at launch, that being Jerry Bruckheimer’s The Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer. Although not yet officially announced by Disney Interactive, the Lone Ranger is believed to be the promised mysterious second playset available at launch. An image of the first wave of the Disney Infinity power disc package supports that theory, with images of Tonto and the Lone Ranger prominently featured along with the (mostly) known remaining figures at launch.
In short, whereas players would have been introduced to the world of The Lone Ranger a few weeks prior to its theatrical release date of July 3, now Disney Interactive will have to hope that the movie is entertaining enough to its audience that they’ll want to purchase the play set at an additional cost several weeks later.
The shelf date also brings Disney Infinity closer to the launch date of PlayStation 4, which is not known to support the Disney Infinity platform as of yet (more surprise announcements, anyone?) as Sony has already acknowledged that the PS4 won’t be backwards compatible with PS3 titles.
If in fact the push is at the behest of retailers, one thing is clear: Disney is ready to play ball. Although it’s not a traditional outlet for video games for obvious reasons, we are told Disney Store will be carrying Disney Infinity both online and in-store and Disney clearly could’ve easily had the upper hand in the retail battle by simply making it a Disney Store exclusive until the big boys decide to jump in.