Disney and Imangi team up for Temple Run: Brave

Independent developer Imangi Studios has teamed up with Disney to turn its hit mobile game Temple Run in Temple Run: Brave, a tie-in for Pixar’s upcoming film Brave.

We got to spend some hands-on time with the Android version of Temple Run: Brave at a private event last week. The gameplay is nearly identical to Temple Run, but replaces the original’s Indiana Jones inspired hero with Brave’s heroine Merida.  As in Temple Run, Merida runs along a pre-determined path while players guide her around corners, jump over gaps, slide under obstacles and collect coins for as long as possible as she tries to outrun a demonic bear named Mordru. The game does introduce two new elements — unlockable in-game tapestries that flesh out the movie’s story and an archery minigame where players tap targets as Merida runs by them. Hitting three targets in a row provides bonus coins.

Unlike the original free-to-play game, Temple Run: Brave will cost $0.99 and will award players with 2,500 in-game coins when they begin playing.

Temple Run: Brave is just one part of Disney’s larger plan to continue expanding its presence in mobile.  While Disney’s game division posted an overall loss for the last fiscal quarter, Disney Mobile SVP and GM Bart Decrem told us the company is focused developing new characters in mobile games, then bringing them into the larger Disney universe. So far Disney’s efforts on mobile have been highly successful — its Where’s My Water has been popular enough for the company to create a series of merchandise lines based on the game’s characters. Decrem also revealed Disney is interested in adapting Temple Run to a number of different IPs, but it was Imangi who was insistent about tying the game to Pixar’s upcoming movie.

It’s not surprising Disney Mobile wants to take advantage of the Temple Run phenomena. Since it was launched in August 2011, the game been downloaded over 80 million times on iOS and Android devices. It is still the No. 44 top grossing app in Apple’s App Store according to AppData. That said, Temple Run floundered when it was originally released for $0.99 and success didn’t come until the game went free-to-play. It remains to be seen if the combined marketing clout of Brave and Temple Run will convince users to pay money for what is effectively an updated version of a free game.

Temple Run: Brave will be released for iOS and Android on June 14 in English, Italian, German, Spanish and Dutch, with Russian, Japanese and Chinese-language versions coming on June 21. Pixar’s Brave debuts in movie theaters on June 22.