Disney's 'Infinity' video game sees brisk retail sales

Reuters
People visit the Disney Infinity exhibit at E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, in Los Angeles, California.
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People visit the Disney Infinity exhibit at E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, in Los Angeles, California, June 11, 2013. REUTERS/David McNew

By Malathi Nayak

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Walt Disney Co's recently launched video game "Infinity" is selling strongly and major retailers report they are replenishing stock to meet demand, an encouraging start for the media giant's plans to turn around its loss-making game division.

GameStop, Toys"R"Us and Wal-Mart Stores said they are restocking to stay ahead of demand for the game, which was released on August 18.

"The momentum continues to be very strong," said Matt Hodges, a GameStop spokesman. "A couple of toy characters like Violet (the young female superhero from "The Incredibles") are hard to get."

Disney and the retailers did not share specific sales figures. Research firm NPD, that tracks video game industry sales, is expected to release its monthly report next week.

The children's game, which is made for consoles and PCs, involves players collecting plastic toys based on various Disney characters and placing them on an electronic platform to transport their animated images on to TV screens. Players can also buy plastic "power discs," which gives toy figures special powers in the virtual game.

A sales representative at a GameStop store in San Francisco said that Infinity products were sold out at the store on launch day and were well-received in the weeks that followed.

Some toys and power discs may be "hard to find" in stores, according to Richard Barry, chief merchandising officer at Toys"R"Us, although he said Disney Infinity merchandise is arriving in regular shipments to meet consumer demand.

Toys"R"Us expects the game's momentum to continue through the holiday season, Barry said.

"We will be building a boutique at the front of our stores so our support for the franchise will increase in the weeks ahead with a very prominent display at the front of our stores," he added.

Eric Bright, senior buyer of video games for Wal-Mart in the United States, said: "We don't have a crystal ball, but we're excited about what we see so far."

Disney has built an enviable record in producing hit movies but has had a succession of lackluster interactive game products. If brisk sales continue, especially through the crucial holiday season, Infinity could become a rare video game hit for the company.

The company is pleased with the consumer response it has been seeing since the Infinity launch, a Disney Interactive spokesman said.

Disney's five-year old interactive division, which houses its video game and online properties, has chalked up losses in 14 of its 15 quarters, compiling about $1.16 billion in total operating losses in that time.

The company delayed Infinity's launch by two months. In May, Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger told analysts on an earnings call that the delay will likely keep the interactive division from turning a profit in the fiscal year ending September 30.

Infinity is Disney's response to Activision Blizzard Inc's Skylanders games, which successfully introduced the concept of physical toys interacting with video games in 2011. That franchise has raked in over than $1.5 billion worldwide in retail sales and its second title was one of 2012's top-selling games.

While "Skylanders" is set in a magical world called Skylands, in "Infinity" players can pit characters from Disney or Pixar movies, like the super-charged racecar Lighting McQueen from "Cars" and quick-footed superhero Dash from "The Incredibles," in races and quests.

Activision is launching its hit game's third iteration, "Skylanders: Swap Force" on October 13 that will compete head-on with newcomer Infinity.

"You're going to see a great battle between Infinity and Skylanders this holiday season," GameStop President Tony Bartel said, who did not provide details on pre-order numbers of Activision's upcoming game.

(Reporting by Malathi Nayak; Editing by Ronald Grover and Tim Dobbyn)

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