How Disney Infinity 3.0 ‘Star Wars’ Game Stayed True to ‘Episode 7’

Star Wars Infinity
Courtesy of Disney Interactive

Star Wars: Infinity” didn’t come as a surprise to too many people in the videogame world.

Given Disney’s history of adding relevant new properties to its toys-to-life game franchise (where fans can buy real-world figurines at stores that work with the videogame via a portal that plugs into consoles), it was something of a lock, given the film’s release this December.

But the road to creating that game meant that Disney Interactive has had to work closely with Lucasfilm, and the sensibilities of a game maker have had to find a way to gel with the guardian of the most popular entertainment franchise in history.

The collaboration, say both parties, has been smooth overall, although finding common ground has been a bit challenging at times.

The release of the May 5 launch trailer, for instance, presented some creative challenges for the teams.

“We didn’t know, on the ‘Infinity’ team, what the tone of ‘Episode Seven’ is, so when we went through and were doing [the trailer for the game], the tone was really off,” says John Blackburn, senior vice president and general manager of Disney Infinity. “’Infinity’ was definitely much more humorous. We were coming at it from this need to be funny. They said ‘No, we want it to match the tone of the films and particularly where we see episode seven going.’”

Striking a balance between the sometimes dark nature of the films and a videogame geared toward children has been a balancing act, but it’s one Lucasfilm says has been important to get right.

“Kids get introduced to ‘Star Wars’ through videogames, and we knew that having content that stretched across the ‘Star Wars’ universe was important to us,” says Ada Duan, vice president of digital business and franchise management at Lucasfilm.

The game will incorporate all visual incarnations of the “Star Wars” universe — from the prequels, to the original films, to the “Clone Wars” cartoons. And the game will give “The Force Awakens” its own playset — likely tied closely with the film’s release date.

Some characters, like Yoda, have been easy to bring into the Disney Infinity fold. The Jedi master’s frenetic combat aerobatics in “Revenge of the Sith” were a natural fit for a videogame. But Darth Vader proved a bit challenging.

“Darth Vader has been hard for us because: How does he move in the game?,” says Blackburn. “Darth Vader is always this stately presence [in the movies], but the game is designed so that everybody runs. How do you do something to keep him …”

“Authentic to character, but also make him work within the game,” finishes Duan.

Also, some elements that make for really fun gameplay run contrary to what the films have designated as canon.

“[We brought in developer] Ninja Theory, and the way they do lightsaber combat is not really true to what Jedi do,” says Blackburn. “We know how much fun the game would be if we allow them to stay up in the air longer, so we did a prototype and [told Lucasfilm], ‘This isn’t what Jedi do, but for gameplay purposes, can we do it?’”

Lucasfilm agreed it was a good game element and gave its blessing.

Disney Infinity 3.0 will release this fall, though the company has not yet given a specific time frame.