Even tough Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes debuted in the fall of 2014, that doesn’t mean Disney Interactive is done with the game. The first batch of additional playable characters (Ronan, Yondu, and Green Goblin) all hit stores today, with a second batch (featuring Loki and Falcon) to debut in March. We caught up with John Vignocchi, the executive producer of the Disney Infinity franchise and now Vice President of Production at Disney Interactive, to discuss these latest additions, as well as when we might be seeing more Marvel figures.
SuperHeroHype: The last time we spoke I mentioned that I think villains are some of people’s favorite characters in all of fiction but especially in the case of Marvel characters. Is the fan interest why you decided to include these characters as playable in the game?
John Vignocchi: Absolutely! I think it’s fair to say that our conversation helped inform part of the reason why these characters are joining the roster. The thing that happened in the first version of the game was we released the villain characters Randal, Syndrome, and Davy Jones at launch, and the journalists who were reviewing the game said in their reviews, “While it’s cool that the playsets had the villains, the fact that we didn’t have villain-specific content was a negative.” It’s such a double-edged sword for us, because we know players and fans want the villain characters, but then at the same time to have the game reviewers dock us points for including them wasn’t fair. So what we decided to do was, yes, we should add these villain characters, but we’ll add them later on so that they’re not going to affect review scores. [Laughs]
We actually were a little bit ahead of production on our characters and were able to call Marvel on the phone and say, “We have the ability to add some additional characters to the Disney Infinity 2.0 roster, what characters would you like to see added?” We had brought up, like our conversation, that fans wanted to be able to play as those villains, and of course the superheroes vs villains is always a key theme of Marvel and the entire comic and cinematic universe. They said they agreed that having Loki, Ronan, and Green Goblin join the roster was a good idea, but at the same time they had mentioned to us that Yondu was going to be a fun break out character from Guardians of the Galaxy. So in collaboration with Marvel we agreed to add Yondu, and then also in our support for all things related to The Avengers, especially with “Age of Ultron” coming out right around the corner here, we worked with Marvel to integrate Falcon as a character. So we really beefed up the presence and the amount of playable characters in the Avengers play-set with the inclusion of Falcon and Loki. So yeah, that’s a little bit of the history of how we kind of got to where we’re at.
SHH: You mentioned it being perceived as negative with the first one, so what sort of villain-centric content are you bringing with the figures or is there villain-centric content? Or are they just being added as characters in the playsets?
Vignocchi: The villains can be used inside of the playset that they belong. The villains also play inside the Toy Box and you will see content that’s being delivered by us digitally, for free, where players can download toy boxes and adventures designed for those villains if they’re connected online, but there’s no specific new content being added to the playsets for those characters. But I will say it’s fun to go back through, most people have probably completed their favorite play sets by now, it’s fun to go back through “Spider-Man” as Green Goblin with his inherent abilities and moves that he has, and see how the experience is so much different when you’re not controlling a flyer like Nova or a web swinger like Spidey. The same is true for Loki, his move set is so diverse, it’s a blast to play as him.
SHH: What are some of the things that Ronan, Yondu, and Green Goblin are capable of doing that players perhaps can’t do with the other characters?
Vignocchi: Goblin has his Goblin bombs plus his glider, something that makes him a rather unique character because he has flight abilities plus a mid-range area effect attack with the Goblin Bombs. He’s interesting in that way. What’s interesting about Ronan is he’s a brute like Thor, but also visually I’d say he’s the first scary character we’ve integrated into Disney Infinity. I think Davy Jones, Randal, and Syndrome, they’re fun but at the same time they’re not as vile as Ronan is. From a move set perspective though, Ronan has a very, very strong ground pound attack, he can also shoot projectiles from his hammer and he does a lot of melee damage in close. So like Thor when he’s battling in close, it’s almost lights out with any character he engages with. Yondu is a lot of fun straight up because of his arrows as projectiles. Also his super move is pretty wicked too.
SHH: I think I know the answer to this based on the release calendar for the 1.0 characters, but are we going to be seeing more Marvel characters for 2.0 later on or after Loki and Falcon is that kind of it for this go around?
Vignocchi: The way I answer this question is, that is the end of the Marvel characters that are being integrated into Disney Infinity 2.0; however, Disney Infinity is a growing and evolving platform and we will continue to support Marvel as the franchise continues to grow.
SHH: Is it possible you’ll ever release alternate versions of figures you already have? For instance, you have a power disc for Spider-Man in the black suit, but will we ever see a Spider-man figure in the black suit that also has it in the game?
Vignocchi: Well in fact, we have! I’m so glad you asked the question. The PlayStation Vita version of Disney Infinity 2.0, which features not only the Toy Box Mode but also the playsets, will include exclusively inside of that starter pack a black suit Spider-Man variant! As fans request that kind of stuff we’ll do more of it, because even with the costume swaps that we have people say “It’s cool that you’ve got a costume swap but I’d actually like a full on figure of that.” So we’re definitely going to be dabbling more into that as time goes on.