Disney is betting Marvel superheroes will rack up even more sales for its Disney Infinity game platform.
Captain America, the Hulk and Iron Man will battle foes in "Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes," the second generation of the top selling product for Disney's gaming division.
The new version of Disney Infinity is part of Disney's bet that its multiplayer gaming platform will continue to be popular. The first version of Infinity was one of the nation's best-selling games last year, according to video game website Polygon.
But Disney's gaming division, known as Disney Interactive, has struggled in past years. In March, Disney Interactive laid off 700 employees — about 26 percent of its staff worldwide. James Pitaro, president of Disney Interactive, said those cuts were based on his assessment of the products slated at that time.
"We were spread too thinly across too many things," Pitaro said, referring to Disney Interactive's work on websites in the mobile and social gaming spaces and non-game applications in development.
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While cuts were made, Pitaro said Disney Interactive also invested money into other aspects of its business, including Disney Infinity.
Things seem to be turning around for Disney Interactive. During Disney's first fiscal quarter, Disney Interactive had $403 million in sales, up 38 percent. The division had a first quarter operating income of $55 million, compared to $9 million during the same period a year earlier.
Focusing on what works for Disney Interactive
Disney said it will have more than 20 Marvel characters in the next generation version of Infinity, although only six characters were named on Wednesday: Iron Man, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Thor, Hulk and Captain America.
Michael Pachter, a managing director of equity research for Wedbush Securities, said he believes the Marvel characters will appeal to kids and teens. He also said he expects other characters from Star Wars and Pixar could join Disney Infinity in the future.
"The game was developed with the intent of picking as many characters from the Disney universe as they could and crafting some playable characters in Infinity to appeal to the broadest section of consumers," Pachter said.
Starter packs for the game will be sold for about $75 starting this fall. The Marvel super heroes will be able to fly, use new vehicles and have special skills related to their powers. For example, Hulk can throw a rage really well.