Disney Infinity's death timeline is a sad affair

It’s not news that Disney Infinity is dying, but the company’s timeline for its death says a lot about where gaming is going.
Disney announced some months back that it was pulling the plug on its Toys To Life brand, Disney Infinity, so that wasn’t news, per se. Still, the mass sending of an email giving the precise directions on how the corpse was to dissected still did hit me like a gut punch.
Now, it shouldn’t be a surprise that a game that relied on some form of online support that was known to be being killed is, indeed, being killed. At some point it was inevitable. I got an email not from Disney PR, but because the games are registered to my own email address as well. It lays out the timeframe like so:
Attention, Toy Box Builders: 
Since announcing that we will discontinue the production of Disney Infinity, we’ve been exploring timelines for the closure of the game’s online versions and community features. Our goal has been to offer extended access to these services, while also providing clear communication about what you can expect. It’s important to note that: 
The console versions of Disney Infinity will continue to operate as usual with full access to figures and play sets only with the exception of community content features and online multiplayer
Until September 30, 2016, Community Content will still be available and you will be able to upload and download any of your favorite Toy Box creations
Below is an overview of the timelines and additional details are available on our FAQ pages. 
As of today (July 29, 2016) 
No in-game purchases can be made within the PC, Steam version of Disney Infinity 2.0, iOS, Google Android, Amazon Android and Apple TV versions of the game as this feature has now been removed
You can continue to make in-game purchases within the Steam version of Disney Infinity 3.0.
As of September 30, 2016 
You will no longer be able to log in to play the PC, iOS, Google Android and Amazon Android versions of Disney Infinity, these will no longer be available on the respective app stores
The Steam versions of Disney Infinity 2.0 & 3.0 will remain operational with the exception of all online services and community features as these will be discontinued
Apple TV versions of Disney Infinity will be removed from the AppStore
The Disney Infinity Community team will no longer be reviewing or approving any new Toy Boxes that are submitted to Disney for all console, mobile and PC versions of the game. However if you are playing on any console, Apple TV or Windows 8/10 versions of the game, you can continue to download your favorite Toy Boxes from the Community Content section until March 3, 2017
As of January 3, 2017 
No in-game purchases can be made within the Windows 8/10 versions of the game as this feature will be removed
As of March 3, 2017 
Apple TV and Windows 8/10 versions will no longer be available, supported or playable
All Disney Infinity online services and community features for all versions will be discontinued
To learn more about which services of Disney Infinity are being removed or information related to your game version, visit our Closing FAQs located here for additional information. 
Please check the Disney Infinity website frequently prior to March 3, 2017 as we will provide the Disney Infinity community with news and status of the game across all platforms should the status change. 
Thank you for your support and enthusiasm through the years. 
The entire Disney Infinity team

A Black Widow toy. One of only a few Black Widow toys, sadly.
A Black Widow toy. One of only a few Black Widow toys, sadly.

All very corporate and deliberate, and no doubt not much fun for the folks behind the scenes who worked to make the Disney Infinity games what they were.
I’ve got a shelf of Disney Infinity toys, and as small statuettes they’re generally great. They don’t stop being nice display pieces, or even (gasp!) toys, just because Disney pulls the plug.
But the games do, at least in part. Disney Infinity’s market position appeared very cynical at first. A grab for all that sweet Skylanders money. A very Disney thing from the so-called House of Mouse.
What we got was something quite different; a game that celebrated and encouraged group play. Not just in your standard get critical mass multiplayer way, but one that encouraged learning through play while retaining the fun of play. Disney can’t claim an exclusive on that, but it is still surprisingly rare.
See also:

Disney Infinity Review
Disney Infinity 2.0: Marvel Super Heroes Review
Disney Infinity 3.0 Review
There was a kind of glorious insanity about the whole enterprise. Also, a stark reminder of how much IP Disney actually owns.
There was a kind of glorious insanity about the whole enterprise.
Also, a stark reminder of how much IP Disney actually owns.

Some of the essence of the game remains — it’s not like the disc copies will stop working just because Disney says so – but that online collaboration goes, and with it the community. With it, the creative efforts of so many toy boxes, including many I’m sure I’ve never even looked at. Time being a precious commodity for me right now, I probably never will.
Something tells me that Disney’s lawyers probably wouldn’t look too kindly on any fan-based hacks to share toy boxes on pure copyright grounds. Although somebody will probably try.
One odd side thought: The death of Disney Infinity no doubt tracks against the waning fortunes of the whole Toys To Life category, but oddly, I’ve yet to see Disney Infinity characters on particular clearance anywhere, at least in Australia. Amiibo discounts are very thick on the ground right now, as are any remaining Skylanders toys from previous generations, but what Disney Infinity content is on store shelves is there pretty much at full price. I wonder when that will change?
As should be no surprise to anybody, I’m something of a fan of retro gaming. In the not-very-distant future, Disney Infinity will be retro. Its first game came out on consoles that, technically speaking, already are retro.
However, unlike the time-worn cartridges that line my shelves, the retro Disney Infinity experience will never be quite as magical as it was, because it can’t be.

Author: Alex

Alex Kidman is a multi-award winning Australian technology writer, former editor at Gizmodo, CNET, GameSpot, ZDNet, PC Mag, APC, Finder and as a contributor to the ABC, SMH, AFR, Courier Mail, GadgetGuy, PC & Tech Authority, Atomic and many more. He's been writing professionally since 1998, and his passions include technology, social issues, education, retro gaming and professional wrestling.

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