The game platform starts with a $75 starter pack—comes with three game figurines, which have accompanying video game content, and a base, which plugs into any of the consoles.
When gamers put the figurines down on the base, it recognizes them, and they appear in the game. Additional purchases allow players to add extra characters and locations—another $30 buys a pack of three figurines.
A "Toybox" mode allows gamers to create their own backdrops and levels, making the experience, including the crafting of the game, interactive.
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This replaces Disney's money-losing strategy of introducing a stand-alone $60 console game for each big movie release—Disney's Interactive unit has lost $1.4 billion since 2008.
Recently the division slashed its employee numbers and closed a number of studios that make stand-alone games, as it looked for more profitable ways to tap into the value of its brands. This new approach works under the assumption that just kids enjoy collecting Disney consumer products, they'll want the toys, as well as the content that comes along with them.
Video game analyst Michael Pachter, who spent several hours testing the new game, predicts Disney's investment will pay off in Drives.
"I think this game has billion-dollar potential on an annual basis," Pachter said. "And I would guess at a 50 percent margin or higher, so I think this has the potential to generate $500 million in annual profit."
He was impressed by the fact that the technology creates a "smart" game. "The playing pieces have a microchip built in and they actually learn from what the players have done. So your little game piece, which is a character, has unique ability, powers, personality—something that assists you in playing the game."