Disney Mobile is planning to launch three new mobile titles and four major updates for some of its more popular games over the next week or so. The new content roll-out is poised to take advantage of the group’s expected traffic increase during the last half of December. At a recent press event, Disney Mobile SVP and General Manager Bart Decrem revealed Disney Mobile’s plans for both the next couple of weeks and some general “to do” items for next year.
When Decrem came to Disney two years ago, the company was just getting serious about entering the mobile apps market. “This was a very large canvas,” he noted at the event, ” but it was also a largely blank canvas.” As a result, Disney set out to become a presence on smartphones and tablets, which are increasingly becoming “the first screen” that children wind up seeing.
As a result, Disney Mobile set out to create new IP and franchises, something Decrem noted back in June when the company announced Temple Run: Brave. The move is paying off for Disney, as the company’s actually had major successes with Where’s My Water? Where’s My Perry? and Temple Run: Brave (earlier this year all three were simultaneously the top paid iOS games, beating out Rovio’s Angry Birds: Space). Where’s My Water? now has somewhere north of 100 million users, Tap Tap Revenge Tour is holding steady with its user numbers (though Decrem notes Disney is trying to figure out how to increase engagement) and the recently-launched Wreck-It Ralph has seen approximately 10 million installs between its premium and free versions.
Why all the new content now?
The Holidays tend to see a major traffic increase for Disney’s mobile and social games. In 2010, the last two months of December saw a 421 percent increase in DAU from normal levels, while 2011 had a 301 percent gain. That was up roughly 40 percent in year-over-year growth. Decrem explained traffic eventually returns to normal by mid-January, but the gains can mainly be attributed to iOS devices being at the top of so many wish lists, coupled with iTunes gift cards being a popular follow-up present. As a result, Disney is rolling out a ton of new content to take advantage of this audience upswell.
The first new title due out is Monster Inc. Run, a 2D action platformer where players can control one of four characters from Pixar’s Monsters Inc. We got to play with an iPad build and it’s surprisingly fast-paced and challenging, but intuitive enough for younger users. The game is developed by Get Set, the same group behind Mega Run, and will launch for iOS on Dec. 13 for $0.99
Two other games are set to launch on Dec. 20: Nemo’s Reef and Where’s My Holiday? Nemo’s Reef is an impressive world building game where users decorate a 3D reef, featuring story moments involving characters from Finding Nemo. Decrem described the game as recreating the zen elements of cultivating a koi pond and said there was very little grinding (though there is some) in the title. Both iOS and Android Users will be able to visit and compare friends’ reefs, too, though details about how that would work weren’t explained during the event.
Where’s My Holiday?, meanwhile, is a free title that will see Swampy and Perry in a game together for the first time. The title is designed to be a promotional title for the Where’s My Water? and Where’s My Perry? series, containing six levels from each of their games.
Rolling out the updates
The various updates we saw are all scheduled to roll out tomorrow, Dec. 13. Where’s My Perry? will receive 40 new levels featuring a new character, Dr. Doofenschmirtz. Users can download Doofenschmirtz’s content for $0.99, while Agent P will receive 20 free new levels and the Matter Ray gadget as a new in-game item.
Avengers Initiative is set to receive the long-awaited arrival of Captain America as a playable character. The update is going to be purchasable for 10,000 ISO-8 in the game, and Decrem says Disney is about to launch a renewed marketing campaign to promote the title.
Temple Run: Brave is getting King Fergus as a playable character, as well as new achievements. The character will be available for 500,000 coins in the game, and there’s now going to be a “second shot” game mechanic.
Finally, Wreck-It Ralph is getting a new game mode based on the Turbo Time arcade title featured in the film. This is a 16-bit arcade racer and will be a free update.
Decrem also revealed Disney is aggressively pursuing audiences in China and India; China alone has over 100 million grey installs of Disney titles. “The stakes are very high for Walt Disney, we need to be there,” he said.
Plans for the future
There were two other interesting points of the press event that were briefly mentioned by Decrem. First, Decrem noted that Disney is working on creating its own social network to cross-promote its games to active users, but wouldn’t go into much detail about the plans at this time. Second, when asked about Disney Mobile’s plans to capitalize on IP acquired in the recent LucasFilm acquisition (something CEO Bob Iger talked about at the time Disney announced the LucasFilm purchase), Decrem said Disney wasn’t willing to talk about it because the deal was still underway. However, he did note “we have some pretty exciting ideas and we’ll be pushing them pretty hard next year.”