Despite the continued success of the Disney Co. as a whole, Disney's interactive division, responsible for games like the console adventure "Epic Mickey" and the online virtual world "Club Penguin," operated at a loss last year. If "Infinity" becomes as financially successful as "Skylanders," it could provide a much needed boost to Disney Interactive.
"We believe that 2013 is an important year for us," said Pleasants. "This is the biggest initiative we're investing in this year, and we hope it will have a positive impact on generating profit this year."
A starter pack for "Infinity" will include the game, reader, play set piece and three figures: Sulley of "Monsters University," Captain Jack Sparrow of "Pirates of the Caribbean" and Mr. Incredible of "The Incredibles." Pleasants said the starter pack will cost $74.99, the same price as the "Skylanders: Giants" starter pack released last year.
"Infinity" will initially launch with 17 figures ($12.99 a piece, or $29.99 for a three-pack) and 20 power discs ($4.99 a pack).
The power discs can be placed on the reader to provide new items and power-ups. For example, slipping the disc for Fix-It Felix Jr.'s hammer from "Wreck-It Ralph" underneath Davy Jones from "Pirates of the Caribbean" will raise the captain's ability to deal damage.
Disney sees "Infinity" as a long-term platform with a plan to release new figures, play sets and power discs over the next several years.
"Within 'Infinity,' we will leverage Disney characters from the past, present and future — and we will continue to do so in the future," said Pleasants.
Disney is clearly taking a cue from Activision with "Infinity," injecting the toys-meets-games genre with its own characters and locales — and perhaps smartly so. Activision Blizzard Inc. revealed last week that its "Skylanders" franchise crossed the $500 million mark in U.S. retail sales, outselling top action figure lines from franchises such as the WWE and "Star Wars."
"We are thrilled by the incredible success that the 'Skylanders' franchise has had in such a short period of time," said John Coyne, vice president of consumer marketing at Activision. "We are also flattered that one of the leading family entertainment companies is joining our toys-to-life category."
Pleasants noted that "Infinity" is driving past the innovations that Activision originally made when it launched the genre with "Skylanders" in 2011. He said that unlike "Skylanders," ''Infinity" will boast several different styles of gameplay. The play set for "The Incredibles," for example, is more focused on action than the one for "Monsters University," where stealthiness is the name of the game.
"We have some pretty interesting things up our sleeve online and on mobile that we'll be doing," said Pleasants, "We think they will be really different than what 'Skylanders' has done."
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/derrikjlang