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Disney hopes to capture lighting in a bottle twice on the
same game. JHM readers may remember that the site had a short look at the
Disney Japan game Magic Castle Online. The free-to-play online game featured
player controlled characters interacting with Disney icons and other gamers in
a persistent world that was a sort of virtual Magic
Kingdom. Players could enjoy
mini-games and earn virtual currency to buy or win character costumes and other
prizes. The game was popular among the visitors to Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo
and also to those that also enjoyed the Disney films and television shows,
especially the three seasons of the anime Stitch! From Lilo and Stitch.
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
Seeing the potential for a console franchise Namco Bandai
Games developed a new version of Magic Castle, subtitled My Happy Life for the
Nintendo 3DS. The game allows players to interact with the Disney Icons, like
helping Winnie the Pooh plant seeds in Rabbit's Garden, or even go fishing with
Donald Duck. Players can also customize their own characters with costumes and
fashions from the stylish Daisy Duck and even furnish their virtual homes with
collectables from retailers Chip and Dale. Players can interact with the mascot
characters from the parks and feature films and even take pictures with them to
create a virtual scrapbook.
Released in August 2013 My Happy Life has sold 430,000
copies in Japan.
This may not seem like a large number but consider that they are catching up to
the global sales of one of the most popular community-oriented games of all
time. Harvest Moon 3D: A New Beginning by Natsume for the Nintendo 3DS has sold
610,000 copies globally since 2012-2013. Disney and Namco Bandai are hoping
that the US and Europe release of My Happy Life will surpass that number and
take a chunk out of the undisputed community series from Nintendo. Animal
Crossing: New Leaf has sold 6,220,000 copies around the world, making it the
5th highest selling game of all-time on the 3DS.
So why focus on the portable 3DS instead of the Playstation
4, Wii U or Xbox One consoles? According to the retailer numbers from
VGChartz.com Nintendo has sold 42.3 million 3DS systems. This is more than
double of all the new consoles combined. Disney found that it made good
business sense to go with the biggest player in the market. As for the choice
to partner with Namco Bandai instead of having in-house developer Disney
Interactive develop a social-based game there was something else to consider.
The Disney Interactive part of the Disney Company is not as
massive as the largest game publishers. They do not have groups of developers
at their disposal. Their biggest in-house team has been busy developing content
for Disney Infinity. Infinity has sold 2.82 million copies across all of the
consoles since its release last fall. The numbers are impressive for a new
franchise but supporting it has been a huge undertaking. The studio has been
trying to keep up with the pace of Pixar and Disney films and the demand from
gamers. They seem to be falling behind as players were hoping to see a
Wreck-it-Ralph and Frozen "Play Set" while the memories of those movies were
still fresh. Meanwhile Japan
had not gotten a release of Disney Infinity just yet, putting the studio
farther behind with the changing tastes of the global game community. Namco
Bandai is one of the larger game publishers so it made sense to partner with
them. They had the resources to adapt Infinity for the Japanese market as well
as create an entirely new experience on the 3DS.
Online: My Happy Life is scheduled to be released April 11, 2014 in the US.
Hopefully Jim Hill Media can get an advance copy for review.
"The free-to-play online game featured player controlled characters interacting with Disney icons and other gamers in a persistent world that was a sort of virtual Magic Kingdom."
"Virtual Magic Kingdom" -- Yeah, I saw what you did there.